COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we hold funeral and memorial services for our loved ones, and in turn, the ways we grieve. At American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory, we believe that funerals are all about honoring life and can be a necessary first step towards healing. However, in the unprecedented world of COVID-19 social distancing guidelines, you may need to adapt to a new way of honoring your loved one as you work with funeral directors and community or religious leaders. Nevertheless, let us reassure you that the care and respect we accord your deceased loved one remain our priority.

In the pre-COVID world, friends and family would fly in from afar to say their goodbyes. Before you make any decisions, you must consider whether the risk of transmission outweighs the need to follow a traditional funeral plan. Below are a few tips and suggestions on how to conduct a safe ceremony with your loved one at the center of it all. 

Making Funeral Arrangements

  • Consider having online meetings with funeral directors and religious leaders. If necessary, to meet in person, limit the number of people attending and wear a mask alongside practicing social distancing.
  • Bring up your concerns about traditional funeral practices that can increase the risk of COVID-19. Discuss ways these practices can be modified to reach a compromise between traditional and safety, such as having an online video streaming and guestbook.
  • Depending on circumstances, it can be wise to limit attendance to the funeral service to just immediate family members and friends. Plan additional memorial services for the future when the need to observe social distancing is less serious. 

Holding the Funeral Service

If you have decided not to limit the service to only immediate family from the same household, below are some precautions you can take to limit the spread of COVID-19.

  • Hold the ceremony in a large outdoor space to ensure better ventilation.
  •  Attendees from different households should not sit at the same table, and there should be a distance of six feet between tables. All attendees should wear masks.
  • Do not initiate physical contact such as hugging and holding hands with attendees not from your household. You can seek physical comfort from those in your own household.
  • Limit sharing of items such as prayer books.
  • Limit the number of participants in activities such as singing and chanting, as they introduce respiratory droplets into the air.
  • If food is served, consider having individual pre-packed boxes instead of a buffet. 

The Body of the Deceased

If your loved one passed away as a result of COVID-19, it is recommended to follow the below guidelines.

  • Avoid touching the deceased person’s body, especially if you or a family member are at high risk of catching COVID-19.
  • If really necessary, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching the body.
  • When removing personal possessions from the deceased person’s body, clean and disinfect your hands as well as the items immediately afterwards.
  • Those who are performing rituals that involve touching the deceased person’s body should have on gloves and protective equipment. If you are vulnerable or at higher risk of catching COVID-19, you should not be involved in these rituals.

In the midst of the pandemic, it may feel like it’s easier not to have a funeral service, or to take care of things as simply as possible. However, sometimes simply isn’t better. Here at American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory, we believe ceremony is all about honoring the life of your loved one – sharing memories, finding comfort, and starting the healing process. There are plenty of ways you can do so without putting your friends and family at risk of COVID – our services include online memorial websites as well as tribute videos, so all who are dear to your loved one can be a part of the service.

If you need help planning a suitable funeral service for a loved one, contact us through our online form today. We will walk you through the entire process to ensure the most stress-free experience, so you can focus entirely on your loved one.