Social distancing and restrictions are an unexpected new reality we have had to face individually and as a society in 2020.
It challenged what we thought of as ‘normal’ and forced us to recognise how connectivity plays a role in our wellbeing where, previously, many of those actions and daily rituals were sitting within our subconscious.
For those dealing with grief from the loss of a loved one, COVID-19 created an added layer of loss – the ability to be close and seek comfort in those around us in traditional ways. For this reason, we were asked to think of new ways to bridge the uncertainty, create connection and learn to adjust.
Philip Christian – Kings Funerals Celebrant, believes that social distancing doesn’t necessarily mean loss of connection;
“Our purpose under the pressure of change is to support and empower family and friends to fully remember those who we have lost, to grieve together, and find comfort in ritual and meaningful acknowledgment in different but important ways. We don’t need to lose our human side, our gifts of emotion and creativity, and the power of personalities, unique and special. It’s about caring and being present.”
Despite the COVID-19 regulations and an emotionally challenging time, Kings Arrangers and families have sought creative ways to pay tribute and create connection whilst adhering to strict safety and COVID-19 guidelines;
‘Chairs were changed into a horseshoe shape for the service to create a sense of togetherness. ‘Nanna Joy Roberts’ had been a hand-knitter of socks all her life, right up to her 100th year. To acknowledge their personal Nanna Joy sock collections, all the guests wore a pair of these colourful socks to the service. For a bit of fun at the beginning of the service, they all took their shoes off for a sock display. It was a light-hearted and touching tribute to their Nana Joy, and an intimately shared moment’
‘Friends, family and the community created a massive tribute on the sand at Ocean Grove. A huge drive-by was mapped out where friends and the community lined the streets in their driveways to pay tribute and in a show of support to the family.’
‘A cousin requested to organise a presentation of balloons attached to names and photographs of those who couldn’t be present, as a reminder of their support. It was such a lovely gesture as they have a large extended family.’
“When the COVID-19 restrictions began, initially families were worried that they wouldn’t be able to grieve and have family and community connection to help them mourn. But the evidence and feedback suggest that this in fact wasn’t the case.” Says Briohny Fitzgerald, Kings Funerals Operations Manager.
“Lowered numbers at services resulted in more intimate, meaningful occasions, with only close family involved. People were more confident with their eulogies; happy to speak in front of a small gathering rather than a large crowd. There was increased engagement with each other during the service, with more people speaking and interacting. Digital webcasting allowed those who wouldn’t usually be able to attend to take part and even read eulogies. Overall, many families have found it less stressful to organise and were able to mourn with a fulfilling and meaningful service.”
Briohny explains that the most important thing is ensuring upfront and honest conversations on the possibilities. “We don’t want to say ‘no’, it’s about offering alternatives and helping adjust our mindset to be creative in delivering a service that maintains all the valuable elements that make a meaningful funeral.”
We at Kings are here to help – and so are many professional and caring organisations like the ones listed here. We encourage you to see what services they have to offer and to call on them for assistance when needed.
For information and helpful guides regarding funeral services in relation COVID-19, learn more here.