Acknowledging the Current Reality – Implications for Families
By Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D., C.T.Center for Loss and Life Transition
As you consider how to approach funeral planning during this global pandemic, don’t forget:
1. Anything that delays a funeral delays the natural mourning and healing process.
2. You can’t push “pause” on grief. People will continue to feel their grief but will have fewer options to express it and be supported.
For many people, it can be disorienting to be separated from the body of a loved one who has died. We naturally benefit from spending time with the body and having a chance to pay respects and say hello on the path to goodbye. The forced need to separate loved ones and friends from each other at a time of death makes it much more difficult for individuals to experience the forward movement that funerals are intended to meet – reality, recall, support, expression and meaning.
As you know, meaningful funerals are “rites of initiation.” They help survivors start the process of taking their grief, the “internal response to loss,” and allowing it to become mourning, the “shared response to loss.” When people cannot participate in ceremony they often feel as if their mourning is “on hold.”
We live in a culture that is de-ritualizing around death. Many people, through no fault of their own, have never been taught why funerals are so important. So, some people who experience a death in their family at this time will find the coronavirus as good reason to take the path of least resistance – a direct disposition. Obviously, this makes your role in providing them a meaningful funeral even more challenging.