The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has continually updated its guidelines for funerals and memorial services during the COVID-19 pandemic, and upon each amendment, Williamson Memorial Funeral Home is continuing to alter its recommendations to families as they plan to celebrate the life and grieve the loss of their loved ones.
“The healing part of grief is being around family and friends and touching and hugging and food that comfort, and unfortunately, the last few months have deterred a lot of people from getting that part of it — the healing of the grief part,” said Pam Stephens, co-owner of Williamson Memorial.
As of now, what the CDC has recommended and what Williamson Memorial encourages is for families to postpone large funeral gatherings and memorial services until COVID-19 safety guidelines are less restrictive and to, in the meantime, have small gatherings with immediate family and close friends.
“We are suggesting that families continue doing graveside services so they can be outside and spread out,” Stephens said. “If it is a very small family, then we can accommodate here in our chapel. A lot of churches have opened up to have services, so we’re utilizing churches with big sanctuaries to do the service and then come to the cemetery for the graveside after the church service.”
The CDC also recommends connecting family members through technology during the grieving process or allowing memorial services to be streamed online for friends and family to join remotely. Additionally, funeral attendees are encouraged to remain six feet apart, wear cloth masks, and adjust rituals that involve many people touching the deceased or items, such as pens for signing a book.
While the CDC recommends postponing services until families can hold them as they and their loved ones want, its website says, “in general, there is no need to delay funeral services and visitations due to COVID-19. However, some changes to traditional practices are likely needed.” Stephens said Williamson Memorial has worked with several families to navigate these adjustments.
Stephens said she understands the difficulty of grieving the loss of a loved one during this time and reminds the community that Williamson Memorial is an essential service available 24 hours a day to help families through this time.
For more information about the CDC guidelines for funerals, visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/funeral-guidance.html. To learn more about Williamson Memorial Funeral Home, which owns Spring Hill Memorial Funeral Home, Spring Hill Memorial Crematory, Spring Hill Memorial Park and Williamson Memorial Gardens, visit williamsonmemorial.com.