A woman takes a lateral flow covid test

Continuing bonds

Alternative ways to remember friends or family during Covid-19.

22 June 2022

Difficult times

In our current situation, funerals are not the same. 

They may not look like we want them and expect them to. Only a few people may be able to attend. There are still important things we can do to mark this time, even from home. 

What can we do?

1 - Light a candle

"We took our favourite photograph of Luis and put it in the windowsill in the front room. We said a prayer and lit a candle placing it next to the photograph. Neighbours in the street also put a candle in their windows for Luis that evening, which lit up the whole street.

"Every day now, we light a candle for Luis, to keep his warmth with us and to give us hope."

2 - Hold a virtual memorial

"James had friends all over the world, but it was only us at his funeral. His friends offered to help us set up an online memorial. It was led by his best friend, and different people contributed readings and short memories. We played his favourite song at the beginning and at the end, and the background image was a photo of him from the day he got married."

3 - Make a memory box

Creating a memory box is something people who are recently bereaved can consider. Families may choose to put pictures in or items that their loved one owned, this might include jewellery or items of clothing. Short written snippets of favourite memories and objects that remind you of special days can also be put in. Memory boxes can be opened and looked through on anniversaries and other occasions, and they can continue to be added to. It is also possible to create virtual memory boxes where people can deposit in a shared GoogleDrive or Dropbox folder. 

4 - Create a Facebook page

"When someone dies, it's hard to think clearly about anything else, and my biggest fear was forgetting. My dad died when I was 20, and no one spoke about him again. 

"When my partner Ian died unexpectedly a few years ago, I didn't want our children to go through the same eerie silence. So I set up a Facebook page in his honour and asked friends and family to post pictures and stories of his life. Each story brought him back to life for us. We laughed and we cried, and his memory lived on. Practically, it was a place I could let people know about funeral details. And it has become somewhere we can remember him throughout the years. While this page exists and we speak his name, he will always be part of our lives."

5 - Gather their legacy

"We were so upset that all of Mila's friends were not able to attend the funeral. We decided to ask them to send us letters, postcards, photos and small speeches about how she had touched their lives. We want to put these together for a bigger ceremony later this year. These have been posted and emailed to us in the weeks after her death. Reading through the memories and looking through the photos has been hugely meaningful, and has allowed us to stay in touch with her friends , even though we cannot see them in person."

6 - Plant seeds

In the DRC Ebola outbreak, many families have not been able to say goodbye to relatives as they would. In many communities, outside burial teams conduct the burial, and relatives are not able to wash and dress the body, and to hold the large gatherings that would usually be expected. 

"In the local Nande culture, planting trees and flowers on the graveside is common. A local organisation has been working with Ebola-affected families to recreate some of these practices in their homes, by planting trees and flowers dedicated to their loved ones."


Bereavement support

Advice on funerals

Create a Facebook page

Written by the Covid-19 Bereavement and Care of Relatives Workstream