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Grieving FamilyThere’s no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has left indelible marks on every aspect of our society and culture. Major life events such as weddings and funerals have been impacted, thanks to stay-at-home orders and physical distancing practices to limit the coronavirus’s spread. As we navigate life during the second half of 2020, we’ll probably know friends and family whose loved ones die. Whether you interact with the bereaved up close or at a distance, some basic grief etiquette pointers plus new practices can be helpful.

Don’t Assume You Can Attend the Funeral

As of June 1, the CDC strongly advises against large public gatherings. Keeping groups to 10 people or fewer is still suggested, and using virtual technologies for communication and connection is highly recommended. Even as states and smaller jurisdictions reopen, most public officials still recommend smaller groups and keeping a safe distance apart from each other.

Families have tough decisions to make regarding funeral and memorials. They’ll have to follow local laws and restrictions imposed by funeral homes and houses of worship. In many cases, only close family will be able to attend in-person services. This means you may not be included, but it’s important to keep a gracious attitude. Consider attending a livestream of the memorial if the option is available.

Observe Proper Video Conferencing Protocols

Livestreamed memorial services can be one-way or two-way transmissions. You may be allowed to speak during the service, so common etiquette guidelines for workplace video conferencing can apply. Inc.’s Nicole Marie Richardson lists several of these guidelines:

  • Arrive punctually and devote your full attention.
  • Don’t use your phone unless you’re attending the stream on the device.
  • If asked to speak, do so clearly and enunciate your words.
  • To avoid distracting others, limit your body movements.
  • Dress appropriately.

Tips for In-Person Memorial Services

You’ve probably heard or seen social distancing guidelines a thousand times. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember these practices if you attend any funerals in person. Many of us are naturally inclined toward physical touch, especially during emotionally challenging times. Vox staff writer Alex Ward adds that physical distancing practices leave both grieving people and funeral care professionals at a loss. It can feel unusual to refrain from hugging, or drawing close to provide comfort, or even simple acts like offering tissues.

Fortunately, Schoedinger Funeral Home provides an online guide for funeral guests during the COVID-19 pandemic. First, observe local regulations and wear a cloth mask while attending. Second, avoid close contact with the deceased’s family and other mourners. Remember other safety practices such as handwashing and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Finally, consider staying home if you do not feel well.

Make Your Words Count

You may not be able to comfort the bereaved in person, but your words can minister to others’ hearts. advises against trying to rationalize someone’s death, claiming to know how a grieving person feels, fixing their sorrow, or admonishing them to be strong. Instead, be honest and genuine. You may not know what to say, but there’s no shame in admitting this. Other good ways to reach out include offering support, a listening ear, practical assistance, or even a fond memory of the deceased.

COVID-19 has drastically impacted how we mourn our dead and comfort each other. Whether you attend a live memorial, a virtual funeral, or connect with the bereaved in other ways, adapting to the new normal is important. Above all, simply letting others know that you care is a powerful act. As the late Maya Angelou put it, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Category: Loss

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