COVID-19: A Guide for the Bereaved The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to change the usual ways we deal with the loss of a loved one. This guide is concerned with the period from the time a death occurs up to the burial or cremation. It is intended to provide clear advice as to what bereaved families might expect as they make funeral arrangements. In particular, it outlines the changes that have become necessary to what are often fundamental and time honoured rituals and processes associated with marking the passing of a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic. The death of a loved one is always a difficult and traumatic event. Even during those times when we have full support of faith, community and family, it is never easy. Unfortunately, during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic it will be even more difficult. Many of the normal religious, cultural and familial traditions place a very strong emphasis on the ritual of a funeral. These now have to be restricted because of the public health measures currently in place. None of these restrictions will be easy. However, it should not mean that people cannot grieve or share memories and stories of loved ones. Coping with the loss of a loved one is one of life’s biggest challenges. People dealing with loss during this period will need the same emotional support and the same love that they would need in normal times – perhaps even more so. Everyone should be encouraged to help one another. To care if they cannot touch, to connect via the various communications channels that are available to us if they cannot meet and mourn with family and friends in the usual way. In time this pandemic will pass. In time life will return to normal. And when it does, there will be opportunities for us all to collectively remember, to consider additional memorial services, and to honour in our families, in our communities, with our friends, those who have passed away during these exceptional times. Until then, we will all have to say goodbye to our loved ones in different, difficult and, in many respects, unsatisfactory but essential ways.
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