If you’re unable to hold a funeral for your loved one, or if attendance is limited to immediate family, you do have options:
- IF your State or Country permits, You can have a private viewing for only immediate family and/or close friends in shifts – example 4 people in, 4 people out, different 4 people in etc etc
- Regardless of whether you choose burial or cremation, postpone the service. As a celebrant, Memorial Maker and event planner I have seen plenty of services where the body was either not present at all or a cremated form was present. More info on this here
- Ask the funeral director/home if they can perform the service but webcast/stream/record it to be viewed online at home. More info on this here
- Have 2-3 members of your family (again if permitted) to attend a viewing of your loved one and/or hold a service with the body in your place – again this can be recorded or streamed online.
- Print pictures and put in a memorial book and include notes. As of right now, the postal service is still open and active in most countries so once complete, send to each member of your family and have them do the same (each recipient should wipe down the book). In lieu of a book, you could write a letter about your memories and invite them to reply with memories of their own. This is also something you can do virtually via email and print professionally once all this is over. If you like you can even create a list of questions for each household to answer. See here.
- Create an online memorial or virtual funeral – this can be done easily on Facebook or creating a website. Most people create wedding websites to share memories, photos and invites – the same applies to a funeral. If the person had a Facebook profile – this can be easily altered to become an online memorial for the deceased
- Being born Irish, we often gather for wakes in homes or at pubs, restaurants, and bars after the funeral – this ritual can still happen online – use Zoom or Google Hangout Apps to have an online toast and memory gathering and storytelling virtual wake. If you reach out to your local religious leader or the funeral home might even be able to connect you with someone who might say some words also if this is something you would like. This can also include music – have a niece or nephew or grandchild play and sing during the ‘meeting’. Perhaps you make this a weekly or regular meeting and catch up.
- Ask (via email, phone, video, text etc) for everyone who would have attended the funeral to light a candle or say a prayer/quote/poem or sing/play a song or watch a movie or drink something or similar that represents your loved one at exactly the same time – maybe again associated to them – my birthday is 13th of June so maybe a 6:13am or pm.
As you can imagine, not having the opportunity to hold a traditional funeral or memorial service can be very difficult for anyone. I personally believe we benefit from gathering and remembering our loved ones. I believe in the funeral service as a part of the grief journey. Be kind, support where and when you can but also take this time to take care of yourself.
See here for self-care tips