When Tragedy Strikes During a Time of Social Isolation and Distancing, What Options Are Available to Families?
In the weeks and months since the novel coronavirus SARS-Cov-2 and it’s deadly respiratory disease COVID-19 has covered the globe, life as many know it has come to a screeching halt. Businesses have closed their doors, schools have closed, and nearly everyone is staying home to keep one another safe from infection and spread of the disease.
However, for millions of individuals around the world, one unfortunate reality has remained consistent: people continue to pass away – leaving families in a difficult position as to what to do next. Whether it is death from complications due to COVID-19 or a variety of issues that led to death in the days before the pandemic, individuals and families are still needing to mourn, grieve, and think through their next steps in the process of laying their loved ones to rest. The problem? Many funeral homes have closed their doors to business, and those who have not are installing tough social distancing measures to ensure that their staff and others are safe.
How to Give Families Hope and Loved Ones Rest During COVID-19
What should you do if you or your family are faced with the death of a loved one and are finding it difficult to make plans to funerals, visitations, and memorials? Like many businesses around the globe, funeral homes are working with families to implement creative options to keep the process smooth and honorable for all involved.
Before deciding what kind of service to hold, it is important to contact funeral homes in the area to discern whether or not funerals are being held. Many states are requiring funeral homes to not hold funerals for those who are confirmed or suspected of dying from COVID-19 due to the risk of infection. Updated information can be found through organizations such as the National Funeral Directors Association.
Consider a Smaller Service With Immediate Family Only
The first option that many are considering is working with the funeral home and director to put together a service that includes only the smallest number of immediate family members. By keeping the numbers low and spacing individuals out to maintain social distance, safety can be assured while still allowing the family to gather to grieve. Protective gear such as gloves and facemasks are essential to ensure that those who are gathered are kept safe.
Considerations for In-Person Funerals Services
If a family and funeral home staff are comfortable with holding an in-person service for the deceased, the National Funeral Directors Association has put together helpful information to consider before opening the doors to the public:
- Before the initial conversation occurs, guidelines and expectations should be set as to who can be present for any meetings, and ask that anyone who believes they may have been exposed to COVID-19 or feel ill stay home.
- For all in-person meetings, ensure that social distancing is implemented and that sanitizer and needed PPE is available.
- Avoid any physical contact with those grieving.
- Take note of the local, state, and federal guidelines on the display of the body. In many states, those who have died from COVID-19 are not allowed to have open caskets due to the unknowns surrounding infection. Currently, the CDC states that decedents with COVID-19 may be buried or cremated according to the family’s preferences.
- When the family leaves, thoroughly clean the funeral home in accordance with CDC guidance, paying special attention to high-touch surfaces the family may have come in contact with during their visit.
Livestream Service Options
In the same way that many religious organizations and sporting events have taken their functions to the digital realm, some funeral homes are streaming memorial services online via live stream. While not the same as being together in person, a live-streamed service allows for family and friends to gather to celebrate and mourn from the safety of their own homes. As an added benefit, this option allows for individuals who may not have had the ability to travel to the funeral in non-pandemic times to join the services.
Online Memory Books and Memorials
As the internet continues to be a place of profound creativity, some families have taken to reach out to the community of those who have passed and are asking for pictures, videos, and messages to be sent in to create an online memorial. Whether through a website or online platform this crowd-sourced memorial can allow individuals to share memories, connect over the grief for and celebration of their loved one, and grieve together. Even the process of putting together memorial materials for an online memory book can act as a source of coping and healing for many.
Take Your Time and Move Forward In Healing
No matter what option you and your family choose in honoring and celebrating your deceased during this difficult time, it is vital that you take your time to properly research all available options. By reaching out to local funeral homes, religious centers, and other first responders, you will be amazed at the number of resources that are available to you and your family during this difficult time.
At Eco Bear, our family stands with you in solidarity during this difficult time and season. If there is any way that our team can help provide service, hope, or healing, please reach out and let us know.