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Memorializing Our Loved Ones: A Global Pandemic

It is no secret that the coronavirus has changed life as we know it. From world-wide shutdowns, mask-mandates and closing of public spaces, our world looks a lot different one year later.

In March 2020, this was especially noticeable in the role of a funeral director. With new guidelines being passed down every day, the first few weeks of the pandemic were a whirlwind. The restrictions on public gatherings, including funerals, memorial services and graveside services brought everything to a screeching halt. Only ten immediate family members were allowed inside a funeral home for their loved one services. Travel bans and quarantines kept families apart. It felt as though the world was asking us to do the impossible: grieve alone.

And yet, through all this we persevered. We found ways to connect people. We relied on technology to bring us together. We spent hours building and training and learning what worked best for our families, and we continue to do so. During a time when it might seem easier to say “we’ll plan a memorial service later” or “let us wait until we can all gather” we understand the importance of ceremony now. We know the emotional toll delaying grief can have on a family, and the need to lay their loved one to rest in a reasonable time.

When you lose someone close to you, grief is inevitable. As funeral directors, it is our role to help survivors share and process their grief. In January, we shared a blog called “Why Do We Have Funerals?”, which touched on the reasons behind a wake and a funeral. Now more than ever, we believe in the importance of funerals. We believe that gathering safely and within current guidelines is imperative for family and friends. With the staggering number of deaths our country has seen in the last 12 months, if we can help even one family honor and celebrate their loved one, we have done our jobs.

The pandemic has changed the way we can memorialize our loved ones and show our support, but it has not stopped us. We continue to safely and creatively serve our families so that they leave our home feeling at peace.

As author David Kessler writes:

“Each person’s grief is as unique as their fingerprint. But what everyone has in common is that no matter how they grieve they share a need for their grief to be witnessed. That doesn’t mean needing someone to try and lessen it or reframe it for them. The need is for someone to be fully present to the magnitude of their loss without trying to point out the silver lining.”

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