Written by: Susan Perry, Funeral Director
EXTEND YOUR CONDOLENCES: The way people are mourning has changed in this new reality. They are doing it alone. You may have read the articles on how this pandemic is changing funeral service and it has. Social distancing and ever-changing mandates are altering the way we are meeting with families and holding ceremonies. You, as a friend or family member, may not be able to go to the visitation or service.
We can’t hug them, put a firm touch on their shoulder or shake their hand. We can’t bring over a casserole, visit or help clean the house. It’s frustrating that we can’t help in the usual way. This situation is adding another layer to the pain that we call grief that encompasses someone after losing a loved one. They are alone. Usually, at a gathering or ceremony, the family can look out and see their wonderful support system. Hug them, listen to stories and memories over a table of finger foods. Visit with friends on the porch. This is not happening right now and it’s heartbreaking.
One way you can help is to extend your condolences… I mean truly e x t e n d them. Give them a call if you know them well enough to have their phone number- even if it’s been a while. Online, after the typical three sentences you normally type, continue writing what you would say to them in person. Take the time to write a story down, memories or quotes of their loved one that you hold and share your pictures. Support your local florists and restaurants by sending them something they can touch if you can.
And, don’t forget, this will interrupt your healing from a loss of a friend as well, adding to your own grief, your expressions and writing the words will help. Until we can gather again, we’ll all do the best we can to heal.
Susan Perry is a Funeral Director and Vice President of Outreach for Altmeyer Funeral Homes. She is also a certified Life Celebrant, officiating funeral services tailored to individuals and their unique beliefs. She speaks publicly, advocating funeral service as a culture and as a community, to professional groups, national and local educational peer forums and at area events.