Freedoms of Ceremony During the Pandemic
Amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, the whole nation is feeling losses. Many families were separated from their loved ones as they fought a losing battle to this disease. Additionally, you may not have been able to receive comfort during your initial grief from those closest to you, because of the barriers of social distancing. If you couldn’t have a funeral during the initial loss of your loved one; or if you felt that the ceremony you had was incomplete or too small; you can still have the ability to hold a ceremony for your loved one. As New York moves towards reopening, you have the freedom to have a proper ceremony to honor your loved one.
Embracing a Ceremony
Funerals and memorial services allow you and your family to acknowledge the loss and provide you with the support of caring friends and family. Throughout history, virtually every human society had some type of ceremony to mourn those lost. We need each other now more than ever, as we socially distance ourselves.
Immediate, Private Ceremonies
If you were not able to hold a ceremony after the passing of your loved one, you can have a private ceremony with loved ones now. You may want to ask your family’s spiritual leader or an officiant to join your loved ones for the ceremony. Consider using Zoom, Skype, or another video chat service to bring family and friends together. Even a candle-lighting ceremony in your home can be a cathartic experience that helps you begin the healing process.
Planning a Ceremony to be Held Later
If you do not want an immediate private ceremony; you can choose to hold one when the pandemic lessens, or when the restrictions lighten. This can also be important if you have family in states or countries where traveling is limited. A delayed ceremony is still healthier for your family than opting not to have one at all.
Repast after the Pandemic
Most families find comfort in coming together around the dinner table, be it at a restaurant or at home. While many restaurants cannot serve at high capacities, it may be best to hold off on having a large dinner together until this trying time has passed. It is best to keep larger gatherings to a minimum during this time; so even a meal at home with the whole family.
Having More Than One Ceremony
Ceremonies are key to the grieving process. Whether large or small, the sense of love and community one feels during a funeral or memorial is vital to moving through the grieving process. It is perfectly acceptable to have more than one ceremony for your loved one, especially during these difficult times. For now, you may want to hold a smaller, online ceremony now; and an in-person ceremony in the future. If your loved one is cremated, you may decide to have a scattering ceremony.
Planning a Ceremony to Fit Your Family’s Needs
Your family should hold a ceremony that honors your loved one and celebrates their life. Many people have funerary wishes, and families have their own traditions and needs. Whether these be based on spiritual, religious, cultural, or secular traditions; the way that you and your family come together to mourn the deceased can be important.
The Freedom to Feel
Because of the pandemic, and the restrictions that come along with it, many people have to deal with challenging and limiting circumstances as they lose a loved one. Families across the globe lost family members in hospitals while being barred from visitation. It is a rough time for all of those who have lost loved ones during this unprecedented pandemic. You may be experiencing feelings of guilt, anger, regret, helplessness, despair, and more in addition to coping with grief. Naturally, your feelings are complicated, because the circumstances are complicated. Expressing your feelings can be an important step in overcoming them. Talking with family, friends, or even a grief counselor about these feelings can help you work through them.
Gathering Photos and Mementos
During these times of social distancing and isolation, it can be hard to not feel alone; especially after the loss of a loved one. Looking through old photos and mementos of your lost loved one can help you remember good times with them. It is also a good idea to gather photos, videos, memorabilia, and the like; in the event that you hold a service once restrictions are lifted or lessened.
While it can be easy to feel alone during the pandemic, a simple phone call can make a huge difference. Isolation is not helpful for the grieving process. Humans need an emotional community in order to work through feelings of grief properly. Video calls are the safest substitute for face-to-face contact, and being able to see a family member or friend can be healing. Consider gathering stories of your loved one by talking with family and friends over the phone. These can help you feel more connected to the deceased, and can also assist you in preparing a eulogy for a memorial service. But, any way you can connect with family and friends can be a good thing. Even sending out a text or chatting over email can help you and your loved ones feel connected during your time of mourning.
Consider reaching out to loved ones regarding the planning of a funeral or memorial ceremonies for your loved one. Asking for help is never a bad idea, especially when it comes to grief. You may need a hand in planning, and contributing to the ceremony in a meaningful way can help your family members feel better themselves.
Moving Towards Healing in Grief
Death during this pandemic can make you feel like you are in a state of limbo. It is hard to feel like the world is progressing towards normalcy when your own life is thrown even further out of whack. A ceremony for your loved one can help you and your family find a degree of progress towards healing. It is important that you and your family find the time to give attention to the very natural and necessary grief that you feel. Acknowledging grief and your pain during these trying times is one of the first steps towards healing.
The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here.
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.