We need to talk more about dying, death and bereavement. That’s the message of this year’s Dying Matters Awareness Week, where the theme is Dying To Be Heard.
Here Joanna, a Jigsaw (South East) supporter, shares her experience of an online funeral during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Last week I attended my first online streamed funeral. It was incredibly moving and for the children at the service perhaps a gentler way for them to say goodbye.
There were two youngsters, aged six and two, in the small congregation of 10 family members able to attend. The two branches of the family had to sit apart, in line with government guidelines on social distancing.
On this occasion there were no prayers, but the Celebrant and the family both talked about the person who had died. At the end the six year old went up to the coffin and said very clearly, “Bye, Bye Grandpa”, then waved at it, which was very touching. It occurred to me that in a normal setting most of the mourners would have missed that wonderful moment, especially if it was a large gathering.
Meanwhile, the toddler was happily running around. In different circumstances he might have been taken out of the church or chapel. Here he was able to wander and gurgle without impact. With so few people present, some children could feel a little more relaxed and less anxious than being surrounded by a large crowd.
On the flip side, part of the goodbye involves the hugging and sharing of memories, which obviously could not happen here. However, the Celebrant handled this beautifully, fully acknowledging the situation and discussing what the family could do to remember their loved one, both now and in the future.
The crematorium service was shorter than normal and lasted around 20 minutes. The live stream, which I was watching with 118 others across the world, was of a very high quality and made available to the family afterwards.
In conclusion, though ideally we would all have wanted to be at the service to say goodbye, online it was still a very lovely and moving experience.