COVID-19 does not respect the grieving process, but we should

OpEd by Shannon Martin
Posted 11/12/20

In my 24 years of serving families as a funeral director in Colorado, I have never experienced challenges when caring for people who have experienced a loss like those experiencing loss whilst facing …

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COVID-19 does not respect the grieving process, but we should

Posted

In my 24 years of serving families as a funeral director in Colorado, I have never experienced challenges when caring for people who have experienced a loss like those experiencing loss whilst facing a global pandemic. Unfortunately, while we work to keep our community safe and follow the necessary social distancing protocols, we lose the ability for families to and friends to come together to celebrate the life of their loved one. These restrictions, while necessary to help protect our communities, has put enormous strain on families during the darkest hours of their lives.

Funeral rituals, customs and time-honored traditions have always played a vital part in grieving, allowing us to pay our respects and say goodbye. Holding a service also provides an opportunity for the community to gather around family and friends to comfort and offer support during a difficult time. The transition to livestream services has helped some, allowing family and friends who cannot attend in person to participate virtually. Technology has played an enormous role in celebrations of life recently – but it will never replace a consoling hug.

Families from all over the country have opted to hold a memorial service at a later date, giving them time to plan a true celebration of remembrance, bringing together family and friends to appropriately honor the memory of their loved one. In my career serving families while they are grieving, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of holding some kind of memorial, whatever that might look like for you. A final farewell allows us to move forward in the grieving process, so it is an important part of beginning to heal.

But as time passes, I fear that these memorials will not occur as often as they should, which could ultimately lead to lifelong feelings of guilt and regret. Anyone who has lost someone they love in the past few months likely has an idea of how they would have liked to honor their memory if they had the opportunity to do so. Despite the delay in celebrating a life due to social distancing protocols, there are many ways to remember a loved one as restrictions are lifted.

This is why I implore all Coloradans who lost a loved one during this pandemic to keep a later date on your radar and plan the celebration of life your loved one deserves. Know that it is never too late to honor those we love, as it’s crucial we don’t lose sight of traditions that offer closure and comfort to the human spirit. To start the process, communicate your intentions to friends and family, and move forward with planning an event that will incorporate the unique details that best represent the person you are honoring.

With restrictions lifting, the weeks and months ahead offer new possibilities to plan the perfect memorial. While COVID has impacted many aspects of our lives, don’t let the pandemic change how you would have memorialized your loved one.

Shannon Martin is a manager at Olinger Crown Hill.

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