Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions put in place, funeral services have had to adapt. With restrictions on traditional gatherings, after service wakes, and even the singing of hymns, it has been difficult for many families to give their loved ones the send-off they would have liked. However, with an array of technology available and ideas in abundance, we have 5 ways to help you make a funeral service special while abiding by the restrictions that are currently in place.
How Has COVID-19 Impacted Funerals?
During the pandemic, the government has had to impose changes to our daily lives to help restrict the spread of Coronavirus. Unfortunately, those restrictions extended to funerals and how we say our final goodbyes to loved ones who have died, whether directly related to COVID-19 or not. The restrictions include:
- Limiting the number of attendees – maximum of 30 guests (correct as of April 2021)
- Staying 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household/support bubble
- Wearing a face covering inside the funeral venue
- No singing is permitted
- Wakes and other commemorative events limited to a maximum of 15 people (correct as of April 2021)
These restrictions have significantly impacted the traditional funeral service, and officiants such as celebrants have adapted accordingly. Mourners have had to prioritise relatives and friends to stay within the limit of guests. Wakes, where friends and family gather to eat, drink and celebrate the life of their loved one, have primarily been abandoned; and, expressing grief and comfort in terms of close contact such as holding hands or hugs is limited to people you live with only.
5 Ideas To Make a Funeral Special Despite COVID-19
At this time, the future is uncertain. There is no clarity on how long the restrictions will remain in place or whether the type of funeral services held before the pandemic will ever resume. However, loved ones have died during this time, and those that may leave us over the coming months deserve their funeral service to be unique and a fitting tribute to their lives. Below are some ideas for helping to make the funeral service and the whole experience memorable despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Stream the funeral service online
- An online wake
- Photo/video memorial
- Shared experiences
- Create a memorial, e.g. plant a tree
Streaming Funeral Services Online
Fortunately, in 2021, we have access to technology that allows us to share special moments with our loved one’s even when we cannot be together. Zoom family catch-up, quizzes and even parties have become the norm, and funeral services are no exception. Whether you have relatives that cannot attend due to needing to isolate, because of travel restrictions, or simply because they don’t make the list of 30, everyone can attend ‘virtually’ when you choose to stream the service online.
Many funeral directors, officiants, and venues accommodate the use of recording equipment to both live stream and record the funeral service, allowing it to be watched again later. Ask your funeral director or celebrant for more information about the streaming service they are offering. Please be aware that there is likely to be a small additional charge for this service.
Funerals in the United Kingdom can traditionally be followed by a wake, where family and friends gather to discuss happy memories. Wakes are sometimes held in a private home, other times a venue such as a pub or a village hall; often food and drink are provided or available to buy as part of the celebration. Wakes are currently limited, but that doesn’t mean that you need to forgo the tradition altogether.
Why not arrange a virtual wake? Set up a family Zoom or other streaming service session where you can all talk and share memories; this could be in small groups or with the whole congregation and can be a great alternative to the traditional wake setting.
Photo or Video Memorial
Sharing photographs and home video clips of the person who has died is becoming a popular addition to many funeral services. Collating the pictures into a fitting tribute is part of the service offered by Steve. A memorable photographic eulogy is used as part of the service and retained as a keepsake afterwards to be re-watched and shared when reminiscing about the happy moments spent together. There are also online photo album services available to collate such memorials and communicate with other family members or friends.
Remember your loved one and their passions in life by sharing an experience with other mourners ‘virtually’ or even just at an agreed time where you will all participate in the same activity. Some ideas may include:
- Enjoying their favourite treat, e.g. an afternoon tea from their favourite restaurant
- Watching their favourite football team play a match on TV
- Toasting them with their favourite tipple at a set time
- Learning a new skill to reflect their passions
- Listening to their favourite song, album or playlist
Knowing you are all doing the activity simultaneously, either separately or together virtually, in honour of your loved one can go a long way to processing their death and helping you to grieve while also celebrating their life.
Create a Memorial
Whether you have attended the funeral service or not, you can pay tribute to your loved one by creating a memorial; this can be linked directly to your loved one’s passions or just something that would make you happy. Maybe enjoying gardening could create a small memorial in your garden by planting their favourite flowers.
Many people choose to plant a tree or place a bench in memory of a loved one; these are both excellent ideas and places you can visit in the future, perhaps on important dates to mark their memory. You could also consider taking some of the flowers from the funeral, pressing them and making a picture in your home; you could even make several and give them to other mourners.
Making a Funeral Service Special During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Creating a fitting tribute to the life of your loved one when they have died may seem like an impossible task with COVID restrictions in place. However, there is hope and many ideas that can make the service memorable and inclusive for all family and friends. There are many ways to celebrate a lost life and remember the joyful times without being in the same room.
As a funeral celebrant with many years of experience, Steve can help you plan the perfect funeral service for your loved one. Contact Steve to discuss how he can officiate at the funeral of your family member or friend and the ways he can help provide an all-inclusive service with video streaming and his very popular photographic eulogies.