How can you say goodbye to a loved one who fell victim to a pandemic?
The recent and ongoing COVID-19 outbreak has forced those in the funeral business to address some uncomfortable questions. In fact, in a statement to Sky News, the United Kingdom’s National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) said that in the event of a pandemic, memorial services may need to be held over the internet.
Death during a crisis can be a logistical challenge. Whether families fear infection, or if the government you live under happens to ban public gatherings of a certain size — as happened recently in France and Switzerland — we all need to mourn.
The NAFD says it’s in “dialogue with the [UK] government and local authorities to seek early guidance on steps funeral directors may need to take in the event of a pandemic.”
New guidelines, based on the severity of local circumstances, would help families to plan funeral services for loved ones in a variety of ways, ranging from holding a separate memorial service later to livestreaming a service from a crematory facility.
Though NAFD’s conversations are preliminary, it’s a solemn reminder of a pandemic’s capacity to alter the reality of our world, even in death.
The ultimate goal of talks with the government, according to Sky News, would be to help “families who lose a loved one during [an outbreak] in finding meaningful ways to say goodbye — even if the funeral they would have preferred isn’t possible.”
More on the future of funerals: People are livestreaming funerals