Pandemic sees many postponing funerals, delaying grief

Grief waits, funerals delayed

B.C. families needing support when a loved one passes away will continue to receive services from funeral homes, crematoriums and cemeteries during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday, the province declared these services essential, which means they will be encouraged to keep operating even if the pandemic requires more business shutdowns and personal isolation.

But how funeral services will be held — and even if they will be held — continues to challenge service providers as they stick to physical distancing rules required by the provincial health authority to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Many people are choosing to hold virtual services, where they webcast a graveside funeral service with no more than 10 people attending or record it for distribution later, while some are simply postponing services.

According to Jason Everden, president of the BC Funeral Association, the vast majority of people are postponing their funeral services during the pandemic. He gave no numbers but said many online obituaries are stating funerals are being delayed.

“A lot of people are postponing funeral services, which is not great — that just postpones grief,” Everden said.

Whether online or in the paper, many obituaries are stating flatly that due to COVID-19 there will be no funeral, some say family members only or a service will be held in the future "when safe."

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