Healthcare Tips

Honoring a Loved One During the COVID-19 Pandemic

October 16, 2020

It’s hard enough to lose a loved one. But add that we’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic and the grief could become overwhelming. Concern for the safety of your family and friends might even postpone some celebrations of life, but there are still impactful ways to honor the memories of those we’ve lost.

Find strength in smaller numbers

To avoid COVID-19 risks, some families are holding virtual memorial gatherings. Regardless of whether (or not) there are government restrictions on get-togethers, it’s still a good idea to minimize group sizes and the possible accidental spread of the virus.

Some mourners are using Zoom-type meetings, even for religious rituals. But if your family opts for an in-person funeral, you might consider limiting attendance to immediate relatives. The good news is that many funeral homes have restructured their processes to maintain COVID-19 social-distancing safety, require masks, and prioritize sanitizing high-touch areas, including the pens used to sign registers.

Travel safely or stay home to mourn

Travel safety risks are making it difficult for families to gather for funerals and memorial services, particularly given the short notice that typically accompanies these events. Consider creating online options for older relatives, who have higher risks if they contract the virus, and those whose health conditions prevent them from attending. And rather than invest in floral arrangements few will appreciate in person, your family can choose a charity for memorial donations.

Write remembrances; gather images

Written remembrances are a powerful way to celebrate a life well lived. To capture perspectives from an entire family, an e-mail chain can simplify the process of gathering stories and anecdotes. Many relatives downplay the importance of their recollections, but sometimes little memories carry the biggest impact. Snapshots and videos also help preserve important milestones, especially for younger people.

Create a tribute

Tributes can be as simple as a traditional grave marker and as spontaneous as a pop-up memorial, but all can evoke and create important memories in the wake of loss. Backyard shrines, a set of DIY benches, and planting gardens are all ways to honor loved ones without gatherings.

Another option is to take the deceased person’s personality into account. For example, in memory of a family member who was an avid bird watcher, set up feeders and birdbaths in your yard. Or honor a great cook by creating a cookbook of family recipes.

However you decide to celebrate your loved one, rest assured that a person’s life matters more than their cause of death. And when you focus on achievements, a sense of humor, kindness, and meaningful moments, you can create a lasting tribute no matter how you do it. But if grief becomes overwhelming, contacting the therapists at Hancock Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.