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Planning a Safe Memorial During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has changed how we mourn the loss of a loved one. Sharing our grief is an important part of the healing process. Plan ahead to host a safe memorial.
Planning a Safe Memorial During the Pandemic

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The pandemic has changed how we live our lives, but it’s also dramatically altered how we mourn the loss of a loved one. At a time when hundreds of thousands of Americans are succumbing to COVID-19 we can’t be there for loved ones like before. And we can’t have memorial services like we did not long ago.

The last thing you want is to endanger friends and family, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a remembrance. You just have to make concessions and plan ahead to host a safe memorial that protects guests. 

Keep the Event Small and Outdoors

There are still a lot of unknowns about the coronavirus, but one thing that is certain is being outdoors is safer than being indoors. And the fewer people that are at a gathering the lower the risk is for spreading the virus. 

Limit the number of people who are at the memorial in-person to 10 or less if possible. The memorial should be in an open-air venue that’s large enough to make social distancing easy. 

Make Masks a Must

Wearing a mask has become a politicized topic, but there is very strong evidence that it does minimize the spread of the coronavirus. All guests should wear masks for any in-person memorial or graveside service even if it’s outside. It’s a small sacrifice to make to honor a loved one and prevent others from getting sick because they wanted to attend the memorial. 

Arrange Assigned Seating 6 Feet Apart

Following social distancing guidelines is much easier if you assign seating ahead of time. You can make sure seats are at least six feet apart for anyone that isn’t in the same household. Before the memorial let guests know that there will be assigned seating and that guests need to remain in their seat during the ceremony.

Have a Plan for People Arriving and Leaving

It’s easy to keep people distanced once they’re seated if you assign the seats. However, people will still be tempted to mingle when they arrive and leave. You’ll need to circumvent this problem to minimize contact. 

One way of doing that is to have a staggered arrival time. Have small groups arrive every 10 minutes so they can get seated without socializing. You can do the same thing for making an exit. Have the people at the back leave first in a group of 10 or less and slowly make your way towards the front.

Stream the Memorial for Others to See Online

You can avoid any potential spread of the virus by streaming the memorial online. Like business meetings, dates and family get-togethers, funerals and memorials have gone high-tech during the pandemic. 

A virtual memorial can be every bit as meaningful as a traditional memorial. You can ask guests to give readings or share stories. You can also get people to share photos and videos for a memorial collage. Before the memorial service ask all guests if they’d like to share something so that you can create a program to send everyone.  

In addition to being safer than an in-person memorial, doing an online remembrance allows everyone to be involved, including those who wouldn’t be able to attend offline. In that way you are actually bringing more people together to celebrate the life of your loved one. 

Postponing the Memorial 

Some families are choosing to postpone memorials until it’s safer. That could mean planning to hold the memorial on the year anniversary of the person’s passing, or you could have it on another significant date like the person’s birthday. 

Doing so gives you more time to mourn on your own, and it can allow more people to be there in-person for the remembrance. 

Sharing our grief is an important part of the healing process after a death. Making a connection with others who understand your grief makes a huge difference, even if the interaction isn’t in person. The memorial you plan may not be anything like what you imagined, but it can be every bit as meaningful while being safe.

Picture of Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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