How to Plan a Funeral During Coronavirus Social Distancing
Planning a funeral may require more creativity during COVID-19 social distancing
Many families face the daunting task of planning a funeral for a loved one who has passed away amid the COVID-19 crisis, but funerals during coronavirus look different than they did before social distancing became our new normal. To help grieving families pay tribute to their loved ones under even more difficult circumstances, funeral homes are stepping up with new ideas for holding funerals. One of these ideas may help you decide how to plan a funeral during this unique time.
Consider coronavirus regulations
One of the most important things to remember when planning funerals during coronavirus social distancing is to avoid large gatherings and personal contact. Of course, this runs contrary to typical memorial services. Restrictions vary state-to-state, but in general, funeral directors are having to limit the number of mourners who can attend a funeral at one time. The limitations may mean a service is private, with just five to 10 immediate family members present, excluding community members, friends, and colleagues who wish to pay their respects to the departed.
Talk with your funeral director
To help more mourners take part in the service, funeral homes are getting creative. Your first step while planning a funeral should be to discuss the options available with your funeral director and determine what would work best for your family. While funerals require new considerations since the virus, it’s important to keep in mind that the outcome is the same: Funeral directors and families are doing their best to celebrate a loved one’s life with the dignity and respect the person deserves.
Decide between cremation and burial
It’s important to note that the decision to have a cremation versus burial was common prior to the coronavirus. In fact, many people preplan to be cremated because the practice is usually less expensive, more environmentally friendly, and affords the opportunity for creativity. During the coronavirus, though, the numbers of cremations have risen, as seen in the changes in casket trends right now. More families are choosing to postpone their celebrations of life until after the pandemic settles down, and cremations make this easier. It is important to remember your loved one’s wishes and not make any decisions that they would not have wanted.
Choose your service style
While some people are choosing to wait until the coronavirus pandemic has slowed down to hold their celebrations of life, other people are embracing alternative ceremonies, including live-streamed, drive-by, and graveside services. You should discuss these types of services with your funeral director to understand the options they provide.
At this funeral service, the immediate family members usually gather at the location of the funeral while following social distancing guidelines, and friends and members of the community virtually attend the ceremony from their computer or phone. Some families use Facebook live, while others utilize YouTube or Google services. The funeral home you use may have a preferred platform.
In this type of service, the casket or urn is placed in front of the funeral home, and the family stands next to it. At a designated time, community members drive by with signs and share messages of support from a safe distance. In some communities, attendees can exit their vehicles in small groups to pay their respects to the family, but they must follow the guidelines for social distancing.
Some individuals have combined the funeral service with the graveside ceremony so the whole event can be conducted outdoors. At the graveside, families are often clustered together but socially distance from other attendees. Before you choose this type of service, you’ll want to discuss your state’s current restrictions with your funeral director. Some states are restricting the use of tents, chairs, and blankets at the site.
Use online resources
As with funeral services, many people have adjusted how they send and receive condolences. New online resources provide a safer way for people to show the family that they care during the coronavirus pandemic.
While some funeral homes allow attendees to use their own pens to write in guestbooks, others are moving to an online-only version instead. This platform prevents potential spread of the virus, and they are necessary for ceremonies that do not allow many guests to be present in-person. Online guestbooks also have the added perk of being accessible to multiple people after the ceremony is over, while a printed version can only be kept by a single person.
Virtual condolence cards
Virtual cards aren’t necessarily a new concept, but with the virus impacting so many important moments, the number of virtual condolence cards has increased. Companies like Hallmark have expanded their sales into electronic cards that are especially helpful for funerals during the coronavirus.
Funeral homes have been using websites to display information about their services for quite some time now. The websites also tend to include a tribute page, where people can write their condolence messages to the family.
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