Skip to content
social distancing at funerals

How to Hold a Funeral with Social Distancing?

With social distancing being encouraged throughout the U.S. and in many other countries, many people who have a loved one who has recently passed, or is about to pass, are wondering how they can hold a funeral or memorial service?  How can they honor a loved one and still involve family and friends?

Funerals with Social Distancing

social distancing funerals

There are many options available so families can take into account social distancing and still honor a loved one. Below we highlight some of the more common ways people do this.

Having a Funeral

If you prefer to still hold a funeral or memorial service with family and friends present, the best way to do this is to incorporate social distancing throughout the funeral service, especially if elderly people are present. Be sure not to shake hands or give hugs before, during, or after the service. Have hand sanitizer readily available for people to use and designate one person to write names of the attendees down in the guestbook (and avoid sharing the pen). Also, space chairs out in a way where there’s as much room as possible between each person attending. Another thing to consider is to limit who you invite – the less people present, the better.

Live Stream the Funeral

With video cameras readily available on cell phones and tablets, a funeral can be easily live streamed for all family and friends to see. You can stream to people through Facebook, on YouTube, or on other online services such as Alternatively, if you’re not tech-savvy, you can do a quick internet search to find a videographer in your area who could video the service for you and also present it live online. Another option is to ask your funeral director about live streaming options - many have relationships with videographers or other service providers in the area. If your family and friends aren’t too tech savvy and may find it to be a challenge to watch a live stream, you can always have the funeral recorded, then send them a link or a physical copy of the disk right after the funeral takes place.

A Viewing

If you want to have a viewing of the body after a loved one passes, you can still do this and incorporate social distancing. Simply have the number of people limited to one or only a select few who can visit at a time. That way, you can minimize the amount of close contact family and friends have with each other during the viewing.

Perform a Favorite Activity

An alternative to having a funeral is to plan to have all family and friends participate in a favorite activity of the loved one who passed either on their own or with only a few people present. This can include having everybody bake his or her favorite meal, take a hike, go on a bike ride, watch a favorite show or movie, among many other options. Alternatively, family members and friends can each choose a special activity they liked to do with the loved one who passed and then spend some time doing that activity. Share photos or videos among family and friends of everybody doing a special activity – this can make for a wonderful way to honor and reflect on a loved one.

Share Photos or Videos

A great way to remember and honor a loved one who passed in this time of social distancing is to collect videos and photos of them and post them on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or another social media site. On sites like Facebook, you can also create a private group where only family and friends are invited and can view the content posted. This can be a great way to remember and reflect on a loved one who passed.


If your loved one was passionate about a certain cause, in lieu of a funeral or flowers, you may ask family and friends to donate in their name to a certain organization that is involved with that cause. This can include an organization that is dedicated to finding a cure for cancer or other disease, helping children, providing food and shelter for the homeless, helping pets, etc.

Have the Funeral at a Later Date

If you want to have a funeral but are concerned that social distancing may be a challenge for you and family and friends who would be present, you can always choose to have the funeral on a future date. While it’s not possible to delay a viewing with the body, if that is something you want to have, you can still hold the viewing right after a loved one passes (with social distancing taken into account), then have the funeral at a later date. Family and friends will understand and appreciate that you’re considering their well being at such a challenging time.

Scattering Ashes

If your loved one was or will be cremated and there’s an interest in scattering their ashes, another option is to allow close family and friends to each scatter a portion of the ashes at a special place on their own or with only a few people present. Urns like the Eco Scattering Urn give you the ability to have a family member or friend scatter at one location, then re-secure the remaining ashes in the urn to do scatterings at other locations. If you’re using the same urn, just be sure to only touch the urn after washing your hands or use a sanitary wipe to clean the outside of the urn between scatterings. Alternatively, you or your funeral director can load multiple small scattering urns that can be divided up among family or friends, making it easy on everybody to scatter a portion of the ashes on their own at a special place.

Tree Memorials

Another popular option for people who choose to be cremated is to divide up their ashes into multiple Living Urn bio urns and planting systems. These give each family member or friend the ability to grow a living memory tree, plant, or rose bush from a biodegradable urn holding a portion of their loved one’s ashes. Each person, immediate family, or small group can choose to have their own small planting ceremony and honor the loved one who passed in their special way.

Multiple Options

During this time of social distancing, many families will commonly choose to honor a loved one by doing more than one of the options above. This can include holding a funeral with only immediate family present, then live stream the funeral service to all other family and friends. Or, it can include doing a funeral that’s live streamed to family and friends, then have everybody go out and do a favorite activity of the loved one who passed, among many other options.

Previous article Pet Cremation Stones: Why They're a Good Option