Just yesterday I saw something I’ve never seen before at a funeral for a young mom and her daughter, killed together in a car accident. Over a thousand people wanted to attend their service but the health precautions kept all but immediate family from attending the actual service. Hundreds of people gathered in pockets to webcast the service and line the streets of the procession. But they also did the most beautiful thing.
The pastor was deeply upset that the church would effectively be empty despite the tragedy and outpouring of love from the community. So, an idea came forward – “what if we fill the empty seats with yellow flowers?” Yellow was Rosa’s signature color. And so, each family that could not be present in the pews sent bouquets of yellow flowers to shine love in their place. The empty places were filled and a family was dearly loved in a visible and tangible way.
Something this time of quarantine is teaching me is that we have instinctual urges to gather when in crisis. The idea of quarantine is hard and foreign because it goes against our human nature. When stress and anxiety hit we want to be together. It seems in this pandemic, the way we are “together” is by being united in our safety efforts which is lovely, but lonely.
If you are unfortunate enough to have not only lost a loved one recently, but to also be facing the many obstacles of orchestrating a normal funeral right now – I just want to say I am so sorry. You don’t need this extra stress – you have so much already. But, here you are and you need a plan, maybe some ideas.
First and foremost, I want to make it clear that you need to have this funeral. It will be up to you and your family about when and where and how – but please trust me when I say that you will not regret making this funeral happen.
The funeral event is a type of rite-of-passage for bereaved people. It’s not that it’s magical or you’re ok at the end – but it provides a transition point for our grief. The funeral is the point in time where we gather publicly to say “goodbye” and there is something to that that we see as a marker in the grief journey.
I am deeply concerned and saddened for families who may be deprived or cheated out of this opportunity due to the timing of the pandemic and quarantine precautions.
Funerals are times of compulsive gathering. But right now, invitations are extremely limited – if allowed at all (we are still allowing them, fyi). Some might suggest postponing, which isn’t a bad option, but there are several reasons that it might be more difficult to postpone than you think. A couple things to keep in mind if postponing:
Below is a list of creative & practical suggestions about how to still have this powerful experience in a time of quarantine.
Wishing you all calm, safety and peace.