For most Americans, it has never been harder to say goodbye to loved ones than it has been during a global pandemic that has restricted our ability to celebrate the lives of those we’ve lost. Survivors must reckon with new and challenging feelings of guilt in a world without traditional, in-person funerals. A lack of closure and a sense of not having done right by the deceased have weighed on the minds of grieving families, whether they’ve been directly affected by the Coronavirus or not.
What we haven’t lost, however, is our shared sense of versatility, ingenuity, and resilience. Many companies have found ways for their employees to work from home while maintaining productivity. Schools have remotely taught everything from algebra to orchestra. We’ve found ways to go on.
This extends to grief and goodbyes. To the deeply traditional, planning a virtual funeral may seem almost worse than not having a funeral at all. But by inviting people to participate remotely, the bereaved may find outpourings of support, love, and friendship that will help carry them through a period of great personal and universal challenges.
Plan To Stream Seamlessly
Streaming your funeral service is the best way to include as many loved ones as possible. Of course, as any veteran of videoconferencing knows, much can go awry when we rely on technology. If you wish for guests to deliver eulogies or other prepared remarks, try to ensure they send you their video content in advance of the service. Public speaking is difficult and stressful enough for many people. Bypass the possibility of a call dropping mid-speech if possible. Once you’ve mastered the virtual, don’t forget to hang on to the physical.
Deliver Prayer Cards
Many mourners receive prayer cards at funeral services. For Roman Catholics, these cards that are about the size of a playing card usually feature a picture of a saint or a pivotal religious scene on the front, with a short prayer in memory of the deceased on the back. As keepsakes of funeral services, prayer cards extend to other faiths as well. In a world where so much has become intangible, a physical memento of a virtual funeral can go a long way in replicating the sense of normalcy we have lost, even without a religious association. Secular families can consider poems or spiritual remarks on cards, which they can mail to the homes of the virtual attendees.
Virtual Togetherness, Real Actions
It can be deeply reassuring to know that everyone, no matter where they are, is doing the same thing together as one. Decide upon shared actions, such as prayers, songs, or a toast, to honor the deceased. This will give all mourners a sense of community and shared purpose, reminding them that they are not alone in observing this loss. This will transform the virtual service from a passive one to an active one.
Learning how to plan a virtual funeral may seem daunting, with or without the resources of a dedicated funeral home. Know that in confronting the realities of a challenging world with creativity and perseverance, you will be honoring your loved one’s life in an unforgettable way.