Under the best of circumstances, the death of a loved one is difficult. But saying goodbye during a pandemic has added layers of challenges.
“This is a hard time for those who are grieving,” explains Carroll Hospice bereavement counselor Jessica Roschen.
Funerals are a time for friends and family to gather and celebrate a person’s life, but that has changed with gatherings now restricted to 10 people or less. Many funeral homes are embracing technology, Roschen says, and streaming funeral services at the church, synagogue or gravesite so that more people are able to view it, come together virtually and support one another.
Roschen says that some funeral homes are suggesting that families hold a small graveside service to help bring immediate closure and then recommend planning for a celebration of life when social distancing restrictions have been lifted.
But families can honor their loved ones in a variety of ways, whether it’s cooking their favorite food, listening to their favorite music, hosting a butterfly release or planting a memory garden in their honor, she says.
“It may help to do your own personal memorial by lighting candles, reading Bible verses or special quotes, sharing memories about your loved one or putting flowers by their grave,” says Roschen.
Some family members she has counseled have found a silver lining in the situation, she says. “A lot of people say ‘I’m so glad my loved one isn’t here during this pandemic. I’m so glad they don’t have to go through this.’ I’m hearing that a lot.”
Roschen asks us to remember why we are social distancing.
“By social distancing, you are giving the gift of life to others,” she says. “And your loved one would want that, too.”