Virtual Mourners of the Corona Virus Outbreak
As a Professional Celebrant and someone who knows how deep the death of a loved one can cut I feel deeply concerned that so many members of extended family and also family friends are faced with the despair at the loss of the opportunity to attend the final farewell of someone close who has died.
With so many day to day changes that had to happen so quickly there has been a sort of watered down feeling to the guidance around funeral services. As a lawyer I know all to well how guidance, legislation and working practice recommendations can be interpreted so differently. Both Funeral Directors and Celebrants alike are having to think on their feet, be flexible and remain upstanding and professional as they work between the different directions of the church, crematoria and chapels for each have their own interpretation of government guidance. This can be unnerving at a time when we most need to provide a safe level of calm to help families cope at this incredibly challenging time. Suddenly everyone has been forced into an unnatural situation of 'Stay Home' but nothing is as unnatural as not being able to say goodbye to your most loved member of the family. Families are always vulnerable but the situation we now have to navigate puts so many people into a far higher state of vulnerability.
Remaining Reliable and Supportive is Key
Funeral Directors across the land pride themselves on the care they extend to families and the level of professional insight that helps to support every family they care for. The changes and adaptations to the usual pattern of working and the familiarity of the various churches, crematoria and chapels may well give any Funeral operative a feeling of doubt. With communication, continued commitment and hard-work between everyone working together a reliability can be achieved. Supporting a family at this time is probably one of the most challenging things many will do, some families will have been denied any physical contact with their relative, some will have discussed funeral wishes in the past few months only to find that those wishes cannot be fulfilled - at least not at this time. Families have always taken much care to pay tribute and engage in a fitting 'send-off' that befits and honors the deceased and in turn comforts both family and friends so, with the fitting farewell being denied the reliability and support of the Funeral Director, the Funeral Team and the Celebrant has an even greater significance.
What Alternatives Can We Offer Families?
In the here and now families are dealing with significant distress that is magnified ten-fold be having no control whatsoever over the farewell service. The idea of delaying the service for the greater network of family and friends drives the pain of loss deeper in the initial days. The alternative planning of a future service as either a Life Celebration hosted to those left out of the physical funeral service or, as a later memorial can be managed in a way that may help comfort and heal the family. There will be a natural time-lapse to gather thoughts and stories, to appreciate achievements and to locate long lost pictures or video footage for all to see such that the lost mourners of today can benefit from a wider and more vibrant tribute
Direct Unattended Cremations have, in recent times, increased which goes some way to helping society understand that there are alternatives and that families and friends be able to accept and find their own way to reconcile the final farewell.
Distance is Merely Virtual - Our Hearts Remain Together
During social distancing and general restriction of movement families have some element of control using the power of modern technology to host a tribute and farewell using Zoom, Go To or similar to bring together a virtual congregation, thereby creating an all-inclusive service. Together, collectively, albeit virtually; family and friends are able to express their grief and contribute to the farewell.In time families and friends will come together to spend time and to host the 'After Tears' at any location of choice with an array of memorial settings, tables, memory trees, picture tributes in fact, with the additional time to plan its likely that families will be incredibly creative and our lost mourners to Covid-19 could see the beginning of alternative rituals. As families say heir physical farewell suitably distanced or virtually distanced, they can in fact do so knowing that they will be able to embrace a future memorial of real significance with extended family and friends.