When You Can’t Attend a Funeral: A Simple Reflection at Home

April 13, 2020

We know that this is a difficult time for those in our community who are trying to keep themselves and their neighbors safe during this pandemic. This difficulty is compounded when experiencing the loss of a neighbor, friend, or family member. In order to help you process your grief when you are unable to commune with others, the Church of England created a short reflection that can be used to acknowledge a passing from home. We have adapted that resource to give you options when you cannot attend a funeral or service but want to honor your loved one. We look forward to a time when social distancing is unnecessary and we can all have fellowship and share our memories with one another. We hope this reflection helps you in the interim.

  1. Before you find a place to sit quietly, you might wish to have a photograph of the person who has died. You may also wish to write a few special memories down or listen to a piece of music that connects you with the person you are remembering. Think of those who are also in mourning. You may wish to light a candle and say a pray for comfort and hope.
  2. Read a passage of a poem or a selection from a book of faith that is comforting. Many will opt for reading Psalm 23 but you may wish to choose something non-denominational. “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye is a fitting choice for some.
  3. Reflect on your memories. What stands out in your mind about this person? What will you always remember about them? What things did you learn through their life about your own life or death? Do not be afraid to find humor or share something more personal as you are in the safety of your own quiet space.
  4. Now give thanks for their life and ask for strength for yourself and those that grieve. A prayer is often the what is said at this point. Two examples of such a prayer are as follows:
    1. Creator of the Universe, thank you for (name) and for all he/she meant to me and others. I so wanted to say good-bye. Help me to know that you are there, holding all my hopes, holding all those I love, especially (name), and holding me this day too. Be close to us all this day with your peace and hope. Amen.
    2. Heavenly Father, you have not made us for darkness and death, but for life with you forever. Without you we have nothing to hope for; with you we have nothing to fear. Speak to us now your words of eternal life. Lift us to the light and peace of your presence, and set the glory of your love before us today: through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
  5. If you wish, you may say the Lord’s Prayer.
  6. End by saying a prayer or reading a passage that is meaningful and helps to close the reflection. An example of a simple prayer would be: “God our creator and redeemer, by your power Christ conquered death and entered into glory. Confident of his victory, and claiming his promises, we entrust (name) to your mercy in the name of Jesus our Lord, who died and is alive and reigns with you, now and forever. Amen.” You may wish for a non-denominational reading such as the poems “All is Well” by Oliver Wright or “Remember Me” by Margaret Mead.
  7. Finally, take a moment to visit the loved one’s digital obituary and memorial page to share a photo or memory, light a candle, send flowers to the family, or donate to a charity. These gestures will mean so much to a family in grief.

For more questions and guidance on how to honor a loved one when you can’t be present at a service, or for assistance in creating a meaningful funeral for those who cannot be present, please feel free to reach out to one of our Community Outreach Directors or Licensed Funeral Directors at (757) 422-4000 (Southside) or (757) 874-4200 (Peninsula).

Adapted from The Church of England. Full article HERE.  Additional non-denominational poems and readings can be found HERE.