Contact Us

Connect to the information you need in order to make end-of-life choices.

How to Memorialize the Dead in the Time of COVID-19

Correct_GettyImages-1066482614 (2).jpg  

With social distancing regulations and other restrictions placed on public gatherings, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it challenging to mourn those who have died recently.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionprecautions should be taken when planning and holding funeral services and visitations to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This can include limiting the number of people who are invited to attend in-person funerals and memorials. Currently, in New Jersey, indoor gatherings for funeral services may not exceed 150 people or 25 percent of a funeral home or place of worship’s capacity.

For some, gathering in person may not be a viable option, for safety reasons or because you may choose to err on the side of caution. Working with your funeral director, you can create new ways to memorialize the passing of a family member or friend. While time-honored traditions and rituals may need to be modified, there are several ways for your community to come together to celebrate the life of the decedent.

Memorialize Virtually During the Pandemic 

The CDC has outlined the following alternate ways to connect, support each other and grieve:

  • Invite people to call you or host conference calls with family members and friends to stay connected.

  • Ask family and friends to share stories and pictures with you via phone, video chat, email, text message, photo sharing apps, social media or mailed letters.

  • Create a virtual memory book, blog or webpage to remember the decedent and ask family and friends to contribute their memories and stories.

  • Coordinate a date and time for family and friends to honor the decedent by reciting a selected poem, spiritual reading or prayer from within their own home. Some cultures practice a prolonged mourning period with multiple observances, so hosting virtual events now and in-person events later may be in keeping with these practices.

  • Seek spiritual support from faith-based organizations, including religious leaders and congregations, if applicable. People who are not part of a faith tradition or religious community can seek support from other trusted community leaders and friends.

  • Take part in an activity that has significance to you and the family member or friend you have lost, such as planting flowers or a tree or preparing a favorite meal in memory of the decedent.

Safely Gather In Person

If you decide to gather in person, consider changing or removing funeral practices to help lower the risk of spreading COVID-19.

Limiting the number of people who attend the funeral to immediate family and close friends is one way to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Consider gathering outdoors or in well-ventilated areas. Holding a graveside service in place of gathering indoors may also be an option.

Remember to socially distance yourself, wear a mask and consult your funeral director on the current restrictions they may have at the funeral home.  

The pandemic may change the way you are able to support each other during a loss, but it cannot stop mourners from memorializing deceased friends and family members. Work with your funeral director to create a safe and personalized funeral experience.

For more information, read the CDC’s Funeral Guidance for Individuals and Families.