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Attending Funerals During a Pandemic



"One of my father’s friends just passed away, and he really wants to go to the funeral. Dad is mid 80s and I don’t think he should go. They do have an online option, and I’m pushing for that, but he wants to go in person. He’s old school and wants to be there for his friend and his friend’s wife. It has become quite the discussion in the last week. Unfortunately, my siblings think dad should go, so it’s one against many.

How does one pay their respects during a pandemic like this?"



As you are well aware, any gathering of individuals right now is a risky situation, especially the elderly.  You are correct that the safest option is for your father to stay home and provide support without being physically present. 

I do understand the desire to attend a funeral for a close friend. The pull must be very strong to be supportive and to say goodbye to an old friend. If your father is determined to go and is not going to be talked into an online solution, then it’s time to help him take the steps to attend this funeral as safely as possible.

I recommend the following steps:

  1. Plan to escort your father to this funeral. The only way to monitor his actions is to be present the entire time.
  2. Agree that you’ll both wear masks at all times and keep six feet or more between you and all others for the entire funeral.
  3. Secure and wear an N95 mask, commonly called a respirator. These masks filter 95% of virus particles and provide the maximum protection in a mask. Learn how to one properly on your face and how to remove it without contamination. (The internet will be your source for technique).
  4. Wear glasses to the funeral.
  5. Agree not to touch your faces, not even once, from start to finish during this funeral. Do not touch another human being. Stand away from the crowd at all times. 
  6. Avoid touching door knobs or other hardware.
  7. Spend just enough time to express condolences, and then depart.
  8. Remove your masks when you get home. Wash your glasses with soap and water. Carefully wash your hands for 20 seconds.
  9. Let your masks sit for two days in a cool dry place. Store them for your next journey.

While there is no guarantee that you will be safe, extreme caution can decrease his risk level dramatically.

I wish you a safe journey with dad.