Funerals in COVID-19 times
When my dear uncle died in early March, my cousins and I set about preparing his funeral, scheduled for 23 March.
It soon became clear that what we planned and what we could do were very different. By the time I took the service in church it was just me and immediate family. A few days later, we would not have been in church at all.
It can be a stark discomfort to attend a funeral in the current times. Numbers are restricted. We cannot go into church at all. Those who have known a particular church as their spiritual home (perhaps all their life) will never make their final journey through its door. However, there are things we can do to adapt and help people be comforted by God’s all-encompassing love. Indeed, our challenge as Christians is to help people know God’s love, even in trying circumstances.
With that in mind, here are some suggestions for all church members to remember:
- Be mindful of those who will have not had opportunity to say farewell to a loved one. This is especially hard so bear this in mind and offer a listening ear.
- If people cannot attend a funeral, remind them to pray at home at the time of the funeral. Lighting a candle, being still, saying the Lord’s Prayer, reading Psalm 23 may be comforting.
- Encourage families to write cards, emails or send text messages to those who can’t attend. If you cannot attend a funeral let the family know you’re with them in prayer and in spirit.
- It may be possible to record or livestream a funeral service. Some crematoriums offer this.
- Clergy may be willing to print and share their words along with other tributes used at the service. These can be emailed or posted to those who could not attend.
- Encourage bereaved families to think about a suitable memorial service at a later date. This could be a big, grand, full service or something very simple.
There are some really useful resources to be found on the Church of England website: www.churchofengland.org/life-events/funerals We must remain committed to supporting the bereaved through their journey of grief. We must acknowledge that it’s always tough but made more so in the current times. We must endeavour to guide people to the light and peace of God’s comforting presence.
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