Planning a Funeral During the Coronavirus Outbreak: 7+ Tips
Coronavirus (or more specifically COVID-19) has thrown a lot of families and communities into an unexpected state of stress. Many families are cancelling funerals in an attempt to keep their friends and families safe or are unsure about what to do. The good news is that you don’t need to sacrifice your chance to say goodbye to a loved one because of coronavirus. Here are some tips on how to plan a funeral while maintaining social distance. Many people may choose to combine several of these.
Tip 1: Hold a memorial service or celebration of life at a later date
Historically, funerals were held immediately following a death due to burial needs, but the rise in cremation has given families significantly more flexibility. It’s becoming more common (even pre-coronavirus) for families to wait a few months before holding a memorial service or celebration of life, as it allows more time to plan and reduces stress during a highly emotional time. Even if you choose to bury your loved one and have some time pressure there, it’s perfectly fine to do the burial with a small group and have a larger event later in the year. This will allow time (hopefully) for travel and group gatherings to become safer.
Tip 2: Consider lowering the number of attending guests
The average funeral has about 100 attendees; meanwhile the CDC recommends no gathering over 50 people due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Consider circulating invites to family and close friends only. You can let people know that the funeral is private as a result of coronavirus in the obituary and/or memorial website, but invite them to share their memories on the memorial website.
Tip 3: Live stream the service
Live streaming the funeral is a great way to let family and friends attend the funeral without physically being present. Live streaming is generally easy to set up, user friendly, and accessible to anyone with a phone, tablet, or computer. Check out our guide for some tips, as well as an overview of the popular services.
Be sure that you share the live streaming details with all who may be interested in attending remotely, and try to get ahead of any technical questions that might crop up by giving a brief overview of what to expect during the service.
Tip 4: Hold the service outdoors
If you’re in an area where coronavirus risks are lower, you may still be alright to have a group gathering, but you should try to abide by the general 6 feet of distance rule. You can opt to hold the funeral service outdoors and request that all attendees stay at least 6 feet away from each other throughout the service. You can assist in this by setting up chairs and ensuring they are equally spread apart using the recommended guidelines. Set up hand sanitizers at multiple spots outdoors and encourage everyone to maintain social distance. If there is food that’s still being served, it might be a good idea to pre-portion and set up individual servings separately and to make sure all foodstaff are wearing proper protective gear.
Tip 5: Change to individual portions instead of banquet style catering
If you’re able to still host an in person funeral and have a plan in place for catering, consider changing from banquet style to individual portions. This will prevent a lot of contact with food and help prevent the spread of illness. Ask your caterer if they have the ability to individually portion out any food that will be served at the funeral.
Tip 6: Host a virtual get-together
A virtual get together can be hosted by any major online chat platform. Some popular services include Google Hangouts, Skype, and Discord. When you host a virtual get-together, it’s a good idea to have some kind of plan in mind for how you’d like the event to go. You could share your intended itinerary with anyone who will be attending the conference by email or text. It’s also a good idea to make an event on your Ever Loved page, that way anyone subscribed will be updated as soon as the event is created.
A virtual hangout is a good way to allow people the space to share their favorite stories or memories of the person who passed away and to connect with family members and friends they might’ve lost touch with. If you choose to host a virtual get together on a platform like Google Hangouts, you can even share your screen where you can show viewers a slideshow or all of the memories that have been posted on your memorial website.
Tip 7: Coordinate over the phone, instead of in-person
Most funeral homes and other businesses are equipped to handle coordinating event details over the phone, so there’s no need to unnecessarily expose yourself to more people. While many funeral homes may recommend that you visit in person, this isn’t a legal requirement. Ask for funeral homes, cemeteries and any other potential vendors to email you their price lists and packages, as well as any paperwork that needs to be signed. Use the phone or video chat to get any questions answered. If they aren’t able to accommodate this, it’s probably a good idea to work with a different business.
Tip 8: Send out virtual funeral announcements, rather than physical cards
Sending out a funeral announcement online is an easy way to inform your community of the events regarding a loved one's death. You can collect RSVPs, update event information, upload the program, and more by setting up events on a memorial website. This will reduce the amount of physical memorabilia and objects attendees need to touch or interact with.
Tip 9: Avoid singing & chanting
While singing hymns and performing group readings out loud are part of many traditional funerals, it's generally a good idea to avoid singing in an enclosed space with a large gathering of people around you. Singing and being in a large group of people who are singing can increase your risk of catching COVID-19.
Funerals are important events, and we hate knowing that coronavirus is making things even more stressful for grieving families. Fortunately, you can still have a very meaningful funeral for your loved one.