Funeral Guidance for Individuals and Families during Covid-19

J Geils Funeral Services

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Funeral Guidance for Individuals and Families

It can be difficult to grieve the death of a loved one during panic and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic. People will have trouble making choices about how to properly grieve and remember their loved one. This guidance is for individuals and families to plan and hold funeral services and visits during the funeral, with funeral directors, community and religious leaders and others during COVID-19.

Many people became ill with COVID-19 in some situations after attending a funeral service. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in communities, the way in which funerals, visitations and memorials are held for the deceased needs to be changed. This advice includes techniques for protecting yourself and others as you grieve a loved one ‘s death, support each other and make funerals funeral arrangements, and participating in funeral services and visitations. Some examples include:
Using technology to connect virtually with family and friends during the grieving process.

Considering modified funeral arrangements, such as limiting attendance at funerals held during shortly after the time of death to a small number of immediate family members and friends; and then holding additional memorial services when social distancing guidelines are less restrictive.

Practicing social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet between attendees, facility staff, and clergy or officiants when small, in-person services are held.

Considering modifications to funeral rites and rituals (for example, avoid touching the deceased person’s body or personal belongings or other ceremonial objects) to make sure of everyone’s safety.

Wearing cloth face coverings while around others and outside of your home.

Practice social distancing while making funeral arrangements.

Discuss the cultural or religious practices and the deceased’s funeral wishes with family members and the people you interact with (funeral home employees, clergy or police, if applicable).

Define possible issues, and identify ways for making improvements to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. Preserve traditional practices where this can be achieved safely, and determine whether changed or new practices will fulfill your and your loved one’s needs and values.
Consider whether amended funeral arrangements would be acceptable by limiting attendance to a small number of immediate family members and friends shortly after death. Consider holding additional memorial services in the future when less restrictive are the social distancing guidelines.

Consider how emotionally challenging social distancing activities may be for the attendees when making decisions on who will participate (such as holding at least 6 feet apart and not touching other participants who do not live in their household).

Tell the people for whom you work (funeral workers, clergy or officers) about the services they can offer, such as:

  • Digital video sharing, or recorded footage, virtual funeral services, visits, and remembrance tributes.
  • Consider possible problems with access to infrastructure and high-speed internet by virtual attendants, as well as how any technical difficulties may emerge during service could impact the event.
  • Online guestbooks or remembrance books, allowing people to exchange memories, condolence notes, or photos.
  • Assistance with sharing specifics of the funeral services schedule and visits with extended family and friends, including how to communicate compassionately any improvements to traditional procedures and why they are needed.

Practice social distancing and everyday preventive actions

Consider holding services and gatherings in a large, well-ventilated area or outdoors, as circumstances and traditions allow.

Space out seating for attendees who do not live in the same household to at least six feet apart.

Attendees who do not live in the same household should stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart and wear a cloth face covering when interacting with people who do not live in their household.

People who have been living in the same household can comfort each other in typical ways such as hugging, holding hands, and sitting next to each other.

Attendees should nod, bow, or wave instead of holding or shaking hands, hugging, or kissing anyone who does not live in their household.

All attendees should follow everyday preventive actions to protect themselves and others from COVID-19, such as washing your hands often and covering coughs and sneezes.

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