As a society, we have never really had to observe our faith, spirituality, or grief in such a remote fashion before. Some churches have been making audio or video recordings of their services for those unable to leave their homes for quite some time, but this is different. Those recordings are made with parishioners present, creating an ‘energetic dialogue’ between speaker and audience. This interaction isn’t necessarily present when the sermons are given to an empty office in their own homes.
In a time of worship or bereavement, people yearn for in-person fellowship with one another. Since this personal contact isn’t possible now, people are grieving that loss of connection.
With the luxury of technology, many have embraced video streaming and video calls, but there isn’t consistent access, nor a reliability of ease of use. This presents an obstacle to bring faith or funeral rituals and customs to the masses. Here are some ideas to help people stay connected: Alternative Ways to Observe the Death of a Loved One During Social Isolation.
“Often low-tech options like the telephone are more comforting than asking people without the experience to learn new computer skills, especially when they are anxious in times of crisis. But many are learning and see this as an opportunity to find new ways to connect to family, church, and community.”
How are we asking communities to practice faith and observe grief?
Along with spiritual leaders, we are encouraging private moments of reflection or connection to spirituality via methods that work for each and every individual – by prayers, meditation, writing, reading, and more. Valuing one’s safety and the safety of others is an expression of compassion, caring, and faith.
Making an effort to reach out by phone, text, email, and social media are still a means to make ourselves accessible and hopefully connected.
Participation and interaction will likely be dependent on technology.
In these times of distancing, innovators like us and Reverend Mike Perreault are working hard to accommodate families in their faith and their time of need. We are working on videography, collaboration with our associates to serve our communities better.
Can virtual leadership provide your community with the spirituality they may be craving?
“It can enhance and celebrate it, but their spirituality is already within them. I am working to help them express their faith and be fed by that of others.” – Reverend Mike Perreault
We will be working alongside families to express their grief or their chosen faith.
Even though there is a tendency to have funeral or memorial arrangements take place at natural intervals, services, burials and closing affairs are on different schedules during this Covid-19 crisis.
Cremation, which is gaining in popularity, lends itself a great deal of flexibility for service timelines. More time is allowed to pass between death and services. With families being spread worldwide, delays in services are quite common already. Postponing as a regular practice, beyond a regular time frame could have an unfavourable impact. Some families, with time limitations for services choose to have an Anniversary Commemoration. An Anniversary Commemoration is designed to honour and celebrate a loved one’s memory on or near the anniversary of their passing, their birthday or other important milestone. This service may be preferred by those families who were unable to celebrate their loved one at the time of their passing. This event is similar to a celebration of life; but may take place in a more informal venue, such as a favourite place of the deceased, or a family member’s home. It can be more personalized, without time constraints often surrounding more formal memorial celebrations. Visit Basic Funerals’ Legacy Celebrations for more details about personalized service options.
Families can also select to have a simple graveside casket burial with immediate family present. A Celebration of Life can be held at a later date.
“It seems to me there are necessary steps in helping people move forward with their lives after a loved one dies.” – Reverend Mike Perreault
It is our job to mitigate this need. Relationships with our colleagues, family, friends, and community can continue to feel stronger and richer as a result of intentionally reaching out in new ways in the midst of this crisis.
What steps are we going to take to help families observe loss and hold services for their loved ones?
- Coordinate a phone interview with the clergy or celebrant;
- Invite family to submit music, eulogies, readings, and pictures;
- Work with the Funeral Provider to edit a meaningful tribute video.
Basic Funerals, in conjunction with Mike Perreault, and other trailblazing contributors value the importance of the quality and empathetic nature of our work. We hope to build the framework for the development of the virtual service options.
Love, compassion, empathy, and the skills required to express them are aided by physical proximity but are not wholly dependent on it. It falls to us as caregivers to find solutions and means to help people “come together”.
About the Authors:
Tania Tack is a Licensed Funeral Pre-Planner with Basic Funerals and Cremation Choices. Tania feels it is a genuine privilege to journey with families during their final planning. Working in funeral service has been enriching, humbling, and rewarding. She is proud to serve families with such a transparent provider that truly values integrity and exceptional service.
Reverend Mike Perrault has been an ordained minister with the United Church of Canada since 1999. Mike spends time with families and individuals in all the seasons of life whether they be times of celebration, anxiety, or grief. Mike employs a variety of methods to share love and compassion including music, thoughtful messages, and humour. Mike presides at Rothwell United Church in Ottawa’s east end and officiates several weddings and funerals each month. He is working to bridge the gap created by social distancing with streaming technology, the good-old-fashioned telephone, and hope.