Burying a loved one is hard enough and now we cannot celebrate their life with family and friends? I remember the day that my son, Ben, passed away. We had to make some really difficult decisions very quickly over a period of three days. In and around the complete devastation of losing him. “You want me to pick out a casket for my son?” I remember walking into that room full of caskets. It was overwhelming and another dose of reality that I wasn’t ready to face. To have to think about which casket suited Ben was so hard. I was in shock and still begging God to wake me up from this terrible nightmare.
I can’t imagine what people are feeling right now when they lose a loved one. Well, actually I can in many ways but the part about not being able to honor them must be really hard to process. Most funeral homes are only allowing immediate family to gather. We’ve been asked to put a very important part of our burial process on hold. When I think of the comfort the visitation provided to me and my family, it breaks my heart to know that people are being deprived of this. We had hundreds of people come and pay their respects. I heard so many new stories about Ben that day and was reminded of some old ones, too. The love and support helped carry us through the tough days that followed. I saw people I hadn’t seen in years and that made a difference. They showed up and that mattered.
How strange it must be to make the burial arrangements and gather with only family to say so long. There are so many people beyond the immediate family that need closure. They want to come and be with the people suffering the loss. We always tell people that if you have spoken to your friend or family member in the last week or so, you should drop what you are doing and run to them if you hear they have suffered a loss. Now, the best you can do is a phone call and dropping off food. Or some yard work for them with proper distancing. Friends of mine came in and took over my kitchen, making sure food was being properly stored and I was eating and drinking water every few hours. They did laundry and cleaned our home. They mowed our grass and grabbed our mail, checking to see if bills needed to be paid. They fed our animals and tucked me in for frequent naps. The grief was exhausting and all I wanted to do was sleep and awaken to a different reality. One with Ben still thriving at almost 20 years old. Nobody can go into your house now and do for others like people did for us. Something so needed and appreciated.
I suppose there will be many life celebration picnics when the pandemic finally recedes and we are permitted to gather again. There is so much speculation on when this might be and then more talk of a resurgence of the virus and us being told to stay healthy at home again. Ugh!!!
In the meantime, here are a few things you can do now to honor your loved one during COVID-19:
- Plant a tree. You can place your order online and in addition, add a small plaque to mark the tree.
- Create a video of photos and messages from friends and family members and post it on social media sites.
- Create a virtual memorial butterfly garden and share it with friends and family members to post a tribute. As the butterflies fly around, you can click on each one and read the message.
- Create some silicon bracelets to honor your loved one during COVID-19. You can send these out to people with a note asking them to consider wearing them in honor of your loved one during COVID-19.
- Create a memory capsule. You can place items inside that belonged to your loved one and put it in a place you can access later, maybe 10 years following the loss. We suggest placing it somewhere in your home, attic, or garage as not all containers will keep your items from getting water in them and destroying the contents.
- Create an online book of photos and memories. Maybe you are a scrapbooker and you already have these precious memories? In case you aren’t, you can go to a website like Shutterfly.com and upload photos and create memory blocks of text to intersperse throughout. You may decide to order a few of these precious books to send to friends and family members.
If you or someone you care about has suffered a loss and need help, please give them our phone number: (502) 791-9938 or point them to the Contact form on our website. We can still help by talking with them via phone or Zoom. And we are still hosting a grief support group each week, also via technology. They may be isolated but they don’t have to suffer alone.