Honoring the Deceased During the Pandemic

Russ Krengel Caregivers

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our society in many different ways. Work, life, socialization, child-rearing, holidays, and even death have been affected. As a society, we have had to adapt and re-evaluate how we proceed with our normal rituals. The issue of honoring the deceased is the one event that has been affected the most. 

Traditional rituals provide final moments of closure with friends and relatives to help with the grief process. The nearness and shared experience allow loved ones to feel a comforting touch or hear a kind word of shared sympathy. Grieving families are being asked to forgo the personal intimacy that accompanies the shared experience. 

Our normal death rituals have been severely altered. Many funeral homes no longer allow group services. They have adopted non-traditional solutions to comply with social distancing guidelines. They might provide limited services and viewing if they haven’t moved entirely virtual yet. Families are turning to creative ways to create a shared memorial experience. 

Here are a few ideas that you should consider when trying to create a shared experience to honor a loved one. 

Have a Virtual Memorial Service

Virtual memorial services are the most popular option. A mortuary or funeral service can help facilitate a virtual service. These can be done over normal online services (Zoom, Skype, etc.). However, there are also industry-specific providers, such as OneRoom. These allow the ability to interact with others in real-time, pre-record messages, and share the recording after the event. Work with your funeral director to come up with the best option for you. 

Create a Drive-by Vigil

Create a memorial display outside the home to allow loved ones to drive-by and recognize the deceased. Friends and family can bring a copy of their favorite photo or a last-letter to the dearly departed. You may need to post a note that you are not accepting visitors due to social distancing guidelines though. Also, be careful when collecting items left by visitors. Please use proper handling and disinfecting procedures for items coming into your home.  

Create an Online Slideshow or Scrapbook

Use photos given by friends and family (see above) to create an online memorial for the deceased. Many services (Google Photos, DropboxOneDrive, etc.) allow groups to upload and share high-quality videos and images. Also, they will allow the images to be stored in a slideshow-type format. You can take these images to an online printing service to create photo booklets as memorial gifts for friends and family. 

Reach Out to Online Support Groups

Due to social distancing restrictions, we are no longer able to go through our normal communal grieving processes. There are many online options to turn to for support. Kindful Hospice has partnered with Christi Center to offer grief counseling free of charge. Christi Center provides peer support programs to children, adults, and family members. All groups meet online via Zoom and have a meeting facilitator. Participants can register on an as-needed basis. Some group members are talkative while others are there to listen. The groups are a great place to share experiences and learn what helps from a variety of perspectives.