By Gwenn Canlas | Published: November 22, 2020
There is a new kind of grief: the grief of not being able to celebrate, honor, and commemorate loved ones.
Grief is a normal response to losing someone important to you. When a loved one dies, it is a must for friends and family to be able to share stories and memories of the person and how they influenced their lives.
The fear and anxiety over the COVID-19 pandemic could be overwhelming for grieving friends and family.
This Is A Reality
COVID-19 has affected the ability of friends and family to come together in person and grieve in typical ways.
Regardless of whether the person’s death was due to the coronavirus disease or some other cause, this is a reality.
It may be difficult for people to make decisions about how to safely grieve and honor their departed loved ones during the pandemic.
Here are some suggestions and strategies to protect yourself and others when you are grieving the loss of a loved one, supporting each other, making funeral arrangements, and participating in funeral services and visitations.
- Consider having virtual or phone meetings instead of in-person meetings with funeral home staff, cemetery staff, clergy or officiants, and others when planning funeral arrangements,
- Limit the attendees to a small number of immediate family and close friends. To date, there is no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral service or visitation with the body of a deceased person who had confirmed or suspected COVID-19 after the body has been prepared for viewing. However, if you attend a funeral where multiple people are gathering, you may be at risk of contracting the virus. The more people interact, the closer the distance of the interaction is (less than 6 feet), and the longer the duration of the interaction lasts, the higher the risk of spreading COVID-19.
- Discuss options for changing or removing funeral practices that involve close contact or sharing things among attendees and members of different households, such as: Sharing car rides between the funeral home and cemetery with people from different households and providing food and beverages for attendees after the service.
- If food must be offered at the reception, have individual pre-packaged boxes or bags instead of a potluck, buffet, or family-style meal. Avoid sharing of foods and utensils. Observe physical distancing, especially while eating.
- Consider holding services and gatherings in a large, well-ventilated area or outdoors, as circumstances and traditions allow.
- No physical contact like shaking hands, hugging or kissing. Attendees should nod, bow, or wave instead.
- Avoid activities that produce respiratory droplets, which may contain the virus, (e.g., singing or praying aloud), especially when participants are indoors and in close proximity to each other. Masks and face shields should always be kept on, especially if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
- Consider limiting the number of people from different areas of the country or any areas with a significantly high COVID-19 infection rate.
- Pay attention to any physical guides, such as tape markings on floors or signs on walls, directing attendees to remain at least 6 feet apart from each other in lines or when seated. Allow other people 6 feet of space when you pass by them in both indoor and outdoor settings.
- Consider using technology to connect virtually with family and friends during the grieving process. Hold an interactive and virtual funeral, memorial service, or wake that allows families and friends to attend and participate from the safety of their own homes. Friends and family can share stories, songs, and photos, just like they would at an in-person wake when they can’t all come together in person to celebrate the life of their loved one and support each other in grief via virtual wake or memorial service. Many funeral homes offer the service.
Even In The New Normal
The world is facing something we have never seen before.
There will be large numbers of grief-stricken people on a different level.
Despite the pandemic, being able to grieve for loved ones is incredibly important, and expressing heartfelt sympathies should still be done, even in the new normal.
In loving memory of Sienna Egea 02.14.1947 – 11.16.2020