Maybe no one has dared to utter those words, at least in print or publicly, but there they are. Don’t you agree? Here in the U.S., we have certain customs we follow when someone dies. I’m sure they all, like Christmas traditions, have their origins and seem reasonable to most, but nowadays you have to wonder. Should the usual traditions and customs be followed during a pandemic?
Because they’re not. Many are not holding traditional funerals; many are holding memorial services, and many times the service is held weeks or even months after the death. Fewer people are attending funeral services these days, for fear of catching or spreading the coronavirus, and those who do attend wear masks.
My father-in-law recently passed away, and my mother-in-law honored his wishes by having him cremated, but she decided at the last minute to donate his body to science, in hopes that research into dementia like his could help someone in the future. An honorable and noble decision, in my opinion. She filled out the proper paperwork, the university picked up the remains, and ashes may be returned to her when the work at the university medical school is complete.
So there was no need for a casket, no need for viewing, no need for graveside service, no need for interment. Most of the immediate family attended the simple memorial service with a handful of friends and relatives, and there were two speakers and a couple of songs, and the service was over.
Family received the guests and then convened at my mother-in-law’s home where we visited for awhile and then left. It was odd. No food was brought to the house, no food was served after the service, and no flowers were delivered.
Still, I believe my father-in-law was honored, and my mother-in-law was provided closure after months and months of caregiving. This pared-down version of a funeral seemed to make more sense to me. Maybe the traditions of visitation, viewing the body in a casket, and going to the cemetery help to provide closure for many, but this simple memorial service was a good substitute.
Goodbye, Jerry. We love you. May you rest in peace with God.
Have you attended a funeral or memorial service during the pandemic? Please share your experience. I would love to hear about it.