A Different Way to Say Goodbye: Virtual Funerals

By Sal Commisso / May 27, 2020 / News in the Area

Virtual Funerals Are Just One of Many Ways Our Lives Have Drastically Changed Since the Beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Amid the global pandemic that is COVID-19, there are some huge changes to everyday life that are affecting pretty much everyone in the United States.

Businesses have been forced to close and/or adhere to special social distancing guidelines, many states have mandated mask policies, and so much more.

There have also been significant changes that affect a smaller number of people, but still have had a much larger impact.

At the height of the pandemic, my family and I lost my grandfather.

I won’t go into too much detail, but he was 97-years-old and was asleep when he passed. Luckily, he was not in any pain and was able to go peacefully as his death was not COVID-19 related, but rather just old age.

What was unfortunate, was the timing.

Due to the current restricted climate and shut-down procedures, there aren’t many options when it comes to grieving and mourning your loved ones in a traditional sense with a wake, funeral, celebration of life, or any other variation of saying goodbye to the deceased.

My mother and her two siblings, along with the priest of our local church, were the only ones able to attend the service in person (since it was their father). The rest of the family, well, we got to watch along on Zoom.

It was very short and included a moment of silence, a pre-recorded eulogy by a family member, and a word from the priest. Due to it being all on video, it seemed very surreal and incomplete.

Other families going through similar losses have done whatever they could to get closure while also respecting friends and family. Some have postponed services for months. Others skip it all together. We decided a virtual funeral was the best option.

For many of us, we didn’t know the last time we saw our grandfather that it would be the last. I can only assume this is the case for many others around the globe as large gatherings are banned amid the pandemic.

The grieving process has been stopped dead in its tracks. Or at least made it incredibly difficult.

Wakes and funerals are very important in my (and most) families, as well as within our community, as they are in most.

A huge part of mourning is being around those loved ones, exchanging hugs and kisses — but that has all been taken away.

So, when this essential and normal part of the grieving process is removed, you begin to feel a little lost. In part because you feel that the deceased is not getting the proper send-off they deserve.

After experiencing this, it really brought to light one thing.

We are all extremely thankful for technology.

Without the simple everyday things like phones, texting, computers, and video chats we would not have been able to grieve my grandfather’s death together at all.

Although this type of connection isn’t preferred, something is better than nothing.