If you’ve lost a loved one during the Coronavirus pandemic, we are truly sorry.
Whether your loss is coronavirus-related or a death occurred during this time of chaos and confusion, we want to help you understand your options. We hope you’ll find these FAQs useful, and that you’ll share them with anyone they might benefit. We’ve also set up a free national Coronavirus email where we’re standing by to help with more advice, resources, and just plain kindness.
No question is too trivial, the help is free, and we’d be so glad to hear from you. There's an email, too, if you prefer that. Just reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
CORONAVIRUS FUNERAL FAQs:
My loved one has died of Coronavirus-related causes. How do I plan a funeral?
Funeral directors at funeral homes across the country have been given government guidelines and protocols, along with educational information from the National Funeral Directors Association. Since guidelines may vary locally, for the moment it’s best to contact a local funeral provider in your area. They can walk you through your options. Before you call a funeral home, you may want to download our free funeral planning checklist which will help you look at the bigger picture of organizing details.
We’ve lost a loved one to a non-Coronavirus cause. Does that still affect us in terms of planning a funeral?
Yes, sadly it does. Read below for some of what the current regulations include, but do ask your local funeral provider to confirm everything, as the coronavirus situation is constantly changing and regulations vary somewhat locally. Find a local funeral home.
What are the restrictions and regulations for funerals during the pandemic?
First off, your dear one will still be treated with respect and care. Remember that funeral directors and their teams are used to dealing with death in many different difficult situations.
Next, you will still have the option to choose cremation or burial. It’s mainly the funeral gathering and your behaviors with regard to the body itself that will be different during the Coronavirus outbreak.
Now for the rules. Here’s a basic list, but do check with your funeral professional for the latest.
- The number of people that can attend is now extremely limited. In many places it is suggested now to keep the number at 10 or fewer, depending on capacity. But that number is likely going to change as news stories are reported of the risks of attending any size group gathering. Already many funeral homes have limited funerals to even fewer attendees.
- Funeral arrangements, while normally made in person at the funeral home, are now largely being made via email and phone, with document signing being handled in various ways depending on the provider. Ask your provider what the process will be.
- Anyone attending a funeral while the COVID-19 virus is still active should practice social distancing even when at the venue.
- If family and/or friends are sick or may have been exposed to the person who died (if they died of Coronavirus related causes), they should not attend the funeral.
- The elderly and more vulnerable should be particularly cautious and think twice before attending.
- Funeral directors are suggesting families delay or host the funeral online.
- It is only advisable to host a gathering at the graveside if there is a burial so people are outdoors with more opportunity for safe social distancing.
- Sadly, churches, temples and mosques are largely suspending services now, so an in-person religious service may be undoable at the current moment.
- Lastly, and we know this can seem so impersonal--like many things about Coronavirus--it is strongly suggested that families do not touch the body.
This sudden loss has left us without funds to pay for a funeral. What can we do?
Although there are measures to supplement income during Coronavirus, as of the moment there is no federal program to help with funeral costs, but a reputable funeral provider will be able to show you the most economical options that are available. As a general rule, cremation is often less expensive than burial. And one other note. If your loved one was a veteran of the United States Armed Services, they may qualify for benefits, but you do need to contact the Veteran's Authority immediately. These links may help you:
VA Burial Benefits and Memorial Items
VA Burial, Headstone and Plot Rates
If we can’t have a funeral or memorial right now, what are some ways we can honor and celebrate the person who has died?
We know that not being able to gather, cry together, hug each other and just simply be in the presence of friends and loved ones after a death is a true hardship, so let’s just say it. This really sucks. It just does.
That being said, there are some creative ways to think about celebrating the beautiful life of your loved one, beautifully. Here are four ideas, and if you have others, please email us at email@example.com as we are trying to inspire and assist.
- Tiny funeral + webcast. Some funeral homes are equipped with live-streaming technology, and others are scrambling to get up to speed or at least permitting video calls in certain instances, so you can ask when you are choosing a funeral home. The celebration itself may be small but you might be able to share it online, and even have a recording of it.
- An online memorial event. It can feel so terrible not to be able to celebrate the life of someone you love at the time of their death. But while you may have to wait to plan the memorial IRL, you could host an online “open house” memorial via Zoom, Google Hangouts, or another online meeting platform. As the host, you can create a “meeting” and let folks sign on and off open-house-style for a few hours or all day. You can ask each person to light a candle when they join, or to tell a story. It has been amazing throughout the COVID-19 outbreak to see how many people are gathering and connecting virtually. This can be a gift in a time where we are all so far away from each other.
- Create a social-distance-friendly IRL memorial. Find a spot in your backyard or a tree on a local hiking trail and designate it as a temporary memorial place. Let friends and family know where it is and ask them to bring a flower, a stone with words written on it, a note, or another natural marker. People can come when they like, and you can visit this fleeting memorial yourself. Just make sure to tell them not to leave lit candles if the spot is not attended.
- Remember your loved one by helping others. Ask friends and family to make a donation to a cause that’s important to you or your loved one. Whether it’s a Coronavirus charity or another organization that feels right, it’s odd, but often giving to others is a very healing way to honor the memory of someone dear.
What If We Want to Have a Great Big Memorial Party...Only Later?
Now that’s the spirit of Farewelling! Sometimes the very best things are worth waiting for. A delayed memorial can actually be a great idea for a variety of reasons--more time to plan, more people who may be able to travel to be a part of it, more flexibility and options, more chance to personalize a real hootenanny! And guess what? Farewelling wants to help with that too.
Our CEO and founder, Karen Bussen (who also happens to be an internationally recognized entertaining expert) will donate her time to help up to 10 families brainstorm ideas to personalize an amazing celebration -- or farewelling, as we like to call it -- for when the time is right. If you’d like to talk to Karen about how to give your loved one the celebration they deserve, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our thoughts, prayers and good wishes are with you and yours in this difficult time.