Graveside services are one aspect of traditional funerals. At the graveside, family and friends have one more opportunity to acknowledge that a death has occurred and begin the journey of saying goodbye.

A final resting place also creates a sense of location for remaining connected. Many people take great comfort in visiting the gravesite of their beloved.

Funeral directors are an excellent resource for helping you and your family understand the elements of a graveside service and what might be appropriate. In today’s funeral circumstances, funeral directors can also help clarify any concerns about social distancing and mask wearing.

For example, traditionally seating has been provided for immediate family. Many immediate family members have already been together in the last days of their loved one’s life. Family members can choose whatever is appropriate for their individual family when it comes to seating; chairs can be arranged as they traditionally have or can be spaced further apart to include safe distances from one another. Etiquette suggests that seating under a small tent should be occupied first by immediate family members and those needing the support of a place to sit. Weather permitting, others have chosen not to sit but to stand at a social distance from one another. And in both situations, the wearing of masks has become a standard practice for protecting everyone’s health.

Beyond these aspects of a graveside service, funeral directors and officiants are finding creative ways to support mourning family and friends, which may include elements such as reading of scripture, poetry and, where appropriate, a military honor guard.

Because singing has been identified as a higher risk for the spread of COVID, participants are encouraged to consider the health of those attending the graveside service when deciding whether this element will occur. Still, music can be a comforting part of the service with the use of Bluetooth technologies. Bluetooth speakers are so small and portable now that family members can share and listen to favorite music that offers connection to their loved one as well as comforting support.

Families working with funeral directors have also found other ways to bring out their loved one’s life at the graveside. For instance, one family knew that their loved one really enjoyed sparklers. So, as part of the graveside goodbye, participants received and then passed the “light” through lit sparklers around the graveside. Another family had a cooler with the family member’s favorite soda in small cans — there was a toast and then everyone attending left with a sweet sip of the life the person loved. Also, favorite candies can be shared among the attendees.

With the help and support of the funeral directors at the graveside, family members may choose to toss roses into the grave along with their loved one’s casket. Often these flowers come from the large spray that has been on the casket. Or the family may offer participants the chance to choose and take home a flower from the spray as a keepsake of the events of the day. And, there are often creative solutions that come from families themselves — based on what they know, honor, and remember about the one who has died.

Local funeral home director Rob Loose’s column runs the first Saturday of each month. Contact him at

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