Online Memorial Services: A new option for those bereaved during Covid
A press release announcing availability of Online Memorial Services:
As we mark one full year of restrictions under Covid, a new way of gathering to honour loved ones who have died is being offered via Zoom by Dublin-based Interfaith Minister, Patricia Higgins.
Higgins, who worked in voluntary and community sector organisations for over 20 years, before developing these services in the last 6 months, believes they may be of particular interest to families who have lost someone in the last year. ‘Over 28,000 people have died in Ireland since Covid restrictions began, and their families have suffered the loss not only of a loved one, but of the ‘normal’ grieving rituals too. The aim of these Online Memorial Services is to create a space where the stories and memories traditionally exchanged at a wake or a funeral can still be shared.’
The services are crafted with the those who want to hold the Memorial and are shaped to reflect what they would like expressed about their loved one. As an Interfaith Minister, Patricia has been trained to work with all faiths and none, and is particularly open to working with those who may feel they are ‘over Mass’ but not necessarily ‘over God’. She believes a key attraction of the services is their accessibility – ‘Because they are hosted on Zoom, family and friends are able to join from down the road or across the world, from the safety of their own homes.’
The services are not intended to replace funerals, but rather to complement them, by happening sometime after the funeral itself. ‘Many of those who attend a Memorial may have watched a funeral via webcam. An Online Memorial Service creates an even stronger sense of being together, by allowing all present to be able to see and hear each other and to have a conversation’, said Higgins.
Orla Keegan, Head of Bereavement Services in The Irish Hospice Foundation, believes the initiative is ‘a great idea, to help family and friends connect on special days after a loss’. Higgins sees the process of creating the ceremony ‘can be healing in itself, and some will want to do that for a Month’s mind, or a birthday, and for others they may be facing an anniversary without ever having had a sense of closure, which a holding a gathering like this can offer.’
Workplaces may be another setting where the Online Memorial Services may provide a helpful opportunity after a colleague’s death. Elizabeth, a Senior manager in a Consulting firm based in Dublin, recently approached Patricia to arrange an Online Memorial Service for a member of staff in her organisation. As all of her organisation’s staff are currently working from home, they had to hear and absorb the news of their colleague’s death without being able to physically meet. ‘Patricia helped us to prepare and then guided us gently and respectfully through a gathering to remember and reflect on a beloved colleague. It allowed us to reflect on and record with gratitude all she meant to us. It was a wonderful option for us to have at this time.’