tips to help guests feel safe at funerals during covid

5 Tips for Making Loved Ones Feel Comfortable at Funerals during Covid

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There are a lot of things to think about when planning a funeral or celebration of life during COVID-19. At Arbor Memorial, our goal is to provide families with comfort, care and compassion during a difficult time – and we are committed to serving families and offer the best experience possible considering the restrictions that may be in place. Arbor’s funeral professionals will help guide you based on the latest public health guidelines. One consideration that can't be neglected is that many attendees may have a certain level of anxiety about gathering in groups, regardless of how compliant a funeral service is with regulations set out by Health Canada. Take these concerns seriously, and ease their fears with the following tips as seen below. 

Before we get started, it’s important to note that Arbor Memorial funeral homes adhere to the most up-to-date direction from local public health agencies, Health Canada and our provincial and national associations. We have put new and increased measures into place at our locations across Canada, to ensure your safety is our top priority.  

  1.  Clearly communicate safety measures–but don’t make them all your attendees think about 

 While your friends and family certainly need to know that their safety is being taken seriously, they are gathering to honour and celebrate a special life, which should be the main focus. Protecting our employees, families and visitors is our top priority.  

Should attendees feel nervous about gathering, we suggest outlining basic safety measures in your funeral service communications and then giving attendees the option to learn more via Arbor’s website or by speaking with one of our funeral home representatives. 

       2. On-site reminders about safety measures 

The communication about safety doesn’t stop when attendees arrive on site. Arbor’s funeral homes have clear signage that outlines safety measures, as well as additional signage indicating traffic patterns, mask reminders or social distancing requirements as needed.  

We are asking guests to avoid entering our facilities if they have returned to Canada within the last 14 days, or if they are displaying symptoms such as a fever, dry cough, shortness of breath or sore throat. In addition, we are encouraging our guests to limit personal contact such as hugging and handshakes. 

We are wearing masks when meeting with our families and during funeral services, and we are asking every guest to sanitize their hands upon entry with anti-bacterial hand wash. Funeral homes have multiple hand sanitization stations, and typically have large reception spaces to ensure everyone can remain socially distant. Guests must sign in for contact tracing purposes. Furthermore, we are constantly cleaning and disinfecting common areas within our facilities.  

  1. Food and beverage creativity 

We know that food is often used as a way to connect with each other, express our sympathy, and help families through the most difficult time of their life. During the pandemic, eating and drinking at funeral services and memorials was prohibited for safety reasons. Now, food and beverage service are permitted as long as local public health units permit. Our team members are highly trained in sanitization and food-handling measures, and our standard of cleanliness is unparalleled.  

Some locations have been enhancing our menu and offering boxed lunches. Families have been embracing this option that allows for safe distancing at our services. We encourage you to speak with your funeral director about the many options available to you.  

  1. Feel connected with technology 

Arbor Memorial is an industry leader when it comes to offering innovative solutions for families, and we pride ourselves on providing families with options for ceremonies that allow them to say goodbye to their loved one in a meaningful way. The pandemic has made digital options and services for funerals more common, and despite lifted restrictions, families continue to make use of these innovations.  

One feature amongst funeral services that has become popular in the last year has been livestreaming the funeral service. We have seen families embrace our livestreaming service option in every province across Canada, and this helps families feel connected when it isn’t possible to come together in person. The popularity of this option has continued past the heights of COVID-19 and has been identified as a great option for those who aren’t able to attend in-person. We believe that this trend is here to stay beyond the pandemic and will continue to be a great resource for families. We encourage you to speak with your funeral director about what livestreaming options may be available to you.  

Even with restrictions loosening across Canada, technology in funeral services is a trend that will continue post-pandemic. Our Glen Oaks Funeral Home in Oakville, Ontario has been piloting the telepresence robot, and it has been seen as a viable option for families who want to accommodate loved ones that cannot physically be at the funeral, even with lifted restrictions. The robot allows funeral attendees to deliver remarks or a eulogy and navigate the space without physically being there. This has been a popular option even with larger gatherings allowed at a service, and it will be a permanent option post-pandemic.  

  1. Host a second or delayed funeral service when more loved ones can join, and everyone feels safe to gather 

Despite these digital accelerations in the world of funeral services, we know that many families still want to gather in-person and see the value of a traditional service, allowing them to hug, shake hands and offer condolences face-to-face. We are happy to accommodate many different types of situations, but we are also looking forward to the future when families can hug and shake hands comfortably – and we know many families are too.  

We have seen a number of families reaching out to plan a second second funeral service or celebration of life, or a delayed interment, followed by a memorial service.  

We’re also finding that some families who did not have their initial funeral service at our homes have been reaching out to us to accommodate their needs for a larger and more memorable funeral service.  

Celebrations of life and funerals services are highly personal events, and many families have a plan in place, including details like having food and beverages, speeches from multiple people, live music, and other personal touches.  

By planning a memorial service at a time that’s convenient and at a time where your group is most comfortable, our client families have an opportunity to bring those plans to life and gather to remember and reflect.  

Was Your Loved One’s Funeral Service Interrupted Because of the Pandemic? 

As funeral directors, we see first-hand the role that funeral and memorial services play in the grieving process. We feel strongly that funeral services, memorials and celebrations of life are important, as friends and families of the deceased to gather, grieve and remember together. 

Families and friends may seek a comforting hug or handshake, and look to connect with those who are experiencing the same loss. Ultimately, grief shared is grief diminished, and often these moments of closure take place at a funeral or memorial service.  

For many Canadians, the pandemic interrupted the grieving process, as COVID-19 may have limited plans for funeral and memorial services, leading to lingering feelings of guilt, regret and sadness. Arbor Memorial has heard from families wanting to hold a funeral or memorial service for those lost during the pandemic. We encourage those who were not able to say a proper goodbye to consider planning for one now. 

If you are interested in learning more about the many options to pay tribute to your loved one, please visit our location finder for the branch nearest you.   

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11/10/2021

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