Week 2 - This is No Time For April Fool Jokes
As the times are rapidly changing – all our ceremony conversations with our grieving families are now being done remotely ☹ and this saddens me, however the risk of going into someone’s home is just too great, and even though this is absolutely not what we want to do; we have had to find other ways to talk with families.
So, our talks with families, discussing the Service for their loved ones’ funeral are taking place via phone or skype or WhatsApp calls or Messenger video link, but they are no less meaningful and we can pause and gather our thoughts and regroup as many times as needed.
We are still thankfully, [as at 31 March 2020] able to hold a small ceremony at the Huddersfield Crematoria – but obviously all the same restrictions are in place – as they were at the back end of last week, only families who live together can sit side by side.
All others must be at least 2 meters apart and there are still 10 chairs for attendees only to be in the Chapel as of this moment.
This is a challenge for everyone – none of us want this to happen, my thoughts go to instinctively to ..“what is the best outcome we can hope for out this dreadful situation?”
…. But sadly we have to think ahead to the possibility of the crematoria possibly not allowing attendees at all inside the chapel, as is happening in some of the major cities i.e. Leeds being our nearest that has had to go this route as of last week.
So, what I want to do for our Creating Memories families, who are further suffering as a result of these limitations on top of the grief they are already experiencing…. is to offer the very best I can in the worst situation imaginable; not being able to attend the Funeral of a loved one.
Below I am sharing a few ideas that may be helpful for families who cannot attend the crematoria service due to isolating, or not being in the 10 immediate family group, or in a "high risk group".
What is already in place at the local Crematoria is the option to have a live web stream of the service; (bookable in advance and is normally chargeable but that cost has been dropped by Kirklees Council who have responsibility for the Crematoria in Kirklees – Huddersfield (Fixby) and Dewsbury Moor and also by Calderdale Council who have the responsibility for Park Wood Crematorium in Elland).
The live web stream is secure and only accessible by the family and friends who have been given the secure password and login – uniquely allocated to each service.
If preferred you could opt for a DVD recording of the ceremony, which your Funeral Director will order for you and this can be ordered, anytime within the following couples of weeks after the ceremony (at time of writing this).
Sometimes families are choosing for one family member to go on Facebook Live or record it on an iPad or mobile phone and/or stream it via group conferencing method; there are lots available on the App Store of your device, we use “Zoom” and WhatsApp Video and FACETIME SKYPE and Messenger video as required, to connect with family groups and to deliver the Ceremony if required.
So, whilst not being present at the Funeral in person is heart-breaking – this does give families a sense of being present in the room and I mention them in the writing of the ceremony, as if they were present with us at the time of the actual service.
For those who have no choice but to stay at home; in order to feel “present” at the time of the Funeral (particularly if there is no access to technology options as mentioned above); here are a few ideas that families may wish to use to honour their loved one in their own space and create that feeling of being present during the farewell….
I do hope that some of these ideas will help you in feeling physically present and they will help the family who are able to be at the Crematorium – as they will know that you are keeping their loved one in your thoughts and respecting their memory. Our physical presence may be restricted for now, but our love is limitless and the imagination we have to create those beautiful moments of respect will never diminish…..here are a few ideas for you;
· It may help to create “virtual altar” where you can leave a written message, a candle and photo of your loved one, flowers or artwork or items that they remind you of them….
· If reading the ceremony is too much for you to cope with – maybe play some songs they loved, enjoy a meal they loved, watch a video of family and friends together, singing a song, reciting a prayer or poem.
· Creating a virtual space like this can be a source of comfort for years to come. People can add to this over the years and leave offerings or messages on special days like birthdays, or when they are really missing their loved one.
· Seeing other people’s contributions can help others feel less alone in their grief. Take a photo of this “virtual altar” and share it with family or friends in the future.
· Some people find that a “memory jar” works well – keep all the notes in a jar until it can be shared later at a memorial ceremony – maybe; it’s a song they liked and what it means to you or recipe they made that you loved to eat; a joke or mannerism that you giggled with them about.
· If the virtual altar idea isn’t for you, you may choose something more private to share your memories, stories and photos of your loved one. You can create a private Facebook Group and send invitations or a link to only selected people. We have this in our family and it is keeping us all going with lots of games and fun at the moment (previously used for my ancestral research and sharing the “genealogy finds” with my family – we also use it send group celebratory wishes Of course, we also offer you another option; I can record a reading of the ceremony and send it electronically to you prior to the Ceremony, so that family who cannot be present, can “hear” it from where they are.to each other for family birthdays/anniversaries etc. But you can use the group you can post discussion prompts or questions to compile a memorial booklet for your loved one too; How did you meet? What’s their Favourite memory? What did they learn from them? These can be collected and shared over a few weeks or a few months or collated for the future memorial service when we can all meet up together again without restrictions and fear. I suppose it is creating a funeral program or memorial booklet but make it virtual and ongoing.
· I will of course have a memorial page option for you on our Facebook Page for people to leave comments and condolences if wished and also a Memorial Comments Box on our BLOG page of our website here if wished.
And I would like to reassure you here, that all our Creating Memories Ceremonies are written uniquely for each person we are saying goodbye to and that will continue, as does the opportunity for the Next of Kin to approve and amends the scripting until they are fully comfortable with it before the words are delivered on the day of the funeral.
Also what we are trying to do now is to send ( the day prior) an emailed presentation copy for families to share electronically or by posting a copy through the door of people they would want to “hear” the ceremony on the day.
As a family, it may be that you choose to nominate a reader from within your household or that you each sit read your own copy at the time you know the funeral is going ahead….so that you can have the feeling of "holding that space in time" for your loved one.
Because “the element of physicality” is so important to our mourning and grieving, it’s useful to have something tangible to touch, it can help to gather together items that remind you of your loved one and hold these during the “virtual ceremony” – this can help with that feeling of “connection” .
It might be nice to share the meaning of these items, in a short tribute which we can add in to the ceremony script to connect “remote” mourners with those who are able to be present on the day, or these can be saved and placed in a “memory jar” for the later memorial ceremony.
Maybe a family member who has a laptop/iPad - could stand outside the window and show the ceremony through it, for the isolating family member - particularly if they are the next of kin and have absolutely no other solution to being able to present.
For those unable to attend as they are isolating – were the circumstances permit – maybe the Hearse arriving at the Next of Kin Family Home on the way to the Crematorium and a “distanced” open air ceremony could take place with the Hearse opened and the immediate family as close as they can be to their loved one, as I deliver a few short words of farewell – from the safe distance allowed. I would hope that this will be able to achieved, as a very minimum, to help anyone who is saying goodbye to a member of their household.
These are dreadfully difficult times and thoughts and ideas - I hope to never have to do...but sadly we live in very difficult times and I want to do the best I safely can do for you all.
I am very lucky to work with the utmost professional, caring and considerate Funeral Directors who all want the same too - the very best for families going through such heart break and I know that they too are finding this saddening, to not be able to always give families the choices and options that they want to give you, for your loved ones funeral is not why any of us work in Funeral care services.
In short this is the worst time ever….not being able to physically say Goodbye and it breaks my heart to even think this, but we will get through this together #HandOnHeart and my promise to all my #creatingmemories Families is, when this is OVER and it WILL be over, I am here to deliver a truly beautiful ceremony of remembrance once again, for your loved ones in a more fitting manner as they deserve... supporting you through this in any way I safely can.
Take care all and I will be back again here…as the situation changes