Grieving in the midst of Covid-19


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Recently there has been a lot of attention on how funerals are conducted in the midst of the COVID-19 situation.

A circular issued on 10th April 2020 by NEA states that the number of persons at any one time allowed at funeral services and wakes should not exceed 10. This excludes religious workers and supporting staff of essential activities. This 10 person limitation applies to foot procession send-off as well as to the funerary procession at the 3 crematoriums in Singapore.

Despite measures implemented by the authorities during this circuit breaker period, wake venues with more than 10 attendees are still spotted and images of the various venues have even been snapped and uploaded onto the internet.

An article published by The New Paper describes the situation for funeral wakes aptly. COVID-19 has indeed caused a seismic shift in how we, Singaporeans mourn over the loss of our loved ones. Relatives and friends streaming into and gathering at funeral wakes – a common sight before is hardly seen now.

Instead, a new scene emerges. Most wakes (if any) would be a quieter affair during this crucial period. Visitors to the wake are little (if any), and masked up. Sanitisers can be sighted, sometimes with a forehead thermometer at the side. Tapes and gantries cordoning the area serves to remind us that we are in a period of unprecedented crisis. Declaration forms used for contact tracing becomes a must to-do. These visible signs are doubtless depressing for those in grief. We are so used to a certain type of mourning set in stone by years of customs that a sudden change could radically shake our belief system. After all, who wouldn’t be affected by uncertainties?

Funerals are not just for the dead but are for the surviving family members as well. Although the number of persons allowed to attend wakes are limited to 10 at any one time; with proper planning, those who wish to pay their last respects to the deceased can do so by staggering the inflow and outflow of wake visitors. Thanks to technology, those who are stuck overseas can offer condolences to the bereaved families via electronic means. Live streaming is also made available to allow relatives and friends from different parts of the world a chance to partake in the funerary procession. [We offer both services complimentary during this period in our best attempt to help family members tide through this period]

The way we deal with grief has taken a different form during this season. We are seemingly given a shorter period to grieve and worse, we kinda have to do it in isolation. However, if we leverage on technology the right way, we could potentially still be there for those we care for. A video call to check in on a person, a voice call or even a simple message could mean a lot more to the person than you think. It doesn’t matter that the way we reach out to those in grieve has to change. What really matters is we still do reach out, isn’t it?

I guess the key to manage is to adapt to the circumstances and to do the best we can to face this ordeal together, as one united nation.

On a side note, do remember to spend more quality time with your loved ones during this CB period since we finally have the chance to do so now.

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