The COVID-19 pandemic has swept through society, disrupting pretty much every aspect of our lives - the way we work, learn, socialize and grieve the loss of our loved ones.

That last aspect—grieving—is one Ryan Crean, funeral director with Kearney Funeral Services, deals with on a continuing basis as he, and his staff, work closely with families to provide a fitting way to celebrate and commemorate a life.

To help with the process, Kearney Funeral Services has assembled a number of aspects to keep in mind when planning a memorial and funeral during pandemic times.

Don’t delay, do something right away

“We are seeing a lot of families putting off having funerals and memorial services,” Crean says. “And it’s important to realize that’s not a good thing to do.

“They need to do something at the time, then, perhaps, schedule a more formal service later because their grieving process won’t actually start until they have taken time to properly memorialize their loved one.”

Delaying a service can also make it increasingly complicated to later reach out to family and friends.

“Some dislike the idea of not being able to have all the people they’d like attend due to social gathering restrictions,” Crean explains. “So, they think of putting things off. And generally, when you do that, you run the risk of never having a service as it can become less of a priority.”

A memorial does not have to consist of a large funeral, rather it can be any ritual or process that will help families and loved ones grieve and find solace.  

Have a proper memorialization

While public health advisories have affected how people gather during the pandemic, the manner which memorials are staged has adapted.

“Naturally, we are seeing smaller gatherings now. And that has made us leverage technology, which has become more important as we want to safely include as many people as possible in a service through Internet-streamed, remote viewing,” Crean says.

Under current guidelines, no more than 50 people are permitted at a service. And all attending must be pre-registered. Plus, social distancing must be maintained.

Using a reputable firm that not only understands the guidelines, but also adheres to them closely is vital to ensure the health and safety of all guests and staff at each ceremony.

Involve the community

“One of the most important aspects of a memorial and funeral is reaching out to the community,” Crean says. “So, making the arrangements to ensure those people are included is important. And that’s where our live streaming service also comes in.

“We’ve offered it for quite a while, but it has become much more popular given the situation the pandemic has placed us in.”

Overall, Crean says we all need to understand that different than normal times will require us to undertake different ways of grieving.