Of all the things that we may have taken for granted in our lives, funerals are one of the services and traditions that have changed the most in the last few months. For some, coronavirus has meant a simple funeral with no additional services and merely a handful of people in attendance, whereas others have sadly had to be buried with no one in attendance whatsoever.
Whatever the sacrifices we have had to make in order to give our loved ones some kind of farewell during this pandemic, it is not out of the question that funerals may look very different in the months and even years following the coronavirus pandemic.
Direct funerals on the rise
One of the saddest and anti-human aspects of this pandemic has been our inability to share in pain and loss together. Where many have been separated in life, those who have been taken from us during this pandemic are also separated in death, with funeral attendance limited to as few as five people. With social distancing and a ban on group gatherings including funerals a painful necessity to save further lives, direct funerals have seen a significant spike in the last few months.
Of course, these types of funerals have been slowly growing in popularity already in recent years as an attractive alternative for families wishing to save money or simply those that are uninterested in a large funeral service for personal reasons. For others, these have become a last resort. In fact, some directors are reporting a 50% increase in direct cremation queries and quotes in the last two months.
But even after the effects of coronavirus have passed and lockdown becomes a distant memory, experts believe that unattended funerals may become far more popular in years to come. After all, the financial effects of coronavirus will be felt for a long time to come for many families around the country and funerals can take a huge financial toll. Opting for direct and unattended funerals can really help with keeping those costs down, while still being able to offer your loved one some sort of send-off.
Delayed coronavirus memorials
Of course, one of the biggest concerns people often have with unattended funerals is the inability to gather with a large group of people in celebration of someone’s life. For many, it can feel like a very experience and a melancholy way for their loved ones to leave this earth.
However, if there is one positive that has sparked in the midst of coronavirus funeral planning, it’s the importance of keeping those we love in our memory. And what better way to remember someone we love than providing them with a memorial? Many families who have not been able to plan the funerals they wanted have instead opted for delayed memorial services in months to come or perhaps into next year.
With the potential increase of direct cremations in the future, it is also likely that memorials or memorial services will become a much more popular form of remembrance and celebration. In a way, a memorial offers families the closure and catharsis of a lavish funeral service, but can be saved for over a longer period of time without causing as much financial strain.
Direct cremations followed memorials later down the line may also help diffuse tensions between family members. After all, arguments during the funeral planning process are almost to be expected with the limited amount of time families sometimes have to plan a funeral. Whereas taking the opportunity to discuss and reflect over a longer period of time may be a more beneficial and unifying experience.
Including technology in a funeral service
There’s no denying it, technology has been an invaluable tool during lockdown and funerals have certainly benefited from us having to all brush up on our Zoom knowledge. Now more than ever, funerals are taking place virtually, with venues offering live streaming and recording to those who have been restricted from attending their loved one’s funeral. Live streaming funerals is nothing new of course, but most of us may be more used to seeing the funerals of world leaders or famous celebrities streamed worldwide rather than an intimate service for someone that you knew and loved.
Of course, it’s impossible to predict whether or not this trend will continue once people are permitted to gather freely again and hold traditional-looking funeral services. But it is at least likely that venues will be more equipped to deal with more modern technology where before they may have used it sporadically, if at all.
The world is a much more international place these days, with families and friends separated over borders and oceans and as sad as it is, it is not always possible for family to make it back for someone’s funeral, even without coronavirus. Introducing more technology into the funeral planning process may soften the blow for and ease the guilt for people in the future should they not be able to travel for a funeral.
Coronavirus increasing our awareness of death
One of the ways in which all of us have been challenged by this pandemic is through the way in which it has forced us to come to terms with our own mortality. It is an uncomfortable topic that, especially in this part of the world, we are notoriously bad at talking about or accepting. But if coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that you never know what’s around the corner and no one can be certain of life, whether they are young or old, sick or healthy.
In the midst of this pandemic, doctors and healthcare professionals have even urged people to take the necessary steps to prepare for issues such as end of life care and making decisions for yourself as to what your final wishes should be.
And with so many arguments during the funeral planning process relating to unknown or unclear wishes from those who have passed, these uncertain times remind us now more than ever of how important it is to not only have open and frank conversations about death, but also take practical steps to prepare for it too.
We are a family-led business offering funeral services in Essex since 1958.