April 22, 2020

Saying Goodbye when we Can’t Say Goodbye.

Elephant’s Continually updating Coronavirus Diary. ~ Waylon


There’s no denying that we’re in for a difficult time.

We’re in lockdown, we can’t see friends and family unless it’s digitally, and most of us won’t be able to be there when a loved one passes away.

Rachel Malone is a funeral celebrant who is supporting the people who are dealing with devastating loss, at a time when they are not able to come together to mourn. I asked Rachel to share her insight and to offer advice to anyone who may have to deal with such heartbreaking circumstances. 

“While funeral services are still going ahead, for the moment, there is a great deal of confusion over the number of mourners allowed to attend. Things are up in the air in the funeral industry right now and while your funeral director is the best placed person to give you all the advice, it’s time to start thinking about how you can say goodbye when you can’t have a memorial service,” advised Rachel.

We’ve all heard from our loved ones that they don’t want tears. That they’ve lived a great life and don’t want you to be sad.

That’s understandable, but grief is necessary.

Rachel stresses that you have to allow yourself to go through each stage, and while you’re on lockdown, apart from your household, there is nobody to see you cry and nobody to give you personal comfort. Those who live alone will have nobody with them, but there are still ways of getting through this and reaching out for support.

“A memorial service should be about celebrating someone’s life. A great celebrant or minister of any religion should make people believe that they really knew the person you’re saying goodbye to, and there are plenty of celebrants and religious officials still working,” advised Rachel. “Not every crematorium is set up to webcast services, but that’s not to say that a service can’t be held in a different way. Thanks to apps like Zoom and House Party, you can get people together still. But if that’s not possible, you still need to say goodbye and it’s finding ways that you can do this.”

Here is some advice by Rachel on ways that you can say goodbye, without a service:

  1. Music can be poignant and personal. Make a playlist of all of their favourite songs. The ones you used to sing together when you were little, the ones they sang when they’d had a few too many, the songs they introduced you to. Take the time and listen to them, those lyrics.
  2. Get out all those photos and go through them. Pick out the ones that show them grumpy, happy, daft and relive those memories. Make a collage of their life.
  3. What did they make that made you happy? Whether it’s a picture, a cake, a jumper, it doesn’t matter. Try and do it yourself. Listen to their voice that you’ll hear in your head that’s theirs. That voice you remember when they asked if that was really how you wanted to do it.
  4. Talk out loud. Don’t keep it in. Let them know you miss them. 
  5. Get a plant. Something that you can perhaps start growing inside, and plant out later. That will become a memorial plant, and it will be that focal point that will help you grieve. It will be something you can use as a conduit for your thoughts.
  6. You may not be able to have a service just now, but you can plan something for when times are better and we can all come together again.
  7. What you have are your memories, and those memories are unique to you. Share those memories, post them on social media, don’t hold back on all those daft things they did, and remember who they were. Thank them for all they did, all the sacrifices made to let you have the best. Thank them for all of those things we all take for granted, like laughter, smiles and the time you shared together. In this busy world, it’s time that is truly the most precious commodity any of us have to give.

“Our loved ones reside in the hearts and minds of the living and by simply remembering all that they did for us, by speaking it out loud, we keep them alive in our hearts and in our minds” ~ Rachel Malone, Funeral Celebrant

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