While the country is experiencing lockdown, one of the issues facing people and causing great distress is the restrictions being placed on attendance at funerals and there is even talk of them being banned in the near future.
So how will people be able to say goodbye to their loved ones in a way that seems appropriate and meaningful?
Perhaps we should take a look at what makes us human? It isn’t the body we occupy, it is what is inside us – our personality, the way we make people laugh, the work we do, the little quirky habits that set us apart from everyone else. When we receive a lovely gift, it is the thoughtfulness of the gift and the giver, and not the wrapping that we are grateful for.
Traditionally funerals take place with the body in attendance in a coffin with all the deceased’s nearest and dearest attending to pay their respects. Having a funeral with just a handful of people may feel like the person is not being given the send-off they deserve even if it is streamed on the internet.
So what alternative is there to a traditional funeral at this time?
I’ve had a good think about this and this is my suggestion:
The day of the cremation / burial
Make this a day to remember your loved one. You might not be able to go to the cemetery or crematorium but instead, make a conscious decision to dedicate the day to the person you are saying goodbye to.
Write down all the memories you have of them and ask family and friends to send you their stories and memories by email throughout the day. This will allow you to honour them privately while knowing that they are in the minds of those they loved. Reading these memories and stories as they come in will show you just what legacy they have left. Make an album of all the wonderful things you are sent to look at in the future.
Take some time to go outside and look at the sky. Take in the sounds, breathe in the fresh air and consider the enormity of what we are all a part of. Imagine your loved one being all around you.
Light a candle. Sit quietly with it and spend some time just being thankful for having had the chance to know and love the person. You can relight the candle any time you feel sad or lonely as a symbol of love.
A service of love and remembrance
There will come a time when we are able to move freely and enjoy gatherings again. Planning a service or memorial event for your loved one will allow you to celebrate their life with everyone who cared about them. The event can be exactly as you and they would like it to be. It can be a joyful celebration, a religious service or simply a party with them at the core.
As the event won’t be taking place within the confines of a crematorium or church you are not restricted by time or convention.
You might like to tie this in with a special occasion – their birthday or an anniversary perhaps? You might like a non-religious ceremony or perhaps just friends and family sharing stories. There really are no rules!
“No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence.”