COVID-19: Your Guidelines and Options
Guidelines & Options:
- Funeral Options During the Pandemic
- Supporting Friends & Family When a Funeral Isn’t Possible
- Attending a Funeral
- If You Aren’t Able to Have a Funeral for a Loved One
When a Loved One Dies During the Coronavirus Pandemic
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has had an unprecedented impact on how we live and work, limiting our ability to interact with others and freely move about in the world. Tragically, it’s also affecting our ability to pay tribute to loved ones who have died.
Unfortunately, if a loved one dies during the pandemic, regardless of the circumstances of their death, it is unlikely that a traditional funeral or memorial service will be possible, at least in the immediate future. There are still things you can do, however, to honor your loved one, or to support someone who has experienced the death of a family member or friend.
Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons has local, state and federal guidelines that need to be followed regarding funerals that are held during this time, with some states banning funerals entirely. There are also guidelines that need to be followed when the individual has died, or may have died, of COVID-19. These guidelines are in place to ensure the health and well being of you and your family, funeral home staff and attendees of any funeral or gathering. Things change on a daily basis, so speak with one of us for the most up-to-date information.
Funeral Options During the Pandemic
Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons, Inc. is committed to helping families honor their loved ones in meaningful ways, while ensuring the safety of family and friends. If you’re unable to hold a funeral for your loved one, or if attendance is limited to immediate family, you do have options that can be explored with your funeral director.
- Have a private viewing for only immediate family and/or close friends.
- Delay the funeral and hold it at a later date. Speak with your funeral director about your options regarding casket burial or cremation if you choose this option.
- Have a private viewing for only immediate family and/or close friends and have a memorial service at a later date.
- Ask your funeral director if they have the ability to webcast the funeral so others can view from home.
If you are able to have a funeral, even if it’s on a smaller scale, note that your funeral director will need to follow very specific guidance regarding the number of attendees and social distancing as required by the local, state and/or federal government. While it may be difficult to accept these limitations, know that your funeral director is working hard to ensure your safety, the safety of any guests and the safety of the funeral home staff while still providing family and friends with the opportunity to say goodbye. These guidelines may include:
Social distancing guidelines apply, regardless of the setting or circumstances. As such, seating for a service will be adjusted accordingly so guests are a safe distance from each other. Also, keep in mind that guests will likely be hesitant to hug each other or the family of the deceased. While it’s often our natural instinct to offer condolences through physical interaction, it’s important to be respectful of guests’ decision if they choose not to do so. Remember, it’s for the safety of everyone in attendance.
There are limits for the number of people who may gather for an event, based on local, state and/or federal guidelines. In order to follow these guidelines, your funeral director may have to limit the number of guests who are in the funeral home at one time. Rest assured, he or she will work to ensure each guest has the opportunity to be in the funeral home to pay their respects; however, this will require patience on behalf of you guests. Speak with your funeral director about gathering limits in your community.
Talk to your funeral director about the return of personal effects that may have been on your loved one at the time of death. Depending on the circumstances, they may need to be disinfected before being return to you.
Supporting Friends & Family When a Funeral Isn’t Possible
As you can imagine, not having the opportunity to hold a traditional funeral or memorial service can be very difficult for family and friends who would benefit from gathering and receiving the support of others as they begin the grief journey. Fortunately, there are still ways you can support them.
- Check in with grieving family members and friends often by phone. Invite them to tell you stories about their loved one and share stories of your own. Making personal connections with people who have recently experienced a loss is very beneficial as they begin to adjust to a world without their loved one. In addition, under normal circumstances, grief can be a very isolating experience. It is even more so now, given social distancing guidelines and people choosing to isolate themselves. Staying connected can make all the difference in the world to someone who is grieving.
- Sign the guest book on the funeral home’s website if there is one. Include a fond memory.
- Make a donation in the individual’s name and write a personal note to the family about your donation.
- Send a card and include a handwritten note about a memory you have of the individual or how that individual had an impact on your life.
- Make an offer to have the family or friends of the loved one over for dinner once social distancing is no longer required. Make sure you remember to follow through on your offer, even if it is months from now.
- Offer to have food delivered to their home or pick up a meal from a restaurant offering takeout food and deliver it to their home (if this option is available in your community).
- Fill a jar with memories of the loved one and mail it to the family. Family members can read the memories at their leisure and be reminded of special times.
Attending a Funeral
If you’ve been invited to attend a funeral, you may have some questions about whether it is safe to do so. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering attending a funeral:
- You have the option of politely declining to attend. Contact the family by phone or email to advise them of your decision. They’ll appreciate hearing from you and knowing you would be there if you could. When you call or write, share a memory of their loved one. In addition, see our list of ways you can support loved ones when you’re unable to express your condolences in person.
- If you are not feeling well, do not attend.
- Practice social distancing while at the funeral, even if you feel well. While you may want to express condolences by hugging family members and friends, social distancing recommendations apply, even at funerals. Politely explain that while it’s not possible for you to offer a hug at this time, you’d love to connect at a later date to do so. Instead, offer a fond memory of the individual who has died.
- Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons will be regulating the number of people allowed into the funeral home at any one time, depending on current guidelines. If you’re asked to wait outside or in your car, be patient. Our staff are doing their best to ensure everyone has the opportunity to pay their respects.
For answers to other questions about COVID-19 and Funerals, visit the Q&A on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. There you’ll find the most up-to-date answers to questions about attending funerals, including questions about attending a funeral for someone who has died of COVID-19:
If You Aren’t Able to Have a Funeral for a Loved One
If you’re unable to have a funeral for your loved one, or if it will be delayed, it may be difficult to accept that you will be limited in your ability to invite others to pay their respects and support you in your time of loss. There are, however, some things you can do to practice self-care and stay connected with family and friends while you begin the grief journey.
- Post notice of your loved one’s death on social media and invite your friends and family to post a memory and/or photo.
- Write a letter about your loved one and memories you have, make copies and mail them out to friends and family. Invite them to reply to you with memories of their own.
- Reach out to family and friends by phone. They’ll enjoy hearing from you and it’s an opportunity for you to share a memory of your loved one and for them to do the same.
- Keep a journal. As you are inspired to do so, write about memories of your loved one and how you are feeling about your grief. Share those memories with others as you are comfortable in doing so.