The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted every single aspect of the lives of Canadians, including one of the most important things: the ability to say goodbye to a loved one after their death.
“Our families have definitely needed to make sacrifices over the last 18 months when it comes to celebrations of life, memorials and the grieving process,” said Matthew Davis, managing director of the Adams Funeral Home in north-end Barrie. “During the height of the pandemic, we had very strict limitations on both indoor and outdoor (services); at one point, 10 people maximum were allowed in for services, which made the process very hard on the families.”
Davis said despite those limitations, they — and others in the profession — have worked hard to try to help grieving families, knowing how important closure can be in people’s ability to move on.
“Families had to sacrifice a lot of traditions and were prevented from carrying out services they’d envisioned for their loved ones. Because of all of that they weren’t given the opportunity to properly grieve with the community,” he said, adding they did their best to give them the most personal service possible with those limitations.
One thing that has changed for the better, Davis noted, is the addition of technology over the last 18 months.
“Our live-stream capabilities is a service that’s going to be around to stay," he said. "Having a bit of tele-presence — with virtual ceremonies, music and eulogies — that can be shared in the online environment is great.”
That being said, those additions will likely never replace in-person services.
“Families are missing face-to-face social interactions. That’s why we are even planning on offering receptions in the near future, which is an important element... and (will be) increasing safety measures to ensure safety of the community," Davis added.
With restrictions easing, Davis said he has also noticed an increase in requests for memorial services, celebrations of life and second funerals.
“Families are now getting that opportunity to celebrate the life of a loved one a little more properly,” he said, adding that having that opportunity for closure is an important part of the grieving process. “We have seen an increase in delayed services. Families are in need of a deeper closure.
"By welcoming the community to come and join the family and celebrate this life during one of the most difficult times in their lives has been a really positive experience… so they can share memories together.”
Davis encourages families contemplating additional service, or who find themselves in need of closure to reach out to a funeral service professional.
“COVID has taught us, in this industry, that we have to strive to offer more to our bereaved families, relearn common practices that we’ve taken for granted and to appreciate the option of joining together with fewer restrictions," he said.