Grieving the loss of a loved one during the fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming. It may be difficult for people to make decisions about how to safely grieve and honor their loved one. This guidance is for individuals and families as they work with funeral directors, community and religious leaders, and others to plan and hold funeral services and visitations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In some situations, many people have become sick with COVID-19 after attending a funeral service. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in communities, changes need to be made to the way funerals, visitations, and memorials to the deceased are held. This guidance provides strategies to protect yourself and others when you are grieving the loss of a loved one, supporting each other, making funeral arrangements, and participating in funeral services and visitations. Some examples include:
- Using technology to connect virtually with family and friends during the grieving process.
- Considering modified funeral arrangements, such as limiting attendance at funerals held during shortly after the time of death to a small number of immediate family members and friends; and then holding additional memorial services when social distancing guidelines are less restrictive.
- Practicing social distancing by maintaining at least 6 feet between attendees, facility staff, and clergy or officiants when small, in-person services are held.
- Considering modifications to funeral rites and rituals (for example, avoid touching the deceased person’s body or personal belongings or other ceremonial objects) to make sure of everyone’s safety.
- Wearing cloth face coverings while around others and outside of your home.
Grieving the loss of a loved one
Grief is a normal response to losing someone important to you. When a loved one dies, it is important for friends and family to be able to share stories and memories of the person and how they influenced their lives. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, “stay at home orders,” and limits to gatherings have affected the ability of friends and family to come together in person and grieve in typical ways. This is true regardless of whether the person’s death was due to COVID-19 or some other cause.
Fortunately, most people understand that hosting gatherings now could be dangerous to those who would want to participate. Family and friends are finding alternate ways to connect, support each other, and grieve after their loss. They understand the need to possibly plan for additional memorial services when COVID-19-related restrictions are lifted.