Some governments do not allow gathering for funerals. Here are some other options:
Drop-off candlelight wake
This allows you to have a celebration of life service without breaking important pandemic safety rules. You can have guests leave a candle to mark the passing of the deceased, figuratively encircling the families of the deceased with light. Visitors can use a recyclable jar for the candle. Mention that it will not be returned (for safety reasons). Visitros can drive by the house and have only one adult step out of the vehicle to leave a candle. For safety reasons, wearing a mask is advised. You can also put out a basket for visitors to drop in cards or notes. You can have attendants dressed in designated color that is easy to see depending on whether the event is during daytime or in evening. Those who do not feel comfortable leaving their vehicle can roll down the window and ask attendant to light a candle on their behalf. Say that you have a small supply of candles on hand for this. The family of the deceased can stay inside their house, possibly sitting near their windows if that is their preference. Vehicles and wave to the house and toot the horn of their vehicle as they leave.
To ease possible congestion, ask attendees to leave the candle quickly and move on. Ask that they remain in their vehicle until they reach a sign in front of the house which lets that visitor know it is their turn. Because this is not a “gathering” due to legal restrictions, visitors will not visit in person out of the vehicles.
Designate specific times to drive-thru and drop-off based on their last name. For example, you could have A-M drive by between 18:00-19:30, and N-Z drive by between 19:30-21:00.
Let people know that pictures will be shared of the vigil on your church social media page.
Some prefer to have the minister and few family members together, and livestream the service. Sample 1
You can have a time of reflecting on memories of the deceased. This is similar to a memorial service 1 You have to proactively set the expectations that it can be difficult to know exactly how to grieve through a screen. It may seem anti-climactic. Some will have many more stories they want to share, and that might need a follow up video chat for the family. But it is a way to have many guests participate.
You can honor the memory of a deceased person on the yard of a family member. Visitors can donate a bedding out plat to the memorial garden. The put their name on the plant container and drop it off at the family member’s house.
Delay memorial service until after the pandemic
Some Christian traditions prefer to offer a Mass during a memorial service. 1
Socially distant gathering
If your government allows, you can have people or households wearing masks and separated by social distancing standards. A minister can lead in the memorial service. This can be many. Or it can be few, like family-only at the graveside.
Living room funeral (masks and gloves included)
In some cultures, the only appropriate option is visited the family of the deceased in their home. Here is how this Hispanic pastor in New York City handled it. “rias hands out masks and gloves as soon as he steps foot in the candle-lit living room. Then he asks everyone to stand as far apart as they can. Normally they’d be inside their church. The pews would be packed. He’d hug the mourners before the service started so they’d know they weren’t alone…It’s a small gathering for immediate family, and the first funeral Arias has done in a private home. And today he is just as focused on protecting the living as he is on leading prayers for the dead. In addition to the gloves and masks, he’s brought disinfectant spray for the communion plate.” 1
Build a meaningful memorial
Family and friends built an outdoor memorial close to a special place to the deceased. People typically leave flowers, pictures, and notes remembering the deceased.
Some states allow in-building funerals that allow enough guests that can still maintain appropriate social distancing.