There has been so much change since the beginning of March and this has had a serious impact on funerals and how we celebrate the life of someone who has died. As of 29th March, the advice is that only immediate family may attend funerals with anyone at risk unable to attend (up to date advice on funerals can be found here). This means that this important ritual where we all gather to celebrate a life has been taken away. Our usual support networks, so essential in times of grief, have also become more difficult to access as we are unable to see friends and family, attend our usual community groups or access face to face bereavement support.
In these difficult times, there are still ways we can celebrate life and come together to remember loved ones. Here are a couple of ideas we’ve found which could help to make this easier.
Many funeral directors are making it possible to use technology so that family and friends unable to physically attend a funeral can attend from afar. This way you are able to come together, albeit virtually, to remember that person and no one misses out on the ceremony. If you are unable to stream the service you could ask someone to film instead and send this out to family and friends unable to attend.
Ask everyone to provide photos and memories for the funeral, you could put these in the order of service or have a slide show during the service.
Ask people who can’t attend to record a short message which can be played at the funeral and shared with everyone afterwards.
If you can’t attend the funeral set aside the time and have your own memorial, perhaps find some photos or write down some memories. Ask someone to call you after the service and share what happened so you feel involved.
Set up an online tribute
As gatherings are not allowed it is impossible to have a wake but it doesn’t mean you can’t all share memories. Online tributes are available on a variety of platforms, a couple are listed below. Here family and friends can post photos and memories, light virtual candles and send messages of support to the family. There is also the opportunity to set up donations to charities in memory.
Get busy arranging a celebration of life
Just because you can’t have the funeral you wanted to have now, doesn’t mean you can’t have a larger gathering later in the year. Use the time we have at home to start to plan a really personal and special celebration of life. Think of your loved ones interests and how you could personalise the celebration to them. Get family and friends involved and use it to bring you together in this time of separation.
Look after yourself
We’re facing a situation which we’ve never experienced before and this could mean grief is very different. Being isolated could make feelings of loneliness and grief more intense and staying in the house could bring up painful reminders.
You can find advice and support here:
Dying matters has a range of information on talking about death and bereavement
Guardian Angel helps you create support hubs to remember a loved one and help with funeral arrangements
Cruse Bereavement Care has advice on grieving during coronavirus
Grief Chat enables you to access online support from a bereavement counsellor
Cruse telephone helpline offers a listening ear and emotional support