Things you could do if you can’t hold or attend a funeral right now

One of the painful things about experiencing a bereavement right now is that you cannot get together with other people and mourn your loss or honour someone’s life and death in the way you might usually expect to do. Lockdown funerals are still taking place but with none of the usual gathering together, participating in the rituals and traditions we associate with death. Many people are finding they feel robbed of the opportunity to say goodbye. It’s an additional loss on top of what you’ve already suffered, and there are so many layers to that loss.

People do their best to attend the funerals and memorials that are held, livestreaming or listening down the phone making that possible. Technology is something you might feel for grateful in such difficult circumstances. But collectively, much of our grief is being put on hold, and when this crisis has passed, it’s likely that those suppressed emotions will rise to the surface and many people may find they need additional support coming to terms with what has happened.

Some of the people I speak to at the moment talk of holding a wake later on, once we can all get together again. That feels like something really valuable you could do. What form that might take would be up to you. It doesn’t even need to be expensive, it could take the form of getting together somewhere that has meaning to you and other people still grieving the loss of your loved one – a special place like a beach or a park that they loved.

In the meantime, here are a few other ways you could try to mark the death of your loved one and honour your connection to them while you are in lockdown:

  • write to them: you could use a journal or a piece of paper and a pen. Pour out all the things you might have said at a funeral  if you’d had the chance or write about the funeral you would have held. Or write about all the things that you learnt from them, all the funny or wise or infuriating things they’ve said that will be with you forever, in your heart
  • create a memorial in your garden or in a pot on your balcony/ kitchen windowsill: plant something for them, a tree, a shrub, a flower. It doesn’t matter what it is, but perhaps there is something meaningful to you? Watch it grow and think of them
  • go through your digital library and make a photobook that reminds you of them: if you have photos of them, that’s great, put them in but if you don’t have any, don’t worry, go through all the pictures you have of art and nature and create a book full of photos of things they would have loved
  • reconnect with others: who else do you know who is grieving for that loved one and might not have any support right now? Get in touch with them and ask them how they are doing, let them know that you’re thinking of them too
  • connect to nature: go out for a walk in the closest place you can that connects in some way to them, whether that is a place they visited or somewhere quiet where you can just think of them
  • hold out hope for the future: let yourself plan that get together you’re to hold in the future, reach out to other people who are also grieving and invite them to help you plan it. Maybe you can’t pin down a date just yet, but you can decide how you’d like it to be.

These are just some thoughts to get you started. What else might you do that feels right to you?


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