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Managing Grief When a Funeral Isn’t Possible

Managing Grief When a Funeral Isn’t Possible

For many, funerals are an integral part of the grieving process. They provide the opportunity to gather with others, seek comfort and collectively remember and mourn the life of a loved one lost. Unfortunately, sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control that can prevent this common ritual from occurring. In recent months, for example, social distancing rules due to the coronavirus pandemic have made it nearly impossible to hold funerals or other memorial services. The absence of these gatherings can make it difficult to grieve normally. If you’re struggling with this, here are a few alternatives that may help.

Use technology.

Many families who lost a loved one during the COVID-19 lockdown have sought comfort in gathering virtually via free video conferencing platforms, like Skype and Zoom. Some funeral homes have also taken advantage of modern technology by livestreaming their services. Not only does this ease the feeling of loneliness and isolation for mourners, but it also allows friends and family from around the globe the opportunity to participate when they might otherwise not have been able to.

Mourn from a distance.

In addition to virtual services, other mourners have gotten creative during the health crisis and arranged to have funeral attendees participate from their vehicles. There are a number of ways this can be done. For instance, some funerals have consisted of friends and family members lining the street from the church to the cemetery in honor of the deceased. Others have hosted “drive by” processions through which attendees took turns stopping in front of the home(s) of the bereaved, offering condolences from afar.

Postpone the event.

In a time of disruption and uncertainty, making a solid plan for the future can be a positive, comforting and healing experience. The good news is, if the deceased was cremated, there’s no real rush to schedule a service. Even if the person who passed opted for a traditional burial, it’s ok to hold a memorial service at a later date. Instead of looking at it as a cancellation, try to view it as merely a postponement and use the additional time you have to plan something extra special.

Be creative.

There are lots of ways to pay tribute to a loved one who has passed on that don’t require traditional in-person gatherings. If you are creative, you could draw, paint or make a sculpture in honor of the deceased. Or, you could put pen to paper and journal about how you’re feeling. Other ideas include planting flowers or a tree, creating a scrapbook of pictures or commissioning a piece of glass with cremation ash, cremation jewelry, or even a memorial diamond.  Not only can these things be incredibly cathartic, but you’ll end up with a more permanent tribute that you can partake in whenever you’d like.

Get help.

If you’re really struggling with not being able to hold an in-person funeral or memorial service, reach out for support from someone you can trust. Whether it’s touching base with a friend or family member, calling a grief support hotline or scheduling an appointment with a professional, stay connected and seek help whenever needed. Try to remember that even though we may be separated, you are not alone in your time of grief.

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