Funerals and Services
G Sakamoto

One of the most important service a family observes is a funeral for a family member or a friend. Whether a small gathering of immediate family members or a gathering of hundreds of community friends the funeral service acknowledges the importance that a person’s life continues to have in the lives of others. To consider a remote funeral service may feel somehow small and unrepresentative of the importance of that person’s life. In this time the alternative is to wait. It does not matter how long after a person’s death a funeral service is conducted. It does not matter if remains are present or not. However, as time under covid-19 continues to draw out the feeling of unsettledness may deepen.

If you wish to consider a remote funeral service or a remote memorial service please let us know. A remote funeral may be observed now and when we are able to gather together again a service that brings people together can be observed. With funerals and memorial services people who would not have been able to participate may be able to join remotely. If we consider carefully we might see benefits that were not obvious at first. In the future in person service combined with remote participation will probably continue to be a part of how we conduct services.

As our efforts to stay safe and prevent the transmission of the coronavirus continues, we have adapted and deepened our understanding how to protect others and ourselves. Our behavior is guided by reason, observation and understanding.

During the last few weeks we have not conducted any in person services in the Hondo and the Nokotsudo. These restrictions are based on our understanding of circumstances that have guided our decisions. To gather together would provide the opportunity for the virus to spread and possibly cause great harm to others. And so with concern for the welfare of others we continue to acknowledge the importance of following best practices.

Until we know it is safe to gather together we will follow the recommendations that keep us all safe. This does not mean we need to stop what we have been doing before. We have embraced some technology as a means to continue to deepen our appreciation of the Buddhadharma. Our weekly Sunday services are not without failure. Our Gotan’e and Infant Presentation service did not go well. We will learn from our missteps and move forward. There are plans to expand our internet offerings and make the experience we offer more robust.

We’ve ventured into observing family services remotely. Not too long ago we conducted our first remote memorial service. Since then we conducted remotely the Memorial Day services at Mt Hope Cemetery in Morgan Hill, Gavilan Cemetery in Gilroy and the Memorial Day service at the Oak Hill cemetery. That was not presented without problems. People who came late were unable to attend because of security measures. To avoid this in the future we need to present all remote services with a host and a co-host. The co-host would be responsible to monitor and make decisions during the service while the host is free to focus on conducting the service.

As the restrictions on gatherings continue and our understanding and capability of conducting remote services improve we will expand our scheduling to include remote services.

We encourage everyone to stay safe and stay connected. Buddhism reminds us that all things change. And we adapt and find meaning in the new ways we express our gratitude.