Seeking a path through grief and social distancing
Grieving the loss of a loved one is difficult even in the most familiar of times. The death of Patrick Shannon this week has left us in shock and mourning. Now we must find ways to remember and honor his life as best we can while also bearing the burden of social distancing. Thank you for your patience and prayers as we navigate this uncharted territory.
Over the past week I have worked with Patrick’s family and Miles Funeral Service to find the best way to move forward, and we are in agreement on the plans detailed below.
The funeral will take place Monday, May 4 at 2 p.m. in the church sanctuary, and it will be open to the public. However, we’re implementing some strong social distancing measures for the safety of all attending and to remain in compliance with Governor Laura Kelly’s phased reopening plan.
On Monday the state of Kansas will be in Phase One of the reopening plan. This phase prohibits mass gatherings of more than 10 people. However, the plan defines mass gatherings as “instances in which individuals are in one location and are unable to maintain 6 feet of distance between individuals (not including individuals who reside together) with only infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity.” (p. 7 of Ad Astra: A Plan to Reopen Kansas).
This means that we can hold a funeral as long as those attending remain six feet away from anyone who does not live in the same household. Because of the size of our sanctuary, we can comply with this plan as long as we put into place the following social distancing measures:
An open casket viewing will be set up in the inner foyer, and only people living in the same household will be allowed in this designated space together. Please do not make physical contact with the casket.
Please refrain from making physical contact (handshakes, hugs, etc.) with anyone outside of your household.
There will be no designated greeting time with the family before and after the service.
Hand sanitizer stations will be available at all entrances.
Guests are encouraged to wear a mask that covers the nose and mouth.
Guests will be ushered to designated seating and must remain seated at least six feet from any other guest (not including individuals who reside together). Every other pew will be blocked off and remain empty. The remaining pews are each at least six feet apart.
Restroom use is discouraged. However, the restrooms will be available because the reopening plan allows for “infrequent or incidental moments of closer proximity.”
All four exits – including emergency exit doors – will be opened for use at the conclusion of the service.
An overflow area with the same social distancing measures will be available and equipped with live streaming of the service if our seating capacity in the sanctuary is exceeded.
The entire service will be streamed live online at our church website (winfieldnaz.org) and Facebook page (Facebook.com/winfieldnaz). Please use these online options if at all possible, especially if you have a compromised immune system or are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19. Also, if you are experiencing any symptoms of illness – even if you think it’s just allergies – PLEASE stay home and join the service online instead.
Keep in mind, an extended visitation time has been set up for Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at Miles Funeral Service. As for our regular Sunday morning worship services, we will continue to offer online-only services this Sunday (May 3), and our church board will discuss how we move forward later in the week.
These social distancing measures will only work with your cooperation. Thank you again for your patience and understanding. We are stronger and safer when we work together. May the Lord bless us with his strength and peace during these difficult times.
‘til the storm passes by,
Pastor Billy Byler