The Grief Journey: What Happens Next?

End of Life Planning, Events & Memorials Face Paradigm Shift

By Michael Schimmel, CEO of Sympathy Brands, Parent Company to Cemetery.com, eCondolence.com and shiva.com.

Out of the necessity brought on by the pandemic, everything from the economics of funerals to the way people attend and approach memorials and celebrations has shifted. Travel was halted. Size and space restrictions led to the adoption and widespread use of virtual meetings, funeral services and gatherings. Many families cancelled or postponed memorial services, altering the traditional grieving process that generally allows for physical and emotional support following a passing. This stunting of the grief process impacts mental health and personal wellness.

Individuals that have internalized grief for an extended period of time may be eager to mourn more fully together with loved ones. Alternatively, certain individuals who were unable to grieve at the time of loss may find it more challenging to now engage with others as so much time has passed without satisfactorily mourning their loved one. Death care professionals understand that although the grief may not be as raw or emotional, it is still very real and present. Grief is a journey requiring compassion, care and support throughout regardless of when, where and how an individual or family navigates the process.

Regardless of proximity to the passing of a loved one, conducting a memorial can be an important step in the grieving process that helps individuals to find solace and closure for a loss.

Over the coming year, expect families and friends to join together both in person and virtually to share stories and memories to memorialize a loved one. Though in-person gatherings have traditionally provided this forum, the introduction and acceptance of virtual technology now allows for additional family members to “be there” and participate.

While the past year may not have allowed for traditional services and memorialization, we are beginning to see expanded gatherings. Memorial services will be prevalent in 2022, providing mourners a way to honor and commemorate loved ones with the comfort of family and friends, which is an opportunity many did not have over the past year. This year, expect to see large numbers of enhanced and evolved memorials as the industry and people are both embracing the newfound ways to honor special lives and navigate through the grieving process.


Michael Schimmel is founder and CEO of Sympathy Brands, parent company to eCondolence.com, shiva.com and Cemetery.com that connects families and funeral homes through the stages of planning, service, and aftercare with its consumer brands, proprietary Viewneral® technology, and nationwide concierge services. The companies provide a modern approach to end-of-life matters.

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