A Guide to Attending Funeral Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A Guide to Attending Funeral Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With respect to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic we’re living in, times are tragic, traumatic, and tricky. We are left with so many questions about how to console one another, and ourselves. People we love are passing away, friends are losing their loved ones. In addition to people we love dying of COVID-19, we are unsure how to lay to rest our departed and how to appropriately comfort those we love who are mourning. So, let’s take a minute to address the elephant in the room — should we be attending funerals during this pandemic?

Should I Attend a Funeral Service During the Pandemic?

There are two answers to this. First, it depends on your level of comfort being around others or if you prefer to stay at home for safety. Second, and even more importantly, it depends on what the family has decided to do for the funeral arrangements. Families are deciding between a few options for funerals. If the family does decide to hold an in-person service, they may limit the number of people in attendance or keep the gathering to immediate family members. Some might even postpone services until after social distancing guidelines are lifted.
Funeral home staff members have been particularly helpful with providing alternative solutions for funeral arrangements. Some funeral homes are offering virtual services, such as live streams of memorials or other tributes. Others are providing online guest books where friends can leave notes of condolences and other personal anecdotes.
If the family prefers to hold an in-person funeral service, whether you choose to attend in person will depend on your level of comfort. For instance, if you have a family member at home who is immunocompromised, you may not feel comfortable attending the service and potentially increasing you and your loved one’s exposure to the coronavirus. However, if you do feel comfortable with personally attending the memorial to offer your condolences and pay your respects, the funeral home will most likely be observing social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to increase the safety of all those in attendance.

If I Go, Do I Need to Wear a Mask?

Most likely, yes. However, beyond the practice of wearing masks, the most important factor to preserve yours and others’ safety while attending an in-personal funeral service is to engage in social distancing. In adherence to social distancing guidelines, you may be attending an outdoor funeral with seating, six feet apart from one another. You will want to keep distanced from anyone who does not live with you in your household. Make sure to wash your hands often as well. It is an unfortunate and difficult fact of these sensitive circumstances to not be able to show affection as support for your family members and friends, but it’s best for now. You can hug and kiss those in your household who are accompanying you to the service, but otherwise your presence will serve as the best demonstration of love and support you can give.

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Different funeral practices and death beliefs

Different funeral practices and death beliefs has put together a list of different religious practices and beliefs for some of the more popular religions around the world. This section of our website will help in preparing you when attending a funeral in the listed religions.


There are a few different beliefs within this one religion. Japanese Buddhists funerals traditionally last for about one hour and fifteen minutes and have a prayer service at a funeral home and a eulogy is usually read. Cambodian, Sir Lanka, and Thai Buddhists have up to three ceremonies where each lasts about forty five minutes. The first one is held within two days of the death at a home of the immediate family; the second is held within two to fives days after death and this is where monks would conduct a service in the funeral home; the third ceremony which is also called the ‘merit transference’ is held seven days after the death. It is customary the people who attend the funeral bow and see the body in the casket as a sign of appreciation for its lessons regarding impermanence. Then, the monks will lead a ceremony from the house of the family or temple after burial or cremation as a closing procession.


In the Christian faith it is traditional that there is a service where the body is being viewed so those friends and family members can pay their respect to the deceased and the surviving family of the deceased. The Christian faith does recognize cremation as well as entombment and earth burial. At the viewing service it is customary to pass in front of the casket and then to acknowledge the family members that are sitting in the front of the room. Flowers and religious gifts are a sign of respect to the deceased and there family, as well as donations to a charity of your choice or one that is set up by the family. Usually a Christian service can last any were from 1-5 days for viewing and burial, after the viewing is completed there is a prayer service that is done and will typically take place in the funeral home or in the church if one is chosen. Directly after the prayer service there is a procession of cars that are led by the funeral director and the hearse to the cemetery or crematory where a Priest says a prayer and a eulogy may be spoken and then the deceased is laid to rest. After the funeral is completed there is usually a social gathering where family and friends gather to grieve and mourn. Food is customary to bring however it is not required unless you have been asked or committed specifically.

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