In communities across our state and country, death has continued to be a consistent presence, whether because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic or other causes. However, this unusual time in our lives has led to the absence of memorials or celebration of life services for some due to isolation, quarantine, or other restrictions. For those that did not have the opportunity for a funeral service on the passing of their loved one, finding ways to remember and honor the death of a loved one is important for healing.
After a death, we long for the comfort of time-honored ritual to support our sorrow, and we long to be with others who can support us in our mourning. It is a very human need to be supported in the difficulty of a loved one’s death. Just because a ceremony isn’t possible immediately, it doesn’t mean that our grief is on the sidelines waiting too.
Families located in this in-between place of mourning a new loss yet waiting for an opportunity to mourn together are still finding ways to connect and reflect on the stories of their loved one. Many are using technology to gather and find comfort together by sharing stories. Tools such as Zoom and Chime allow several people to be together on computers and phones in different places. Even at a distance and without the benefit of an in-person memorial service, we can still gather to recall the stories of our loved ones.
From these important stories also comes an opportunity to capture themes of your loved one’s life to help families plan their future memorial or celebration of life service. By considering central themes of your loved one’s life, you can find healing with your community and perhaps begin to visualize a future celebration of their life. To guide you in this process of telling their stories, here are a few questions to get the conversation flowing.
- What was your loved one known for? What are the common threads or themes in the stories people tell of them?
- How did your loved one influence the lives of those around them?
- What did your loved one enjoy doing in their free time? With whom did they love to spend their time?
- Where or how did your loved one contribute to the world? What was meaningful in their work, volunteer service, or help for others?
- What music, scripture, poetry, foods or celebrations were favorites to your loved one?
Sharing these stories with family will provide comfort. By recording this information and sharing it with your funeral director as well, it will give them the opportunity to help provide the perfect future memorial or celebration of life service to honor your loved one.
In this gap between a death and an end-of-life celebration, there is room for great creativity. Take the time to think about the person who died and ways that you might honor their life. You have time now to connect, reflect and cry with other who knew them. During this strange time we are all in, there are no right or wrong answers around losses and the ceremonies we create to honor that person. Funeral directors are ready and waiting to help you create a plan to honor your loved one’s life and tell their story.