Covid-19 Funerals: guidance for individuals and families

Funeral rituals have taken a new direction in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Group guidelines and physical interaction are two elements that are most affected by social distancing.

Many families are asking what their options are for either planning or attending funerals with all of these changes. People are asking questions like: What are the specific guidelines you will be asked to follow? What are the potential risks? How are you supposed to act while around others? And most importantly, how can you participate in the grieving process even with the regulations in place?

Here are some answers to some of your most important questions about funeral services. We hope that it will be helpful to you during this time.

Am I at risk if I go to a funeral for someone who died of COVID-19?

As far as we know from the information provided by the CDC, you are not at risk of catching COVID-19 from a deceased body that tested positive for the disease. At Tharp Funeral Home, we recommend that you follow social distancing recommendations, like keeping 6 feet of separation and wearing a mask at funeral gatherings just like you would at any other gathering.

Is there special funeral handling for people who died from Coronavirus?

Yes, funeral homes are under specific guidance from the CDC about how to handle individuals that are a known or suspected COVID-19 case. Medical examiners, morticians and embalmers have specific PPE recommendations that they follow as well based on these guidelines.

Can someone who died from Coronavirus be buried?

Yes, anyone who has died from Coronavirus can be either buried or cremated, depending on the family’s wishes.

What are my funeral options during COVID-19?

Immediate family members still have all the same service rights and options for celebrating their loved one’s lives as they did pre-pandemic, although there may be some adjustments to the size and density of public gatherings.

My loved one preplanned their services before they died. Do I have to change their wishes?

No, you do not have to change the wishes of a loved one during this time. We encourage you to discuss all options with your funeral director.

What does a safe funeral service look like?

At Tharp Funeral Home, we want to offer a safe and caring environment for grieving families. We recommend that you discuss the size and format of your funeral so that social distancing practices are taken into consideration. In some cases, funeral rites and rituals may need modification.

What is a Zoom funeral?

A Zoom funeral is a service that is streamed live over the internet so that friends and family can watch from the safety of their own homes. Zoom is only one method of streaming live services. At Tharp Funeral Home, we offer live-streamed services over a variety of platforms and methods.

Do I have to wear a face mask?

Guests are asked to wear a mask in accordance with the Commonwealth of Virginia’s department of health’s recommendation. However, the final decision on this is up to the individual. For more information about Executive Order 65, please visit the Virginia Governor’s website.

Can I give hugs or shake hands after the service?

At this time, we ask that you refrain from physical condolences such as hugs or handshakes. We ask that you practice social distancing and wave or nod as a way to share comfort with one another.

Can my children attend any of the services?

Yes, children are welcome to the funeral home for services and visitations. Children are counted in gatherings just as adults are. As a parent, you might want to talk to your children about hugging and distance protocols as you see fit.

How many people can be in attendance?

Per Virginia’s recommendations, churches and funeral homes may operate at 50% capacity, and gatherings are limited to 50 people or less.

How am I supposed to act at a funeral with Coronavirus regulations?

Grief is grief, and no two people grieve the same way. There are many different ways that you can cope with grief even at a service with regulations. Take part in something that has meaning to you that is in memory of the loved one that you have lost.

If the service is virtual, you can share stories and photos through video chats, email messages, or even mailed letters. You can have virtual meetings with your faith-based leaders and/or counselor, see grief counseling services, and attend support groups.

How is the grieving process affected by the COVID-19 regulations?

The biggest challenge for families is that grief does not wait for the coronavirus lockdown to be lifted. Families continue to experience their loss in the same manner. At Tharp Funeral Home, we work hard to give healthy options for processing grief despite the changes in public services.

Funeral Services that Heal

At Tharp Funeral Home and Crematory, we are committed to helping families like yours to have the services that your loved one deserved. We want you to be able to participate in sharing, celebrating, and supporting each other. For more information on how we can help, please call 434-237-9424.

For more information on grieving in a time of social distancing, read this article on 5 healthy steps forward.

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