As everyone is currently aware, the Covid-19 Pandemic we are all facing has changed every aspect of our normal, everyday lives. Those that are sick and in the hospital, in a hospice facility, or in a nursing home are most likely not allowed visitors and if they are lucky, it is most likely only one. This is extremely difficult for families, especially for those who know their loved one is in their final stages. What many people may not have considered as also being affected by this pandemic, would be the way people are able to mourn the loss of their loved one once they have passed, whether from COVID-19 or not.
It is a devastating thought, but many people during this crisis are dying alone. There are no loved ones at their side as they go through their final days. Due to the social distancing measures, Pastors and Religious Leaders are not able to be with the family as the grieve, either. It has changed the way comfort and support look like.
Funeral homes are facing a lot of challenges as they try to navigate ways to allow families to grieve while also following social distancing measures as well as rules being implemented by cemeteries. The guidelines are ever changing by the CDC and public health authorities. Many funeral homes are holding a service for immediate family only and live streaming the service for friends and family to watch. It has become almost impossible to have a visitation and allow others to come together to grieve due to the ban of gatherings with more than 10 people. Various cemeteries will only allow 10 people at the graveside including the funeral home staff. Safety measures such as these can make funerals look a lot different than what we are accustomed to.
It is surreal to think about having a funeral service with no one there, but that is what many funerals currently look like. While families are grieving they are also having to cope with the fact that they cannot hold a traditional service for their loved one. In many instances, the family may choose to have a service at a later date once the pandemic is over or choose to have no service at all – Churches are closed, there are no processions to the cemetery, no tent or chairs placed at the cemetery, all of this leaving the family feel as though their loved one is simply forgotten.
While funerals may make the death seem real, many people are looking at technology to process their grief. Funeral services being live streamed and pastors and grief counselors are facetiming with family to help process their grief. Condolences can be left on funeral home websites for families and flowers and cards can still be sent to the family, but nothing compares to the comfort and support one may feel from a simple hug and face to face talk with a friend or loved one during these difficult times.
The mourning process is still just as important as before, but due to the current circumstances, it will most likely just look a little different than what we are all familiar with. Now more than ever it is important to be there for your friends and family and offer those extra words of support and comfort.
– Sarah Driskell