When you can’t attend the funeral of a loved one

It’s always a tough and emotional time to say goodbye to a loved one, no matter what the circumstances.

Knowing you cannot attend the funeral of a loved one or close friend can cause even more distress at a time when you are already feeling sadness and deep emotion. This is yet another challenge COVID has put upon us. However, safety must still take priority, and there are many ways you can be part of the memorial services and remembering the life of your friend and loved one.

So, what is the right thing to do and how can you still be a part of the memorial service?

While numbers are limited at the attendance of funerals it is the right thing to do to ensure that the deceased’s closest family take priority in being in attendance. They may also need to restrict close family members, so check in with someone you know who is part of this decision making.

Additionally, there may be current restrictions on entering geographical locations outside of your location This is yet another a factor when thinking about whether you can and should attend a service or not.

If you are unable to attend in person at this time, here are some ways you can still be involved:

  • Is the service being live streamed? Get the live stream details so you can watch the service in real time.
  • If you are unable to access the stream at the time, find out if the service is being recorded, and how you may be able to access it afterwards. Perhaps watch the service at a later time with friends where you can share your stories together.
  • Ask if you can contribute to part of the memorial stories that will be shared on the day. Or maybe you have some photos or footage that you feel would be an important portrayal to be shown as part of the deceased’s life.
  • Create an online memorial board or contribute your personalised memorial message if there is already one set up. This is a lovely way to express emotions and memories and will be a forever tribute.
  • While the digital age has seen a decline in sympathy cards being posted to families, sending/receiving a card at this time could be mutually beneficial for both the sender (to pass on thoughts) as well as the family to receive kind words from the people they knew would have loved to have been at the service.
  • Did your friend or loved one have special wishes about donations in lieu of flowers, or were you aware of special causes they had a passion for? Take the lead on rallying other friends to see the wishes of your friend being met.

While there is no real substitute for actually being at your loved one’s service, we are in “unprecedented times” and this calls for different actions.

Remember however, you are not alone. There are other friends and relatives who are also feeling the same way and it’s important to draw upon these friendships and shared memories at this time.

With modern ways of keeping in touch such as video calls, groups across different mediums and sharing of videos, you can create your own unique memorials within the groups of people that you have shared many of those memories with the deceased.

At this time, stay safe, stay connected and don’t lose touch of the special memories and emotions you have of your friend or loved one.

For current restrictions around the attendance at funerals, keep up to date at