We have a new way of life these days. Parents have become the teacher, more of us are working from home, and even the way we bid farewell to our loved ones have taken on an evolution.
One family knows firsthand just how the viral pandemic has disrupted our normal lives and is forcing us to adapt.
Tynia Johnson-Anderson, of Baltimore, Maryland and her loved ones came up with an evolutionary way to bid her grandmother, 78-year-old Lucielle “Teeny” Ann McGee-Gross, farewell even though she didn’t pass away because of COVID-19. The family decided to use technology after not being able to hold a traditional service due to social-distancing orders.
Only ten people could be in attendance, including funeral staff, due to social distancing orders. In order to ensure everyone would have a chance to share in the special moment, the family knew at that point a virtual memorial was the only way to go.
Anderson stated, “I suggested doing it virtually. With the advent of technology, nothing is outside the realm of possibility, she added. The issue we were having was getting the older family members adjusted to this and making it a smooth process. The process is just that, a process.”
Adjusting to the times also means embarking on new territory. Luckily, her friend, Tacye Vogel of Life Tribute Celebrant, was able to help her family see this new way carried through.
Using a streaming app, Zoom, the family was able to make it happen.
“I reached out to a friend who is a life celebrant, Tacye Vogel of Life Tribute Celebrant, to see if she had options for this. With her, we essentially had a zoom call,” she explained. “All family members joined via phone or computer. With our older members, we encouraged them to dial in, however, we will be streaming the service live,” the Spiritually Bougie owner added. “We will be able to speak to one another, as well as see one another,” she added. “ We will be recording and sending out the service to those who could not attend.”
While this isn’t a traditional service, Anderson and the family made sure to keep a few of the elements.
“We still had a memorial program that was sent out prior to the participants. We also followed closely to a traditional order of service,” she explained. There was a time for remarks as well as family slated to sing a solo. We did not have a repast, due to the inability to congregate, but the services remained traditional,” she continued. “The life celebrant spoke, and I hosted and also spoke on behalf of the family. Since we were on video, still dressed to attend a funeral. The only thing different was the use of technology as a buffer,” she added. Our wish was that this helps our family to have collective closure and process our grieving.”
As this becomes a new way of life funeral home owners have a challenge in keeping the families as comfortable as possible.
Vogel stated, “The family interviews over the phone [are a challenge]. Getting people to open up when it is such a new concept. I tell the story of the person who passed, each service is custom,” she shared. “Creating a space they feel comfortable to share with me is easy in person. I will be making sure to use FaceTime or zoom for family interviews in the future.”