Grieving in the time of social distancing
In this unprecedented time of social distancing, grieving the death of a loved-one has become challenging. Paying respects, comforting loved ones and friends with the traditional viewing and funeral services while staying safe is all but impossible. Can we grieve, honor, and celebrate the lives of those who died without being closer than six feet apart? According to Chaplain Ken Jackson, a spiritual care counselor at Angelic Health Hospice and Palliative Care the answer is yes, if we open ourselves up to technology and creativity.
"Families who are not able to have funerals and cannot travel from state to state can mourn with one another by using social media and posting a tribute to their loved one," said Jackson, of Franklin Township who has been a pastor for nearly 40 years. "A minister or officiant can also post a video with words of consolation," he explained.
With the current situation many houses of worship have embraced technology and are video streaming their regular weekly services to the congregations, so they already have the technology in place to provide remote service.
With a Google search you can learn how to set up your own You Tube channel, and videos can be added from those family members who are willing to post. This is free and can be kept private for close family and friends or made public. "Keeping them private would help those who are more self-conscious and not likely to post publicly," explained Chaplain Ken, adding that the tributes are there to comfort the living as well as remember those who have died. This recorded support can be viewed at the convenience of family and friends at any time, lasting long beyond the initial stages of grief.
"For family members who wish to be involved but are not sure what they would say or do could read a poem or scripture, write and then read a letter of condolence, or share a funny story they remember about the loved one," he suggested.
For those who are unable, unwilling, or prefer not to involve social media and technology in the grieving process, you can still offer condolences during this time though phone calls, or cards and letters to the family. While you may not be able to participate in the viewing services or a formal funeral, you can still have closure and acknowledge the passing by visiting the gravesite alone to offer your prayers to the departed.
If you find yourself struggling with grief Angelic Health offers a Grief Support Kit, under Community Resources. Also feel free to contact Angelic Health by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling our main number at 609-822-7979. Our bereavement support and spiritual care counselors are available to everyone.