It is still vital that we take the time to acknowledge a death within the family and wider community, but how do we do that within current restrictions?
At Alert Level 4, no matter what the cause of death, we need to co-operate.
Rites of Passage
After a person has died there are a series of transitions, all of which are an important part of the funeral process.
If family are present at the time of death in the home, they can perhaps wash and dress the deceased – a natural extension of the personal care they had given them in life. (This will be dependent on cause of death and current health and safety guidelines). It’s a valuable time to slow down, talk and reminisce. Often, these are the last moments spent with the person who has died.
If death has occurred in the hospice, rest home or hospital, clearly communicate your wishes to the staff, who will endeavour to co-operate should current protocols allow.
The next transition point is the funeral service. Currently, in the case of cremation, only family members within the same isolation bubble are able to attend. In the interim, family could have a digital funeral, using Zoom or have a physical memorial gathering when restrictions ease.
After cremation, there are the ashes, another transition. The decision may be to scatter or inter at a public cemetery, another future opportunity to gather.
If the person is being buried, only family within the same isolation bubble are able to be present and must be from the same region. The grave site can be readily revisited at any time once restrictions are lifted. The unveiling of the headstone could be a time to regather.
Value every interaction, no matter how minimal.
We take photos at weddings and birthdays but seem uncomfortable to do so at funerals. Attitudes are changing, as now almost everyone has a phone with a camera. Take any opportunity to capture the events, on film or audio, to share with those unable to attend. The gathering at the death bed, the burial or scattering of ashes.
There are many digital tribute websites where friends, colleagues and distant family can upload their stories, pictures and memories.
A funeral does not necessarily need to be a large, well attended event – often, those intimate, private gatherings can be just as significant.
Talk to us and we can work together to create new rituals for a thoughtful farewell.