Grief without Hugs: How to Plan a Funeral amid a Pandemic

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As the world tries to make sense of the new normal, many families deal with the death of a loved one. The pandemic has changed the way we bid goodbye to our loved ones. Even if the cause of death isn’t COVID-19 relative, large gatherings in a funeral aren’t recommended or even prohibited in some places.

Dealing with grief without hugs is difficult. But this doesn’t mean you can’t honor a loved one. Here are some memorialization ideas you can try while keeping family and friends safe amid a pandemic:

Hold a virtual funeral service

Funeral directors are doing remarkable work and adjusting to the distancing limitations set by the states. You can hire one to help you plan a service with only the immediate family in attendance while the rest of your family and friends attend the event online. To make the service personalized, you can attach ribbons or balloons to chairs in the venue to represent those who can only participate via Facebook Live or Zoom.

Set up other online events

You can set up other online events days after the service to continue honoring your departed loved one. This is especially beneficial to honor your loved one’s culture. For instance, if your departed relative is Jewish, relatives and friends can’t have a sitting shiva together for seven days and nights due to social distancing rules. But you can hold the tradition online, with a bit of adjustment on every attendee’s part.

Another idea is to host a Zoom call where everyone can share their cherished memories with your loved one. Before the call, you can send food or simply send your deceased relative’s favorite recipe to the participants, so they can prepare the food at home and enjoy it while attending the online event.

This virtual get-together can even be a recurring event to help family members and friends stay connected in these trying times. Knowing you have loved ones to turn to can ease your grief, too.

Recognized the loved one in other ways

woman in formal attire beside a coffin

When a loved one dies, there’s usually a desire to find as many outlets to honor that individual as possible. With that in mind, you can encourage your family members and friends to recognize the deceased in multiple ways. Here are some ideas you can share with them:

  • Design a headstone that uniquely fits the personality and story of the deceased.
  • Plant a garden near the departed loved one’s home.
  • Make a donation in the deceased’s name.
  • Learn a hobby or skill the loved one enjoyed doing before to pay tribute.
  • Write down favorite stories about the loved one and turn these into a book to share with others.

Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live—including how we say goodbye to our loved ones who died. We now honor our loved ones through virtual events and other creative activities. Like how we made changes in other aspects of our lives, we have to make do. All these will do for now. Hopefully, we can hug each other again and honor the life of our departed loved one.

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