From quarantine and schools being shut down to the struggling economy, the pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of our daily lives. Perhaps the most somber of all statistics is the fact that, as of this writing, more than 141,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the outbreak began in March.
Prior to the pandemic, nine out of 10 funeral services had loved ones who were unable to attend for a number of reasons such as distance, illness or other unavoidable circumstances. Now, with physical distancing measures being enforced in nearly every state, the majority of social events in our country have been either cancelled or postponed. This leaves loved ones not only mourning, but also dealing with a slew of complexities not typical of the burial and grieving process.
Whether it’s restrictions on the number of people that can attend the services, having to make the arrangements virtually, or simply not being able to receive hugs or other forms of affection from fellow attendees, COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the planning of funerals and the grieving process as a whole.
As the President and Co-founder of TribuCast®, a remote attendance system which allows people to virtually attend funeral services, the pandemic has reinforced a few fundamental things about the process of grief and how to properly memorialize those we love.
1. Funerals are necessary.
Although there are 2.6 million deaths in the U.S. each year, full-service funerals and attendance are on the decline due to factors such as frequent moves, job changes, and redefinition of the nuclear family. With the exception of those that live within a three-hour drive, it is increasingly difficult for people to attend funerals.
Regardless of their decline, funerals are still a vital part of the grieving process. Funerals are not for the dead. A staple in most cultures for centuries, they are held to help the living memorialize someone who has died. These services allow the loved ones of the deceased to say goodbye and face the reality of their loss. Experts say that the importance of funerals is invaluable as it relates to coping with the death.
For those who cannot attend these services, which has become the norm due to COVID-19, the effect can be devastating. Unresolved grief, which can take an excess of four years to manage, can take shape if an individual is unable to properly pay their respects.
To help support the loved ones of the deceased – both near and far – TribuCast® creates a private online environment that closely matches the in-person experience enabling all loved ones to grieve effectively. This personal website memorializing the deceased can include the service, program, family stories, photographs, a Guest Book for condolences, eulogies, and other items shared at the service. These websites also beautifully celebrate the deceased’s life and passions, allowing loved ones to stay connected to one another during the grieving process.
We recently had a former marine in the Midwest pass away, and because his son was on active duty stationed in the Middle East, he was unable to attend the service. The personalized TribuCast® page was able to honor both father and son’s U.S. Army and Marine Corp affiliations. How’s that for a tribute?
2. Support and love can be shown from afar.
During this pandemic, families planning memorial services for their loved ones have faced a dilemma – should the services be postponed knowing many people are unable to travel? The reality is, no matter when a service is held, there are people who can’t get there. Pushing it off a month or two won’t change that.
Technology has allowed family and friends to stay connected during the quarantine, and despite events being cancelled or postponed because of physical distancing, many events have been held virtually. Funerals have not been an exception. TribuCast® has been at the center of it all, allowing people to attend funerals no matter where they are in the world. Utilized by funeral homes around the country, distance is now no longer a reason that someone cannot attend a funeral. Because of this advanced live streaming system, families and friends around the world can properly memorialize their loved one, take part in services, and show their love and support for one another.
I was so moved by a son in his 50s holding a funeral for his father who had passed away from coronavirus. Because it was at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York City, the son was the only one present at the funeral home, however because the memorial was tribucast, friends and family were able to attend remotely and pay their respects.
They were unable to have an open casket, so the funeral director fashioned a covered glass casket so his loved ones could view him. A video to celebrate the father’s life played in the background, and people from around the world then started texting his son with special memories, stories, and their own tributes. The son proceeded to read these texts out loud after which more responses continued to come in via text. It became a virtual and interactive ceremony of remembrance, and in this moment loved ones were able to embrace the son in what could have been a profound moment of isolation.
The deep bond this father and son had was clear, and as evidenced by the response the son received from afar, so many loved ones were able to pay their respects for a life well lived.
3. Connections matter, especially once the funeral has passed.
Memorial services allow the living to start the grieving process. While everyone grieves differently, one thing is certain – the comfort and support from family and friends helps ease the pain of loss.
Those grieving the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19 or for another circumstance, must remember to stay connected with their trusted network after the funeral. Being around people who care will provide solace and peace even in the darkest of days.
At TribuCast®, we believe that in times of grief, we need one another. Our system allows families and friends mourning the loss of a loved one to connect both during the service, and even after the funeral has passed. If the family chooses to make it available, the service can be viewed again for up to 90 days, and can also be downloaded for free.
COVID-19 has brought the world to its knees, leaving tremendous loss for thousands of families. At TribuCast® we are committed to making the grief process a bit easier for those saying goodbye to loved ones no matter where they are. Grief is a lengthy and difficult process – it is our privilege and honor to stand beside those mourning, and make their dark days just a little bit brighter.