Grieving in a Time of Social Distancing: 5 Healthy Steps Forward

Funeral services can be a definitive moment to say goodbye, to share stories, and find relief. But grieving in a time of social distancing brings its own unprecedented challenges. Under the current restrictions, we’re faced with social distancing, isolation, and shifting expectations. Although it may feel discouraging, it is possible to discover creative ways to remain connected and move forward.

As a third-generation funeral director, Chris Tharp recalls something his father used to say all the time, “Grief shared is grief diminished”. Tharp explained that in every culture, throughout all of history, we find rituals for mourning and burial. During these rituals, we help family and neighbors tote that burden of grief.

The truth is we can postpone some plans – but there’s no such thing as postponing grief. There’s no magic button to press for fast forward, rewind, or pause. We cannot put it off and expect to have a healthy grief cycle.

For now, it’s still important to come together as a family. Private services, virtual services, and closed-circuit connections are some of the ways to begin a healthy grief cycle.

5 Steps to Begin Grieving Now

Grief rituals can take many different forms and can be both personal and spiritual in nature. Tharp Funeral Home is taking precautions to ensure that we can still grieve in healthy ways, without having to postpone all services. Here’s a list of 5 steps forward:

1. Have a small ceremony now, and a larger service later.

In order to begin grieving right away, many families are planning small gatherings immediately but waiting on larger ceremonies later. You may want to consider planning a modified ceremony now and additional service or gathering to commemorate your loved one in a more public, community-centered way.

2. Make arrangements remotely.

Arrangements can be made entirely from the comfort and safety of your home. You can speak one-on-one or set up a conference call or virtual meeting for multiple members of the family. Documents can be shared electronically, as well.

3. Live streaming and recorded services.

By leveraging technology, there are creative ways to connect your family to these services. You can choose to live stream and/or record the event and a link to the recording can then be hosted on our obituary page and sent to your family via email.

4. Sharing stories virtually.

Reminiscing about the life and legacy of our loved ones is such an integral part of the grieving process. If it’s not possible to come together physically, these stories can be written and collected, then read by one family member during a funeral service. Families can also come together virtually and take turns sharing their memories over video conferencing.

5. Holding a wake while maintaining social distance.

At this time, the number of guests in attendance at a wake is restricted. However, many funeral homes have additional staff on-site to direct guests to separate areas of their facilities so that a memorial can continue to be held while maintaining social distancing. Through closed-circuit systems, guests can even remain connected in a safe manner.

We have made a list of seven therapeutic rituals that can help you take control of your grief. Get our list of grief rituals here.

The truth is – no matter how you choose to do it, finding a unique way to pay tribute to your loved one brings resolution and comfort for all of their family and friends. Choose something that they would have loved and you will be well on your way to a fitting celebration of life event. Learn more about a Celebration of Life ritual.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We’re here for you: (434) 237-9424.

State Guide to Cremation