Funeral services through the Coronavirus pandemic

Caring for the living and the dead through the Coronavirus pandemic.

Who can go to a funeral?

From 23 October 2020 funerals can be attended by up to 30 people (dependent on the size of the venue) and can be anyone who wishes to attend, however it is advised that attendees are close friends and family only. 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 isolated by NHS Test & Trace 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.

How many people can attend a funeral service?

Up to 30 people may attend a funeral in a place of worship (for example a church prior to burial or cremation elsewhere). For funerals held inside or outside at a crematorium or a cemetery the maximum number is 30 however the crematorium or cemetery operator will set a limit defined by the size of the venue and social distancing requirements (2 metres). Where the funeral is held in a place of worship and is to be part of communal worship the maximum number of attendees is subject to the number that can be safely accommodated under social distancing guidelines and not restricted to 30. It is advised that attendees are close friends and family only. Our funeral director will be able to provide you with full details according to the practices of the ceremony venue that you have selected.

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

Under the Tier 4 restrictions up to 6 people can gather before or after the funeral service for wakes and other ceremonial events linked to the funeral (ritual washing, ashes interments and so on). For larger gatherings, we have developed some suggestions and ideas on how to hold a virtual post-funeral wake on our 'Hosting a virtual funeral reception' blog. Many families are also choosing to wait to hold a memorial service when we are in a position to have more people 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 the opportunity to speak, reflect or play music still remains. Sadly congregational singing is not allowed. You can enable people to listen to music and readings that reflect the life of the deceased. Some crematoria have the facility to show video recordings during the service. 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.

Can friends and family members carry the coffin?

Policies on this vary across the various churches, cemeteries and crematoria we work with. They each set their own policy which we must follow. 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. Our 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 it be different from usual?

We will do all we can to ensure that funeral arrangements are able to continue as seamlessly as possible. The most noticeable difference is likely to be the spacing of pews/chairs in the crematorium chapel, place of worship or other funeral venue during the ceremony. You will be requested to refrain from contact with family/friends who are not resident in your own household and wear a face covering throughout the service unless you’re giving a reading or wearing the face covering is causing you distress. Congregational singing isn’t advised although you can still hire a professional singer or small choir to perform during the ceremony. 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 to create a virtual post-funeral gathering?

Whilst physical gatherings of people are postponed at the moment, we have created some guidance on how you can hold a virtual funeral reception following a funeral service, giving those unable to attend 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.

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