In un-precedented times families are having to consider new ways in which to honour their loved ones following their death.
As a funeral celebrant I have been observing the effect that the coronavirus crisis is placing on funeral services. The most obvious change has been the drastic reduction in numbers of people attending services as more people are self isolating.
During funeral services families are being asked to respect social distancing and keep 2 metres from each other. Of course that is incredibly hard as people naturally want to support each other and share hugs and handshakes.
Over the coming months attendees may be asked not to touch the coffin in case of cross contamination from one mourner to another, and that is likely to mean that family can no longer carry the coffin.
With such concerns growing, it is possible that Direct Cremations may become advised or even compulsory.
What is direct cremation? This is when a body is taken directly for cremation without a service taking place. Some families are already choosing this option as their loved one has specifically requested a ‘no fuss’ farewell – but I suspect that this will become a necessity for many in the coming months.
But what does that mean for families? “What happens when we can’t have a funeral?”
It goes without saying that losing a loved one is heart-wrenching and we seek solace in the traditions we have been raised with. A funeral is an expected ritual which helps us to move on – but the ever changing events we find ourselves facing mean we are having to consider alternative ways in which to offer a meaningful goodbye.
So how can a celebrant help?
I can still offer you a funeral service to provide the ritual that helps us through our experience of loss. It is an opportunity to say farewell to a loved one, but it is only the beginning of our grief journey- not the end.
A ceremony creates a focus for our emotions and gives an opportunity for friends and family to share stories and memories of the deceased. More importantly it offers a dedicated moment in our lives to stop and honour all the ways that a person has touched our lives.
I am offering memorials to families that can be recorded or streamed online. This allows everyone with internet access to join the service from anywhere across the world, ensuring they are able to honour their loved one and express their loss.
Can a ceremony happen if direct cremations become compulsory? Yes of course. With the exception of not being physically present with a coffin in a chapel a virtual ceremony can be exactly the same as a standard service.
Initially I interview families (by phone or via an online streaming service) to find out all the personal details that made your loved one so unique, helping us to celebrate their life and achievements together. If they wish to, family and friends will be invited to prepare a Eulogy that recognises the ways in which they influenced your world – a true mark of respect.
Music and readings can play an intimate part in the ceremony and beautifully reflect your feelings of sadness.
A funeral service can be anything you want it to be and encompass anything you feel is relevant. It should be meaningful, memorable and reflective of the person as they lived.
It is a true privilege and passion to assist families in creating a meaningful farewell – and I feel it is even more important to create ‘a time to mourn’ in these trying times.
If you would like to simply discuss options, ask questions or express your sadness at where we find ourselves today please pick up the phone or send me an email.