CPJ Field funerals during the pandemic

Arranging a funeral during covid-19

Losing a loved one is a heart wrenching time for anyone.

As human beings we have a deep need to care for our dead. We need time and space to grieve. We need the love and support of each other. In times acute loss - a personal and relevant funeral experience can be of great comfort.

This is why the government have singled out funerals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We will do all we can to care for you, your family and your loved one through this difficult time – as well as doing all we can to help everyone stay safe.


Summary of current guidance

  • If youd like to come in and see us you can. Please call to make an appointment and keep it to 1 or 2 people (where possible) and we ask that you wear a face covering when visiting our funeral homes, you respect the 2m social distancing guidelines where possible and use the hand sanitiser provided.
  • If youd rather stay in your own home we can organise a home visit so long as there is sufficient space to allow for social distancing and you’re comfortable with it. This is subject to constant review and may change as government guidance changes. Alternatively we can organise a video call via Zoom or we can just talk on the phone.
  • All of the paperwork can be sorted out electronically and we’ll help with that.
  • If youd like to come and see your loved one you can. Let us know in advance and please keep it to 1 or 2 people (where possible) at a time.
  • We continue to ensure that every deceased person in our care is afforded every dignity including washing and dressing in their own clothes as required.
  • We offer a wide range of coffins from traditional wood to willow and beyond.
  • If youd like the funeral cars to come to your home before the funeral or take a special route to the venue we can. Maybe you’d like to use a special vehicle, horse drawn hearse for example, we can make that happen.
  • Funerals are exempt from any restrictions on gatherings and there is no limit on the number of mourners that can attend the funeral. In practice numbers may be limited by the COVID-19 secure policies of the venues we work with. Ask us about the rules at the cemetery or crematorium you’re thinking of using as they do vary. Some venues may strongly encourage the use of face coverings and observance of 2m distancing when inside.
  • If youd like us to stream or record the funeral service for others to see we can.
  • It's important to support each other after a funeral. We can organise an ashes scattering, ashes internment or stone setting for you after the funeral. The rules on face coverings don’t apply in hospitality settings so we can organise for a reception to be held after a funeral although if you prefer we can help you sort out a virtual reception after the funeral using Zoom. It's not a hug but it is one way to be with friends and family when you need them most.
  • If you’re organising a remembrance event now the restrictions on gatherings are lifted we can help. Find more advice here.
  • Whether you want to sort a headstone for a grave, scattering ashes or a choose a special memorial keepsake to remember someone by we can help.

Getting in contact during the pandemic

  • How do I find a funeral home near me?

    The addresses and locations of all our funeral homes are on our Locations page.

  • What do I need to do register the death?

    Make an appointment with the Registrar (online or over the phone) and they will call you back. It should be possible to register the death over the phone. We can advise you on the death certification and registration requirements. The relevant paperwork will be sent direct to the registrar via email. Find a register office here.

  • How can I find out about the services you offer?

    The best thing to do is talk to us. We answer the phone any time of day or night. If you prefer to do your own research then a full list of the services that we provide are available to view in the Funeral Planning section of our website.

  • Can I arrange a funeral?

    All our funeral homes are open. If you are unable to come and see us we can arrange a home visit with suitable precautions. Alternatively we can use phone or video call if you’d feel safer.

  • What if I’m self-isolating?

    We can make funeral arrangements over the phone, or online via video call. We can also arrange for funerals to be streamed online. If you’re waiting for test results or have tested positive you can leave isolation to attend the funeral. You are strongly advised not to particularly thinking about the risk to other mourners who may be vulnerable. If you do please let us know so that we can make appropriate arrangements. You will need to wear a type IIr face mask (available from pharmacies and other high street shops). A non-surgical face covering is not sufficient. Unfortunately you must make the arrangements without leaving isolation. Please call for more details.

  • What if my local funeral home has closed?

    Our services are available 24/7, if for whatever reason your local funeral home is closed, please call our number and one of our trained funeral professionals will help you.

  • What to do if someone dies abroad?

    We have specialist colleagues who support families that have lost loved ones overseas or away from home. They will work with your local funeral home to help you bring your loved one home.

Caring for your loved one

  • How will the person who has died be cared for?

    We will care for your loved one as if they were a member of our own family. Regardless of the circumstance of their death, we will care for them with dignity and respect. We will collect them from the place of death and bring them into our care. They will remain in our care as we prepare them for their funeral ceremony by washing, embalming (if you have given permission) and dressing them, and placing them in their coffin. If your loved one had, or is believed to have had a COVID-19 infection, we will need to take some special precautionary measures however we continue to provide embalming and dress deceased people in their own clothes if you would like us to do so. Our funeral director will confirm with you when arrangements are made.

  • Can I visit my loved one?

    Yes, although you must first ring to arrange a time with our funeral home. We still encourage visitors to keep to the 2m distancing guidance and in most of our locations we ask generally that numbers are kept to two or three people visiting at a time. If you have symptoms or should be isolating, sadly we ask that you don’t come in. We will ask you to wear a face covering and use the hand sanitiser provided.

  • Can I visit the cemetery or memorial site?

    You can. Government guidelines on the use of public spaces apply. Guidelines on gatherings apply. For more information head to: gov.uk/coronavirus

  • Can one catch COVID-19 from a deceased person?

    You are most unlikely to catch COVID-19 from a dead person – however the Public Health England guidance respectfully requests that you do not touch the person who has died if they had tested positive for the virus before they died or are believed to have the virus.

  • What safety measures are there?

    We apply a series of measures to provide a safe environment for you and our colleagues. You can find our rules for visiting our funeral homes here or in the window of your local funeral home. We provide hand-washing facilities and hand sanitiser, as well as a ready supply of tissues. You can find our COVID Secure risk assessments for our funeral homes here. It includes simple actions such as - asking that only two people come into the funeral home at a time for any purpose. When visiting the person who has died, we respectfully request that you refrain from direct contact with the deceased person. Finally, we request that all guests to our visiting rooms wash their hands prior to leaving or moving to another room.

    We will be keeping shaking hands, hugging or putting a hand on your shoulder to offer comfort to a minimum. The time for that will come again. Until then please try to maintain 2m distance at all times and wear face coverings. These precautions are in place to keep you safe as well as us.

Making funeral arrangements

  • Can I still have a funeral?

    Yes, the Government have explicitly allowed funerals to continue. There is currently no restriction on the number of mourners that people can attend a funeral wherever is it held indoors or outdoors. In practice there are limits set by COVID-19 secure policy of each venue by some venue owners (ceremony rooms, churches, cemeteries and crematoria we work with) according to the size and situation of their venue. Give us a call and we can confirm what the local arrangements are.

  • Can I still go to church?

    Yes, the number of mourners who may attend maybe restricted by COVID-19 secure guidelines where the maximum number of attendees may be defined by the capacity of the place of worship. Not all churches have reopened yet. We are in contact with local faith leaders and can let you know what’s going on local to you.

  • Planning the funeral?

    Although this will be difficult for everyone, funeral numbers remain modest. We’re delighted that congregational singing is once again allowed during a ceremony held indoors. Professional vocal or instrumental contributions can take place, either indoors or outdoors. In most venues we are able to provide recorded music, photo tributes and the option for mourners to participate in the services with readings and eulogies remains. Some venues will allow us to make arrangements for performance by professional singers or musicians. Spoken addresses and responses during a ceremony are once again a feature of funeral ceremonies. You can remove your face covering to deliver an address or reading. You should replace it before returning to your seat.

  • How else can people take part?

    It’s really important that mourners who are legally required to isolate and others unable to attend the funeral are given the opportunity to attend the funeral ceremony remotely. Most crematoria offer live streaming options (for a fee). For other venues we can organise to stream the ceremony using Zoom (depending on mobile phone coverage) or we can record the funeral for you to share or watch later. We can support someone else present to stream the ceremony using their own device. For a more professional approach we can arrange for a professional video company to stream and record the ceremony for a fee. We can also provide virtual attendees a digital copy of the order of service to follow during the ceremony.

  • Is a post-funeral gathering allowed?

    Yes, from 19 July there are no restrictions on gathering before or after the funeral service for receptions, wakes and other ceremonial events linked to the funeral. This is applies whether that event takes place in an indoor or outdoor setting.

    In order for you to hold a gathering that includes people who haven’t been able to make the journey, we have created some guidance on how you can hold a virtual funeral reception following a funeral service. It will also be possible to hold a memorial service, post-funeral gathering or wake at a later date, further advice on this can be found here.

  • Can I still choose a coffin?

    At the present time, we are still able to provide a full range of coffin choices. As the majority of our coffins are made to order - restrictions may be applied according to availability. You can find our brochure here CPJ Field coffins.

  • Will cremations become mandatory?

    No. The government has taken steps to ensure that specific preferences that relate to religious belief are respected in particular relation to the requirement for burial over cremation.

  • Could the funeral be delayed?

    There should be no reason to delay the funeral beyond the availability of the cemetery or crematorium to accommodate a service. Government advice remains that it is important funerals are not delayed.

    At the present time, we are not experiencing any significant delays to funerals. Our advice remains that it is best to make decisions based on the restrictions as they are currently rather than what they may be in future and recommend organising a private funeral attended by the number allowed. Then plan to hold an event (memorial service for example) when the restrictions are eased enough to allow the size of gathering you want. Our funeral director will provide you with further advice and guidance.

  • What if my Funeral Director has to close?

    We are a longstanding family business with a number of funeral homes. In the event that our funeral home local to you has to close temporarily, we will ensure that you are provided with continuity of care through a named funeral director during that period of closure. A temporary closure of a funeral home will not adversely impact our ability to deliver funeral ceremonies or services.

The funeral

  • Who can go to a funeral?

    From 19 July 2021 the formal cap on the number of attendees at a funeral has been lifted (although this may be limited dependent on the size of the venue you choose to hold the ceremony) and can be anyone who wishes to attend. Clinically vulnerable and extremely vulnerable people can attend if some special measures are put in place. Please notify us if this necessary. Close family members of the deceased person who have been told they must isolate can legally leave isolation to attend the funeral. You are strongly recommended to find other ways to participate in the funeral (via video link for example) but if you decide to attend let us know so we can take the necessary steps to keep you and others as safe as possible. Consideration should be given to other vulnerable mourners who may be attending in these circumstances. Sadly, some venues will not allow people who have tested positive for COVID—19, are awaiting test results or experiencing symptoms of coronavirus (a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell) to attend. Please check with us for local policies.

    Individuals quarantining at home following their return to England from overseas may leave quarantine to attend the funeral of a close family member or a member of their household but should take a lateral flow test in the 24 hours before the service. Individuals in managed quarantine (following arrival in England having been in or through a red list travel ban country) may (before the 10-day period since arrival is completed) request to attend the funeral of a close family member or a member of their household. Those who test positive during their quarantine period are strongly advised not to attend a funeral in person and attend virtually where possible, due to the risk they pose to others.

  • How many people can attend a funeral service?

    The number of mourners who can attend a funeral service is limited only by the COVID-19 secure policy of the venue used to host the funeral whether indoors or outdoors. We will be able to advise you on the maximum permitted number for a given place of worship or other funeral venue.

  • How many people can attend a post funeral wake or memorial?

    From 19 July 2021 there is no limit to the number that can gather before or after the funeral service for a reception, wake and other ceremonial events linked to the funeral (ritual washing, ashes interments and so on).

    For gatherings including people who haven’t been able to travel, we have developed some suggestions and ideas on how to hold a virtual post-funeral wake on our 'Hosting a virtual funeral reception' guide. Many families are also choosing to hold a memorial service when we they are in a position to have more people important to them at the gathering. Our funeral director will be able to advise on available options.

  • How can other people take part?

    There are a number of ways in which people can take part. For immediate family and friends the opportunity to speak, reflect or play music still remains. You can listen to music (live or recorded) and individuals can give readings or read tributes out that reflect the life of the person who has died. Some crematoria (and other funeral venues) have the facility to show video recordings during the service if not we can organise this for you. For remote participation many venues offer streaming services to enable those unable to attend in person, the opportunity to take part virtually. Where this is not offered by the venue we can organise to stream the funeral using Zoom if you wish or record the service for you to watch later.

    It is possible for those not attending the ceremony to line the route of the funeral procession as it passes by and show their respects to the person who has died and support for those that are mourning them.

    Using the message boards on our condolence pages to share words of support for family, friends and others mourning the loss of someone they love.

  • Can friends and family members carry the coffin?

    Where the venue allows it we will facilitate for friends and family members to carry the coffin at the funeral ceremony. It’s best to ask your funeral director what the policy is at your chosen funeral venue.

  • What if my crematorium has to close?

    The government has advised that funeral services should continue and has requested that local authorities consider how they can facilitate this. Crematoria have taken steps to manage the pressure they experienced in the first wave of the virus. This ensured that wait times for services was kept (on the whole) to a reasonable level and none of our partner crematoria had to close. Your funeral director will be able to advise on the available choices during the arrangement.

  • If I have to cancel will I get a refund?

    All funeral arrangements made outside of our funeral homes are subject to a 14 day ‘cooling off’ period. As such if you have to cancel an arrangement, you are entitled to a refund except for those unavoidable costs that we have had to incur in the process of the arrangement up until that point. Our full Terms and Conditions of Service are available for review on our website.

  • How will the funeral be different from usual?

    In many ways the funeral will be just as personal and appropriate to the person who has died as ever. Funerals are about the things we say and feel about the deceased person. We will do all we can to ensure that funeral arrangements are able to continue as seamlessly and normally as possible. The most noticeable difference was to the number of people who are able to be with you on the day. Whilst we found that the reduced numbers give a gathering quite an intimate feel it is wonderful to see so many people choosing to be together to support one another in their grief again. Some venues still have measures in place so when you enter the venue the spacing of pews/chairs in the crematorium chapel, place of worship or other funeral venue during the ceremony may look a little odd. In some situations you will be requested to wear a face covering throughout the service unless you’re giving a reading or wearing the face covering is causing you distress. Congregational singing is once again allowed although you can still hire a professional singer to perform during the ceremony if you’d prefer. Individual ceremony venues have applied their own measures (such as temporary closure of some facilities such as toilets). Our funeral director will be able to explain these during the arrangement. Many ceremonies are offering streaming services to enable wider family/friends to join the funeral ceremony virtually. Where this is not offered by the venue we can organise to stream the funeral using Zoom if you wish. Some funeral ceremony venues have shortened their service times to allow for cleaning between services. Our funeral director will be able to advise on the specific measures in place at the venue you choose.

  • How do I create a virtual post-funeral gathering?

    We can hold gatherings for unlimited numbers of people this may not be everyone that attended the funeral especially those who attend online so we have created some guidance on how you can hold a virtual funeral reception following a funeral service, giving those unable to attend the reception in person the opportunity to take part. It will also be possible to hold a memorial service, gathering or wake at a later date, further advice on this can be found here.

Ongoing care

  • Is there anyone to talk to?

    Yes, our funeral home colleagues are available to you by phone whenever you need us. If you would like to speak to a counsellor or bereavement specialist, we can provide you with details for suitable contacts.

  • How else do we stay in touch?

    Our Community Champions are working hard to find innovative ways to enable keeping in touch. Please check our community support pages for details of our events here. Where possible we’ve moved events online so we can keep offering support using video calling services (Zoom is our preferred options but we can use others), please let us know if you would like to be included in our activities.

  • Sources of local support?

    We will be able to put you touch with local support groups, activities, DWP social fund, food banks and so on. You can find your local branch of Cruse bereavement care here.

  • What if I think I’ve caught the virus?

    You must follow the Government advice, available at: gov.uk/coronavirus

    If this is after attending a funeral you should notify the person who arranged the funeral that they maybe contacted by NHS Test and Trace for details of anyone else that attended with you.

    If you develop symptoms within 7 days of attending a funeral ceremony or visiting one of our funeral homes please let us know.

  • Wider family, friends and the community?

    You can create virtual opportunities where people can express their condolences, post memories, tell stories and post messages and tribute videos on our website CPJ Field condolence pages - or send food, flowers or gifts to family members to let them know you’re thinking of them.

  • What if I’m struggling to pay?

    We understand that this is an uncertain time. Our final account will be raised and sent to you seven days after the day of the funeral. Our funeral director is always available to talk to. We review all requests to review payment terms on a case by case basis. If you’re eligible to make a claim for the DWP’s Funeral Expenses Payment we can help with your application.

  • When can I properly celebrate their life?

    Now that the all the current restrictions have been lifted from 19 July 2021 although some reduced capacity may remain if COVID-secure guidelines for safety in venues remain in place. Until the limits are completely lifted our funeral director will be able to give advice and guidance on how to create a meaningful memorial service when circumstances allow.

    For larger remembrance events or memorial services as soon as the sort of gathering that you want to organise is a realistic prospect we’ll get in touch so that we can help you make the most of opportunities to reconnect with your loved ones in future and share memories of the person who has died.

Health & safety through the pandemic