How Funeral Homes Have Adjusted for Covid
by Alex Johnson December 04, 2020 5 min read
Once we all began to realize how long the pandemic precautions would remain in place, businesses across the world figured out how to adjust for these modern times. Restaurants began spacing out their tables and moving more seating to the outdoors, gyms began incorporating frequent cleaning, and schools replaced ventilation systems, just to name a few.
Adaptability has become essential to the survival of so many businesses, and they’ve risen to the challenge. Among those who have been working to accommodate the needs of customers considering the pandemic, has been funeral homes. To ensure the safety of each and every family, to protect all employees, and to make sure all state and county guidelines are followed, funeral homes have taken key steps to allow for the mourning process without endangering anyone.
Families still need to process the loss of a loved one. They need funerals and ceremonies to give their final farewells when they’ve experienced a death. Most families feel some sort of funeral treatment allows them to have closure, making it easier to accept and move on after the passing of a loved one. To allow the opportunity to safely hold these types of ceremonies, funeral homes have made changes to accommodate live streaming services, drive thru funerals, and online or virtual tributes.
Live Streaming Services
One of the uses of technology during the pandemic has been the use of video conferencing and live video feeds during meetings, ceremonies, or other events. In fact, many high schools even chose to live stream their graduation ceremonies so that families back at home or across the country still had the moment of hearing their name and cheering in celebration.
This same premise is being applied to funerals to allow in the mourning process for both immediate family and friends and other relatives. This typically looks like a traditional funeral ceremony, which is attended by only the closest family members, or those within one or two households. This allows for the social distancing measures to stay in effect, while still allowing the opportunity for those closest to remain present.
Meanwhile, via a digital set up, there is a camera that allows for all elements of the ceremony to be seen and heard. This live streams to a link, which has been previously distributed to other friends and family not in attendance. This way, they can safely observe the entire ceremony from anywhere across the world without needing to travel or face exposure from either a laptop or a cell phone. There are a range of apps and programs to stream the service, and families will find out from the funeral home what they need to have in advance.
Drive-thru or drive-by services have been another growing way for families to connect while keeping one another safe from exposure. One advantage of it over that of streaming or virtual services is that it does allow the family members and friends to drive up to the funeral ceremony to pay their regards.
Typically, the closest and most immediate family members of the deceased will be granted access outside their vehicles, near the casket or remains. Then, a procession of cars is granted access, with each car pausing to give their condolences and messages of love to the family. It allows households to experience the power of face-to-face interactions and well-wishes, while also allowing for the 6 feet or more of required distance between households. Sometimes, the presence of friends and family can help tremendously with the healing process, which gives this system an added benefit over virtual or streaming services.
Drive-by or drive-thru services might take a while longer, however, when compared to virtual or streaming services. Families will wish to take a moment to converse or share their condolences, and since the procession must pass as one car at a time, it can mean some cars might be paused for some time. However, it still allows for a meaningful and someone in-person ceremony.
Online or Virtual Tributes
The use of online or virtual tributes are a wonderful way to commemorate the life of a loved one in a common forum where friends and family alike can share memories and feelings. Some funeral homes provide families with links to an online forum as part of their services. This forum can be shared and opened to other close friends and family so that they can leave messages of love, share grief, and provide condolences.
These online tribute spaces can be done in conjunction with streaming services and are an excellent choice for families who chose to keep the ceremony private but want to allow other people to participate in the mourning process. Online tribute spaces are an opportunity to grieve in a virtual space together since being physically together isn’t safe just yet. It’s also a convenient way to find all the messages in one location for family members to reminisce upon.
In addition to messages, many online memorial websites include the ability to attach photographs, sign a guest book, share stories, and some even allow the lighting of a virtual candle. Others allow the symbolic placement of flowers in memoriam. Online memorials can last as long as a family wants and can even be made into personal slideshows to capture the memories.
Personalizing Your Services to Your Needs
When deciding which type of funeral service your family might want, there are some important considerations that might help ease the process. Here are some questions to ask yourself or your family, and how that might affect your decision:
- How many people are likely to attend?If the number is very high, then a drive-by service might take too long. Likewise, if there are only a few family members, then a live-stream service might not be needed.
- What are the requirements of your state or county?Different states have different requirements for gatherings- some allow outdoor but spaced-out services, while others allow no more than three households to convene in one space. If you’re hoping to do a drive-thru or a small live-stream, you might need to know the rules allowed.
- Do you want multiple options?In theory, you aren’t locked in on only one option. If you and your family want to plan for a live streaming service and have a virtual tribute, you can. If your family wants to allow a drive-thru funeral in addition to the online tributes, you can. Decide what methods you find meaning in and discuss how to go about making a choice.
- Are your family members mostly nearby? If you only have a few family members within the closest vicinity, then having a drive-thru funeral might be a waste of time. Likewise, if you don’t have many family members far away, then a live streaming service might not be needed.
Regardless, making the best choice for you and your family can be a hard one. Consider what is the best way to honor the life and passing of your beloved family member, and find solace in the idea that even though you cannot all be together in the funeral home, there are still options to allow for mourning and farewells.
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