Can We Plan a Memorial for a Loved One Who Died Last Year?

It’s said the best resources for dealing with grief after a loved one dies are as follows: family, friends, and community. This last year, that kind of support wasn’t available to many in mourning. The ritual of gathering together for a funeral was dramatically affected by the pandemic, impacting the way families in New York and all over the world said goodbye to loved ones who have died.

At Woodlawn Cemetery, we saw the effects up close.

No more visitations where friends and family lined up to give hugs and handshakes.

No more public funerals, where anyone who knew the person who died could attend to cry and laugh and reminisce.

No more receptions to share memories and a meal.

Instead, many people grieved alone. Social distancing and ever-changing state mandates limited the number permitted at a gathering. Families weren’t sure when or how – of even if – they would pay tribute to their loved one who meant so much. The words, “A celebration of life will be held at a later date,” were featured in many obituaries.

Fast forward to today as most restrictions have been lifted, and families are wondering if they can still get together to have a funeral or memorial for their loved one who died months ago. The answer is a definite YES – and it’s something we feel strongly about for a number of reasons.

Why Have a Funeral?

We know how important it is to celebrate the life of a loved one, to gather, process the loss and lay a friend or family member one to rest. These are essential steps in the grief process for a number of reasons.

Funerals bring people together.

Seeing familiar faces, giving a hug or a pat on the back, talking about the loss – these simple actions provide immense healing. It’s all about knowing that others cared for the person who died – and care for those left behind.

Funerals help friends and family accept their loss.

Facing the reality of death and mourning in a safe and supportive environment is critical to the grieving process. Death is complex, and the emotions involved can be tough to navigate. A funeral is an opportunity to acknowledge the reality and finality of death. 

Funerals bring closure.

Funerals bring a sense of closure, as they allow loved ones to cry, reflect, and concentrate on feelings about death. The service is also a way to publicly express how much a person meant and how deeply they will be missed.

If your loved one died in 2020 or 2021, you can turn to us for assistance in planning a celebration of life and choose from a distinctive selection of options for a final resting place. One example is our granite, glass-front, and family niches, which create a meaningful tribute while families can enjoy a quiet, secure, climate-controlled, and comfortable atmosphere to pay their respects.

Remember that a funeral can be as special as your loved one. Whether traditional burial or cremation, you can hold the unforgettable farewell your loved one deserved. While some families choose to have memorial services at their local church or funeral home, others want to have the memorial or committal service at Woodlawn for convenience to the cemetery or crematory. For these families, The Woolworth Chapel is an ideal venue for gathering.

After such a challenging year, we want to be sure you receive the encouragement and help you need so you can say goodbye in a way that is meaningful to you.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help anytime.