Should services be postponed because of COVID-19?

By: William Spence
Wednesday, May 13, 2020

The novel coronavirus has left little undisrupted, including final arrangements for those who pass during this scourge.  Whether out of prudence or mandate, too often the wishes of the deceased or their family cannot be carried out as hoped because of social distancing and group size limitations.  This has resulted in many families deciding to announce a memorial service “at a later date.”  Although there have always been valid reasons for postponing certain services, my professional advice is for families to give considerable thought before rushing into postponing a service solely based on COVID-19 restrictions.

Most times when services are postponed, they are done so to accommodate family scheduling.  Often, the date and time is known and is immediately made public.  However, no one can really say when the restrictions will be lifted regarding COVID-19.  At least in some regions, large gatherings may be limited for the foreseeable future.  I feel that many of the services that are postponed with good intentions will not happen.  That is unhealthy for the grieving family.

Do not misunderstand me, I am not opposed to having a memorial gathering for the departed in the future.  I think it is most fitting.  But I do feel that having a service for a loved one shortly following death is also necessary.  This allows the family an opportunity to begin the journey of healing their grief.  Technology provides us with many options to involve others virtually until we can meet face-to-face. 

Several of the important functions of a service include: publicly acknowledging that a death has happened and that separation causes pain and grief; allowing the community an opportunity to show compassion and support during your time of sorrow; and if you are a person of faith, revisiting your beliefs to receive hope. These steps are foundational in order to begin the healing of grief.  When a service is delayed, the road to grief recovery is delayed and can become more difficult.

Make plans for a memorial service or celebration of life “at a later date,” but for your emotional health, consider having a small, private service at a reasonable time following your loved one’s death.  You will be glad that you did not miss the opportunity.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Updated Guidelines

Spence Funeral Services joins Lancaster County and the region in celebrating the move from the most restrictive red phase of the Commonwealth’s response to the novel coronavirus to more moderate ye...

What happens to the money when we pre-pay our funerals with Spence Funeral Services?

In Pennsylvania, funeral directors are required by law to deposit in escrow or trust the entire amount of the monies received by the funeral director for future expenses. None of this money is avai...

News Release: COVID-19

William P. Spence Funeral & Cremation Services, Inc., Is Prepared to Safely Care for Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic William P. Spence Funeral & Cremation Services, Inc., remains com...

What is the PA state law regarding funeral processions?

As one might expect, each state has its own laws regarding funeral processions. In Pennsylvania, each vehicle in the procession must have its headlights lit and emergency lights flashing as well as...

What is “preplanning” and does Spence Funeral Services offer it?

Preplanning is simply a matter of taking care of your funeral service details before the need arises. Today, more and more people are making the thoughtful decision to discuss their final arrangeme...

How should I dress for a funeral?

In the past, custom dictated that immediate family wore black clothing to the funeral of a deceased family member. While other relatives and friends didn’t necessarily need to be dressed in black, ...

Are vaults required in Pennsylvania?

Vaults or other types of outer burial containers are not required by federal or Pennsylvania state law to be placed in the ground prior to a casket being buried. However, most cemeteries in Lancast...

Do you provide traditional funeral services?

Do you provide traditional funeral services? The answer is “Yes, we provide traditional funeral services.”  Actually, we provide a continuum of funeral services ranging from traditional servi...

Who is William P. Spence?

I was raised in rural Indiana County. Prior to becoming a funeral director, I was employed for 12 years as an underground coal miner by Rochester & Pittsburgh Coal Company. In 1993, I graduated...

What sets William P. Spence Funeral & Cremation Services, Inc., apart from other funeral homes?

Providing services to families that are appropriate and meaningful at an affordable price are the hallmarks of our business. As a funeral home in Manheim, part of our mission is to exceed the expec...