Advice from Our Firm: Hosting a Funeral Amid the Coronavirus
In a matter of weeks, the novel coronavirus named “COVID-19” has changed nearly all facets of our daily lives. While many things have stopped or closed during this uncertain time, unfortunately, we know that deaths will unquestionably continue to occur. Whether death by disease, accident, or COVID-19 itself, our current pandemic environment creates unique issues when it comes to funeral planning.
To anyone who finds themselves dealing with the loss of a loved one during this tumultuous time, we are sorry. We at Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs hope that this article will assist you in some way in dealing with the unprecedented issues that you may face while putting your loved one to rest during this pandemic.
Selecting a Funeral Home
Typically, the first step in the funeral planning process is to select a funeral home. Once you identify your preferred funeral home, they quickly will inquire as to who is the person who has the legal right to control the final disposition of the deceased. Oftentimes, this is the closest next-of-kin. However, the funeral director or an attorney can assist you in the event that there are numerous people with the same degree of priority or if there is a self-authorization or a will that speaks to this issue.
Next, the funeral home will schedule an arrangement conference. This essentially is a discussion of all aspects of the funeral from casket selection to floral arrangements. In light of the current conditions, many funeral homes are conducting “virtual” arrangement conferences done via web video streaming. During this conference, the funeral director will outline the various service options available for your loved one. This process is very difficult under even the best of circumstances. Now, it likely will seem even more overwhelming in light of the stress of the pandemic as well as the various federal, state, and local restrictions currently in play.
How to Hold the Service in Light of Social Gathering Restrictions
While state and local guidelines will differ, there are some universal issues that will impact funeral planning for everyone. The primary issues impacting funerals are the limitations imposed on travel and the number of people allowed to gather. It is likely that funerals occurring in the next several weeks, will be attended by immediate family only (most of the time ten or fewer) and primarily attended only by nearby kin due to domestic travel restrictions.
However, there are still different options to consider:
- One option is to move forward with the funeral, under the above-mentioned limitations, and then plan a memorial for the loved one on a later date. This will allow others to join in-person to honor and celebrate the loved one’s life.
- Some have also chosen to record the service so that it can be shared with others afterwards.
- Another option is to hold a virtual webcast/livestream service where family and friends can virtually attend the service. Using technology in this fashion, allows for all family and friends to partake in the service and allows for gospel, songs and eulogies to be shared remotely.
Whatever you decide, know that there is no one answer for every situation and that you should make whatever choice you believe will best honor and celebrate your loved one in these unprecedented times. The only cure for grief is to grieve, but we hope that these thoughts will help you deal with the unusual issues you may encounter during this extremely difficult time.