How to Make Safe Funeral Arrangements During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Once routine, gathering in large groups to honour a loved one’s life now seems a distant memory. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, new rules and regulations have been enforced to limit the spread of the life-threatening virus. Although visitations, funerals, and burials may look different these days, it is still possible to come together to grieve. By following COVID-19 measures, Arbor Memorial locations are helping families say goodbye to their loved ones safely. Keep in mind that because the pandemic is a fluid situation, COVID-19 guidelines are subject to change.
Funerals During COVID-19
Similar to any other public gathering, social distancing is key to reducing the risk of transmitting COVID-19 during funerals. Whether they’re conducted inside or outside, staying at least six feet apart from other people who are not in your household during the gathering is recommended.
There may be many familial and cultural pressures put on you when making funeral arrangements. During COVID-19, it’s important to recognize that certain expectations may need to be adjusted to protect the health of everyone involved.
Making Funeral Arrangements During COVID-19
Reducing the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 virus begins when making funeral, cremation, and memorial service arrangements with your funeral home.
Planning for a funeral service does not need to be delayed due to the pandemic and the choice to bury or cremate is still available. Typically, these types of arrangements are made in-person at our funeral homes. To help lower the risk, there is now an option for these meetings to take place virtually or over the phone.
If an in-person meeting is necessary, we have a set of preventative measures that we implement including answering screening questions, wearing a mask and sanitizing upon entrance, and practising social distancing. Anyone who is currently sick or may have been exposed to the virus should not attend in-person meetings. Those with a higher risk of severe illness or have recently travelled should complete funeral arrangements virtually.
We understand the importance of cultural or religious traditions and aim to preserve these traditions whenever it’s possible to do so. In situations where concerns have been identified with virus transmission risk, we will work closely with you to meet the wishes of you and your loved one in a safer manner.
We offer a variety of funeral modifications to help prevent the spread of the virus. These include conducting the service virtually, extending visitation hours to safely accommodate large groups of people, and planning a memorial service for a future date when guidelines are less restrictive. If the latter is chosen, we can also arrange to have a small funeral service now for immediate family only.
We practise extreme caution when handling any deceased person in our funeral homes, including a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 carrier. Presently, there is no known risk related to being in the same room as a decedent who had COVID-19.
Holding Visitations, Funerals, and Receptions During COVID-19
Regional guidelines help protect the health of funeral attendees and funeral home staff and reduce the potential for community spread. The number of attendees at a funeral, visitation, or reception is limited to a city’s legislation which is enforced by our funeral home staff. We recommend that people with a higher risk of severe illness or who have difficulty with social distancing should consider attending the service virtually.
While making funeral arrangements in-person or during a funeral or visitation, the wearing of masks is enforced at all times. Although masks aren’t always required outside, we do ask that you wear them then, too. As difficult as it may be, common greeting and comforting practices such as hugging or handshakes with others outside of your immediate household should be avoided.
For attendees who do not live in the same household, seating during the service will be spaced six feet apart. Depending on the city your funeral home is located in, singing during the service may not be permitted. Non-household members should not share vehicles when travelling to the gravesite.
Food during a reception service is being handled differently as well. When possible, individual pre-packaged boxes or bags should be offered instead of potluck, buffet, or family-style meals and physical distancing measures should always be followed.
Like our funeral homes, our cemetery grounds require safety measures (such as wearing masks where appropriate) to be followed. If we reach our maximum occupancy limit, we’ll ask you to wait before the entrance and appreciate your patience. We also provide the option to tune into the burial service via a special radio station in your vehicle. This is a wonderful opportunity for situations where the weather, physical capabilities, or attendee number limitations prevent someone from coming directly to the gravesite.
Bereavement and Grief Support During COVID-19
Honouring the life of a loved one is always a unique situation and involves many emotional and spiritual components. During our current pandemic situation, stress and overwhelm can increase, making bereavement and grief support more important than ever.
Arbor Memorial offers numerous supports to help you cope with the loss of a family member or friend. Online support groups provide an opportunity for grievers to offer support to one another regardless of their geographic location. For one-on-one, personalized support, private grief therapy is an option and can be done virtually.
For families using Arbor Memorial services, our Bereavement Assistance Program is a great benefit to explore. Offered online, this free support series comes straight to your email and helps you navigate your grief journey.
Honouring the life of your loved one is an important part of the grieving process. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges involving traditional funeral arrangements, our funeral staff is committed to providing safe opportunities for final goodbyes.
At Arbor Memorial, we are doing everything we can to keep you safe while honouring the life of your loved one. To learn more about the current COVID-19 guidelines that we are following, contact the closest location near you.