It has been months, and yet we still find ourselves in the midst of “unprecedented times.” As the world continues to grapple with the effects and uncertainty of a pandemic we have to find new ways to do many things. We may also encounter unexpected obstacles in our path when we wish to support loved ones or pay our respects when someone has died. So how do we say farewell when we are unable to be present at a funeral? How do we plan a funeral when we know that not everyone can attend?
There are many reasons why people may be unable to attend a public memorial. Travel restrictions may be in place, illness may be present, or there may be high-risk individuals who need to limit the number of people with whom they come in contact. Government directives also change as the pandemic continues to unfold, and at times the number of people allowed to gather in one place is restricted. All of these things can increase the logistics of planning a service, and can add to the complicated emotions of losing a loved one. Some individuals also have the added grief of being unable to visit a loved one in the hospital due to hospital regulations, and miss the opportunity to say goodbye in person or comfort them in their final moments.
When one is filled with such strong emotions it is even more important to find a way to begin to process those emotions. The way you do that, or honor a loved one who has passed, is up to you. Here are some suggestions to help you find a way to say goodbye.
First of all, it is important to remember that there are no rules on when a service should be held. Morrissett can work with you to craft a service that is safe and comfortable for those in attendance, and in the time frame that is best for you. We can also help customize the memorial so that it reflects the individuality of the person who has died and is a true celebration of their life.
If you are the one planning a memorial you may wish to wait for a later date until more people are able to attend. In the interim we encourage loved ones to hold some sort of small or private ceremony or moment of remembrance. This can help begin the grieving process and make people feel less like their grief is on hold, waiting for a future event.
All of our services are live-streamed, so even if loved ones are unable to attend in person they can join virtually. The services are also recorded and available for later viewing.
Once the memorial is over families can be creative in spending time together and continuing to remember the one who has died. An online message board can be used to post thoughts, memories, pictures, videos, and words of encouragement. Video chats and moments of laughter and sharing stories can also bring joy and comfort. One family held a “hymn sing” and sang their grandmother’s favorite songs together via Zoom. If such technology is not available to everyone there are also websites such as FreeConferenceCall.com that offer free phone conferences. Even simple gestures such as sending a card or letter in the mail can make a big difference to someone and help them feel less alone. Being connected to loved ones is an important aspect of the grieving process.
If you are the one who cannot attend a service in person you may find it beneficial and meaningful to hold a remembrance ritual on your own. Light a candle, say a prayer, read a poem, plant a tree , or release flowers into the water. There are many ways that you can take a moment of reflection and gratitude for the one who has passed. Afterwards you may wish to take a photograph and send it to others who are also grieving. If there is a burial you cannot attend but know someone who is you could even send a note for them to place in the casket for you, time permitting.
Despite these complicated times there are still many special & creative ways you can say goodbye. We are here to help you & your family plan a celebration of your loved one’s life that works best for you. Please reach out to us at
Morrissett Funeral and Cremation Service,
Serving families in the greater Richmond area since 1870
6500 Iron Bridge Rd.
N. Chesterfield, VA 23234
Jennifer Roberts Bittner
Certified Celebrant/ Life Tribute Specialist