A WHITEHAVEN celebrant is helping people to find ways to mourn the loss of their loved ones at a time when large gatherings are banned.

Valerie Marshall, of Lakes Ceremonies, has put together a list of ideas on how to support each other online after restrictions on funerals and other gatherings have been introduced.

She said: “In these unprecedented times, we are able to have graveside only services with severely restricted numbers ensuring social distancing.

“Our local crematorium is limiting services to 10 mourners, which allows for immediate family members only.”

Valerie’s suggestions to mourn the loss of a loved one at this time, include:

Using a virtual option to remember the person who has died

She said: “This can be their Facebook page, or, if someone in the family is able to you could make a new webpage.

“Keeping the person’s Facebook page as it was allows you to continue to interact with the person’s page, to leave messages for them, and you will still get birthday reminders or anniversary of your friendship celebrations in years to come if this is for you.

“On their Facebook page or the new webpage, you can leave messages, upload videos, songs, play music, leave virtual flowers, photos/videos of lit candles, poems, wishes, prayers, anything. It can be used now and in the future, whenever you miss them, on special occasions or at any time you choose.

You can receive messages by post or suggestions by phone from those who are offline and upload them, or you can print off a document of all the gathered material and mail it to them.”

Make a music playlist

Valerie said: “This could be used at an online funeral or memorial, or it could be played when you want to feel their memory around you. You could choose a platform with links which give you the option of adding the reasons why you chose the song and you can use it to share memories with each other.”

Create a shared photo album

“You can fill it will all the photos that each of you have of them, then maybe have a Zoom meeting and screen-share the album as you all share the memories and stories that accompany those photos. Those with original photos can send copies taken perhaps with their phones, and someone in the family can upload these copies to the album for them.”

Arrange to talk to each other often

Valerie said: “Make a time each day, or once a week, whatever suits, where someone agrees to perhaps open a Zoom, Google Meet or Skype virtual ‘room’, or a WhatsApp call, or even phone conference call. Whoever wants to show up to chat, shows up. “

Fix a time and everyone watch the person’s favourite movie or TV show.

“You can even message each other in a chat group as you watch if you like, or be on the phone. If they had a favourite band or artist, all watch a concert or live gig together, it will allow you to focus on them and their passions.”

You can make their favourite food

Valerie said: “Or some of you order it in – take outs and food delivery services are still working. Just all sit down to dinner at the same time in your own homes with their favourite food on the table. Maybe light a candle on each table. Eat, talk, laugh, cry, whatever, it’s all OK, just be there.”

Plan a celebration of life now or have a memorial at a later time.

“If everyone who wants to be at a funeral can’t attend because of the regulations, there are examples of people using Facebook or other media to record a service.”