As the world continues to adapt to the realities of the coronavirus pandemic, families are also dealing with how this affects their approach to the death of a loved one and the grief that accompanies loss. Funeral professionals and families have adjusted swiftly to find creative funeral ideas even when faced with the need for limited gatherings and practicing social distancing.
Through the challenges, there are many ways to remember and honor a loved one while adhering to limitations and physical distancing. Here are a few of those funeral and memorial ideas that families can plan or participate in now.
1. Shift to online services.
The most prevalent shift in funeral service has been a temporary transition from large in-person gatherings to online services in an effort to keep community members and funeral home staff safe. During the pandemic, people have become more comfortable with using technology to communicate with one another. Many are finding ways to make online funeral services as personalized as possible while adhering to physical distancing guidelines. For example, some are attaching signs or balloons to chairs in the venue to represent family members and friends who are participating in services online. Audio and video recordings and photos also play an increasingly prominent role in remembering loved ones through online services.
Funeral professionals are also doing remarkable work in their efforts to keep communities safe as they help families prepare for funerals. This includes expanding their options for interacting with their staff members remotely when planning services and implementing enhanced cleaning and safety measures for those who do enter their funeral homes. For more information and guidelines related to funerals during the pandemic, refer to the CDC website.
2. Set up other virtual events.
Online events honoring a loved one can extend beyond the services themselves. There are many other ways to share stories and comfort one another when large in-person gatherings are not an option. Examples of this include hosting online calling hours or receptions to provide additional times for family members and friends to connect.
Despite having a different format, online events can still be customized to reflect the life of the person they’re meant to honor. For example, families might consider sending out a cherished recipe that the loved one enjoyed making and suggest that participants prepare that food to enjoy during an online reception. This type of event could even become a recurring event to help family members stay connected when gatherings are limited.
3. Make plans for future services.
In addition to online funerals and events, many families are making plans for in-person memorial services at a later time. These events are an opportunity to complement and build upon the online services and smaller gatherings.
Planning ahead can offer additional opportunities and time to personalize the services and incorporate even more stories from the loved one’s life. A trusted funeral service provider can help explain options for planning funeral services for the future, when it is possible for more people to get together.
4. Establish personal connections.
When a loved one dies, there is often a desire to help one another and find as many outlets to honor that person as possible. During this time, there are steps families can take to recognize the loved one in other ways. For example, family members might:
- Plant a memorial tree or garden near their home.
- Make a donation in the loved one’s name.
- Learn a hobby or skill the loved one enjoyed.
- Write down (or record themselves sharing) favorite stories about the loved one.
These are just a few of the possibilities to help families continue to recognize the loved one’s role in their lives. Families can share this inspiration with one another so they can connect through their personal experiences with these activities.
5. Create shared experiences.
Even though in-person gatherings are limited, there are ways to participate in other shared experiences. In addition to sharing experiences with some of the individual activities above, it’s also possible to create collaborative tributes to a loved one. Funeral homes’ online guestbooks, social media platforms, video conferencing and even simple text message groups can make sharing memories easier.
Families wishing to capture memories in a different way might consider a collaborative project to collect stories, photos and scanned letters and cards in a book to reflect their loved one’s life. They could use an online publishing service to create the book and order copies for anyone who wishes to have one.
New and creative ideas for funeral services will continue to evolve, and a local funeral service professional is an excellent resource for exploring these possibilities. What other ways have you seen families honor loved ones during this time? Share your thoughts in the comments below.