VIEW OF OAK HILL Cemetery in Owosso. (Independent Photo)
The COVID-19 crisis has been marked by loss and grief. Many people are dealing with individual losses such as death, illness, loss of employment, familial and social upheavals, loss of routine and more. There is communal grieving occurring, too, as people witness area businesses, churches, schools and events shut down. Where most realize that grief is a natural process and that many of us are resilient, it is important to recognize that with traditional bereavement events related to the passing of loved ones limited under state orders, alternate means of expression are possible.
The need for social distancing has obviously made many traditional funeral services problematic for friends and family during the COVID-19 crisis with the current 10-person limit. In a recent phone conversation with Kevin Kregger from Nelson-House Funeral Homes in Owosso, he shared some important advice. “Each family is different, but from our stand point, we are here to make the roughest time somewhat easier for these families. As far as what follows, it becomes about the family needing to share those important memories and keeping lines of communication open. Instead of telling someone who is grieving to just call if they need, we tell people to reach out to them. They are never going to call,” said Kregger.
Currently, Kregger explained that many services are limited to mostly immediate family and often include a “nice graveside service.” However, during these smaller services, family members likely do not have all the support there they need. “Some family members, friends and co-workers are absent right now,” he said. He suggests picking up a phone and making that significant call – and though emailing and social media are readily available – sending out a traditional letter through the postal system is a better means of letting someone know they are not forgotten. “We need to do everything we can right now to lift each other up,” Kregger shared.
“Even for us, receiving a card is so much more meaningful because it shows that someone put forth a little effort in reaching out,” he said.
Nelson-House Funeral Homes offers a monthly email on grieving available at www.nelson-house.com. Other bereavement information is
available on the site, too. Kregger said that they have been live-streaming services and “trying everything we can do to assist the families. Our hearts and prayers are with our families, all of the families.”
“When this is all over, be ready for a big hug from me,” he stated, explaining that it has been difficult to not express his compassion through a handshake or hug.
Some other basic suggestions involve planting a tree, bush or special plant in honor of a loved one, maintaining connections with friends and family members (as much as is safely possible), lighting candles, praying, meditation, taking walks or pursuing some art or music therapy. Children might find some comfort in planting a flower, painting a rock or other means of open expression.