Covid-19 has made it difficult for groups of people to come together in person and remember loved ones who have died, so hospices have turned to hosting virtual remembrance services.
Bolton Hospice recently held its very first virtual ‘A Time for Remembrance’ Service on Facebook. The hospice’s services are usually delivered three times a year at Bolton’s Claremont Church, delivered by Spiritual Care and Bereavement Support Lead John Hall.
Due to social distancing guidelines and the need for many of those that would usually plan to attend being required to shield, Bolton Hospice chose to utilise social media to connect with its community, filming readings of scriptures, poetry and music to create a moving and still very special service video for families who wished to remember their loved ones and watch along from home.
The service included music, words, prayers and readings from different faiths and traditions, poetry, images, an invitation to light a candle in memory, a moment of silence and some reflection. Although it is not the service the hospice had initially planned, the virtual alternative allowed more relatives and friends than ever to attend, as well as allowing people to re-watch and share with others – it’s had over 1,900 views to date, with many messages of support and loving dedications shared in the comments.
Hertfordshire’s Isabel Hospice is also planning to hold a virtual version of its annual Forget-Me-Not remembrance ceremony. Usually held at the Van Hage garden centre in Ware, this year the hospice will be streaming the service from their website.
Another key difference is that anyone is welcome to attend, not just people who have a connection to Isabel Hospice. The ceremony will include songs, poems read by the nursing staff and a celebration of those that are being remembered with introductions by Dr Helen Glenister, Isabel Hospice CEO, and Barbara Doherty, President of the hospice.
“In light of the coronavirus pandemic, this year we have opened our arms to all those that are bereaved, not only those who were cared for by the hospice” explains Heather West, the hospice’s Legacy and In-Memory Fundraising Manager. “We know how incredibly hard it is for families mourning the loss of a loved one at the moment, and want to let them know that our Family Support Team are able to help.”