If someone you know has died from complications due to COVID-19, these resources may be helpful.
More than 238,000 people around the world have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the death toll is growing as the full effects of the coronavirus play out in hospitals and communities. The nature of social distancing means patients are denied visitors in their final hours and families can’t congregate in person at funerals and homes to bury their dead and mourn.
Enforced distance during a time of traditional togetherness can deny people the physical comfort of a hug, a shoulder to cry on and a sense of finality that’s part of the grieving process when someone close has died.
Online resources and tools are no replacement for a gathering of loved ones and friends, but they can help families organize online memorials, memory books and donations made in your loved one’s memory. We present some resources to help plan a remote funeral or memorial and otherwise honor those who have died as a result of COVID-19.
Remember that performing a physical act can sometimes help you regain some agency during a situation you can’t otherwise control. Here are additional tips to help manage anxiety during the pandemic.
Have a Zoom, Skype or YouTube funeral or memorial service now
The coronavirus restrictions prevent us from holding a funeral in person to honor the memory of those who we’ve lost. If you’re affiliated with a religious institution, reach out to see what kind of support your organization can supply in the short term — for example, literature on grief, individual video chats with you and your family members or online prayer meetings.
Your family and friends can also hold a memorial service using Zoom (change these settings to prevent unwanted guests) or another video chat service like Skype broadcast, Google Meet or even a private YouTube channel. Sharing a eulogy or other prepared tribute, readings, poems and personal stories — even discussing the hardship of being alone — can provide a chance to mourn together in a virtual community.
You can also record the memorial service to play later or to share with others who couldn’t attend online.
Set up a vigil your community can see from the street
To honor the memory of the family member who has died, you might light large candles on your porch or windowsill and allow others to drive past and honk to offer support. Set up a large box on your driveway for those in your neighborhood to drop off letters, flowers or other items they may want to share as a sign of their support and grief — at a distance from others.
As you collect items, make sure to handle them cautiously, and wash your hands after touching them. If you yourself are in a high-risk group, ask for deliveries, physical mail and email instead. These gestures could mean a great deal to others who never got to say goodbye and who want to support you.
Ask your religious institution for advice
Although most churches, mosques, synagogues and other places of worship are closed to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, they can still be used as a way to help you grieve. If you’re affiliated with a religious institution, reach out to see how they can provide relief during this time.
One church is live-streaming funerals and services for its congregants. A synagogue is also holding virtual prayer using Google Hangouts. One mosque is live-streaming the sermon and prayer, while another outside the United States is broadcasting the prayer over a speaker.
Ask your institution how they’re helping those in need. See if you can speak with the religious leader, like a priest, imam or rabbi when you need someone to pray or grieve with during this time.
Plant something in your garden or in a pot
The act of planting a flower, ornamental bush or even a fruit-bearing tree in the yard could provide comfort as a symbol of life, of hope or even simply as a way you’ve chosen to honor the deceased.
Reach out to online support groups
Live and Work Well, a website for well-being and behavioral health, suggests looking into online support groups for grief and loss. You can find others in your area that are grieving through websites such as Grief Support. At this time, the groups are meeting online.
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