One of the most difficult, and least discussed, side effects of the current pandemic is the inability of friends and families to gather together and mourn the loss of a loved one. Our current social distancing and gathering rules are forcing many families to forego paying final respects after someone has died.
“Putting closure on a death, and respectfully gathering to mark someone’s passing is an innate human tradition,” said Rev. Brady McDaniels, DD, Coordinator of Spiritual Care at Deborah Heart and Lung Center, New Jersey’s only specialty heart, lung and vascular hospital, and an Alliance Partner of the Cleveland Clinic Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute.
“With very few exceptions in our collective history can I think of a time when people did not gather to remember their dead, and the rite of passage in leaving this life. For the mourners it serves as a critical link in their grieving process, and the bringing together of family and friends to honor a loved one’s memory is a cathartic bridge to future healing.”
With this in mind, Dr. McDaniels has created a virtual memorial service for those in need. The half-an-hour candlelight, non-denominational video, recreates a memorial service with an opening passage, musical selections, an ecumenical eulogy, and a periodic chime for viewers to insert the name of their loved one.
“We have lost thousands of people in a very short period of time from coronavirus,” noted Dr. McDaniels, “and added to that are those who have passed away from other causes. All of these families are caught in the same bind with no way to gather together with loved ones to share communally in their grief, and to remember the richly lived lives of their loved ones.”
“I cannot think of a more difficult human condition right now. One of our most basic, and vital, cultural traditions has been paused. I wanted to find a way to bring a memorial service to families, so that even virtually they can share with others and join in a formal ceremony together. Although many families are planning to defer a ‘celebration of life’ to the future, there is still the present…the pain and grief of bereavement that has to be addressed now. It is my hope that this will be one way to fill that void.”
Dr. McDaniels, who holds his divinity degree from Freedom Bible College and Seminary, is a New Jersey licensed child and family therapist, certified in complex trauma and complicated grief. He has been a child and family therapist, spiritual counselor, and a hospice bereavement coordinator specializing in grief and trauma for over 25 years.
The Virtual Memorial can be found online at Virtual Memorial Service. For any questions, comments, or concerns, you can reach Rev. Brady McDaniels, DD at 848-241-2959.