COVID-19 and Saying a Final Farewell at Funerals

·2 min read

COVID-19 has definitely changed the way we live, how we interact with each other and how we ultimately say good-bye.

Social distancing has become a commonly recommended approach, so it is not recommended to utilize goodbye handshakes when greeting someone or ending a business arrangement; also, no it is recommended there are no hello or goodbye hugs for that close friend as you bump into them on the street.

But what about that final goodbye? What do we do during this pandemic when someone we have cared about has passed away?

Since Christmas, this reporter alone has been unable to attend 3 funerals for some pretty important people in his life; a birth mom, a close uncle in the adopted family and now a very special aunt on the in-law’s side who all will be dearly missed.

Normally, we all would have gone to the funerals of such close individuals to help the grieving process to be able to say that final goodbye, but our current situation has other recommendations.

With this pandemic, the government and health authority have given these strict guidelines for accommodating worship;

Guidelines for Accommodating Worship

Places of worship may resume services providing physical distancing of two metres can be maintained between each individual household.

Experiencing grief and loss during COVID

Whether it is the loss of a job or the loss of a loved one, grieving is especially challenging when we cannot physically gather with friends and family.

Try finding ways to continue doing the things that you normally do to cope with grief and loss safely while abiding by the current restrictions. If you are unable to cope or do the things you normally would, it is important to reach out and seek help if the feelings of grief and loss become too overwhelming. (Mental Health and COVID-19, Saskatchewan Government)

Alexandra Froese a Saskatoon psychologist, said that makes an already painful process more difficult.

“It is heartbreaking to see your family member out there, not being able to reach out and show care and love in your regular ways,” Froese told Global News. There’s no simple solution to that, really, right now. We’re trying to all be resilient and creative.”

Finding closure can be challenging without an in-person farewell, she said, but there are other ways to say goodbye.

She recommends sending a conversational video or letter.

“Just to show that you’re still with them [and] they’re not alone,” Froese said.

“You’re with them with your heart, with your mind and … extending your care in that way. It looks a little bit different, but it’s still caring.”

Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal