COVID-19 information regarding arrangement and services

We know a lot of our clients will have questions relating to the current COVID-19 outbreak. As the situation is constantly moving, if you have any concerns, please contact your nearest funeral branch. Our colleagues will be on hand to answer your questions and find out further information for you.

We want to make you aware that at the moment, a number of venue providers are putting temporary restrictions in place which are beyond our control (e.g. a limit to the number of guests at churches, community halls and crematoria). We are doing our best to make this clear to clients at the time of booking, but the situation is changing rapidly. With more restrictions anticipated in the weeks ahead, we will be doing everything we can to support families.

All appointments with our funeral colleagues are being carried out over the phone – colleagues will still be working in branch but any visits should be pre-arranged. This step has been taken in order to prevent the further spread of infection.

It’s important that we take every possible step to protect the wellbeing of our clients, colleagues and communities, whilst respecting the dignity of the deceased.

Thank you for your understanding.

Funeral FAQ’s during COVID-19

Correct & update at 15th July 2020

Can I still arrange a funeral and what if I am self-isolating?

Yes, all our funeral arrangements are currently now being made by telephone and can easily be arranged if you are self isolating. 

Can we still choose between burial and cremation?

Yes, burial and cremation are both still options and this remains a matter of individual choice. This is particularly important for some faith communities.

Are funeral times and days changing?

Timings will vary from location to location depending upon the facilities and staff available. It is best to talk to us to find out the situation at your chosen crematorium or cemetery.

How many people can attend a funeral?

No specific number has been set by the Government, however each service location etc will have stipulated what they will accept and each is different.

Who can attend a funeral?

Government guidance is changing all the time so please check with your funeral home regarding the current restrictions on who and how many can attend.

Why aren’t funerals banned to avoid any risk of infection?

Witnessing the funeral of a loved one plays an important role in helping bereaved families move through the grieving process and not being able to attend can have an impact on long term health and wellbeing. The Government has made it clear that it wants bereaved people to still have that opportunity so gatherings for funerals can continue - but only if they take place within strict social distancing guidelines and through the limiting of numbers attending. Witnessing a funeral can’t be deferred and there is no opportunity to repeat it again in the future. Therefore, being there in person, even if a much smaller group than the family would have wanted, remains an important choice that families must be free to make for as long as possible. While an outright ban might seem like a more straightforward solution, there is real risk of this having serious unintended consequences for the bereaved family. It may be that the family themselves decide that they do not wish to attend, but it is not for us to deny families that opportunity if there is no reason to do so within the government’s guidelines. The important thing is to get the balance right to ensure mourners and funeral, crematorium and cemetery employees are not put at greater risk of infection.

Why are there so many restrictions on how many people can attend a funeral?

We remain absolutely committed to supporting all bereaved people at this difficult time, but are rightly concerned about increasing the risk of infection to both mourners  (in particular those at-risk) and to all those in key worker roles. Like supermarket workers and other essential services, funeral workers have a vitally important and sensitive job to do and it is critical they are able to do so safely, by being able to stay within the social distancing rules. The majority of bereaved families are doing their best to adapt their expectations and plans in line with the advice that we are currently providing and we are grateful to you for this. Ensuring funerals remain within the social distancing guidelines is a responsibility we all need to share. We need the public to support funeral/crematoria and cemetery workers in the important work they do by limiting numbers to the smallest group possible, and help support their level of exposure to COVID-19 by making sure additional mourners are not invited to come on the day. We know this is incredibly hard, but it is absolutely critical that key workers aren’t put at risk while trying to carry out the Government’s instructions.

Is there a difference between funerals for those who pass away with COVID-19, as opposed to other causes?

The guidelines for funerals are designed to minimise the risk of transmission between mourners and to key workers (including funeral, cemetery and crematorium staff). It is important to note that all funeral firms have their own policies. Please also be aware that the policies of crematoria and other venues may vary too, not only in terms of numbers permitted to attend but other small important variations, like whether it’s possible to leave the curtains open, or whether family are permitted to carry the coffin.

How long will the delay be between death and the funeral?

The time between death and the funeral will vary according to available times with the chosen venue, minister or celebrant and other individual considerations. In line with the current government guidance to not delay funerals, you will be given the earliest time available taking in to consideration any dates you wish to avoid. The process for registering a death has changed under the Coronavirus Act, and documentation can now be submitted digitally. This should make the process quicker and easier for bereaved people and be more streamlined. The time between the death and a funeral will also be dependent on the cause of death and whether the death is referred to the coroner. Coroner’s procedures remain in place for sudden or unexpected deaths, where something other than COVID-19 is the cause of death - all of the usual arrangements are in place for that. In addition, with fewer people attending funerals there is less need for people to wait for a convenient time for others to travel to the funeral.

Can I visit the person that has died in a Chapel of Rest?

This is discouraged, however should you wish to view the deceased person by visiting the Chapel of Rest, this is by strict appointment only. Please contact your funeral home for advice on any restrictions currently in place.

Can we use a limousine?

Limousines are available but restrictions on who can travel in them may be in place based on the latest government guidance so please speak to your funeral co-ordinator for the most up to date information.

What do I tell other family members or friends, who want to pay their respects or feel involved in the funeral?

We understand how hard this is for families. There are a number of options that could be considered. This might range from having an online gathering at the time of the funeral through various digital platforms, where you can share stories, light candles and play music. Please ask us about the possibility of live-streaming or recording the service, which in some locations can still be arranged. On our on-line tribute and donation site www.Funeralcare.co.uk you are able to share stories, messages and photographs and leave donations. Your plans may also include holding a memorial service or celebration of life – at a preferred place of worship or home, once social distancing rules become relaxed. We will work to support families to find the right solutions for them. In some cases there will be no cost, in other cases there may be - so the advice is to talk it through with us.

What do I tell people who still say they would like to attend?

We appreciate how hard this is, but it is important that you explain to them that large gatherings are simply not permitted under current social distancing measures. Please don’t publicly advertise the funeral details to reduce the risk of other, well-meaning mourners arriving unexpectedly. They may be turned away at the door, which could be distressing for them and the bereaved family. It will also place funeral key workers at unnecessary risk.

What will happen during the service?

During the service, at all times mourners should maintain social distancing in line with the current Government advice and should refrain from making physical contact with anyone outside of your support bubble. There may be other changes too and service venues will differ, for example the gardens may be closed, it may not be possible to touch or carry the coffin, curtains may not remain open during the service. All charitable collections should be done online via our free online tribute service.

What should I do if I can’t afford the cost of a funeral?

For anyone who may have difficulty in covering the cost of a funeral the Department for Work and Pensions, Social Fund Funeral Payment may be available. There are also other Government options for support, if needed, such as the Children’s Funeral Fund etc.

What happens if there is a funeral plan in place?

Please call us to understand if there are any current restrictions that may affect the delivery of the plan or some of the products or services listed on it. If you have concerns, or need help tracing a funeral plan, you should contact the Funeral Planning Authority using the form available on their website: https://funeralplanningauthority.co.uk/

Experiencing grief or bereavement

Whenever the death of a friend or loved one happens, it can be an extremely difficult and challenging time. This is likely to be even more prominent for those experiencing bereavement and grief during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The bereaved may struggle with a mixture of different emotions not just because someone has died but with the social distancing measures in place. This might mean you cannot say goodbye in the way you would have liked and could be particularly hard for those isolating alone, and for whom it may be harder to connect with usual support networks. The bereaved could feel waves of intense emotions as they try to come to terms with death. These can include denial, sadness, guilt, shock and anger. All are common and there is no right or wrong way to feel. Grief affects everyone in different ways but the important thing is to grieve and to have the right support to do this. The Bereavement Centre is here to help support you, your family and friends, it’s good to talk. Learn more about grief and the support available through our own Bereavement Centre at www.thebereavementcentre.co.uk or call 08081691922 Additional information and support is available through: NHSCruse Bereavement Care (offers advice and support on dealing with bereavement and grief during the coronavirus outbreak); ataloss.org (provides signposting and services across the UK). If you are supporting a bereaved child or young person the Childhood Bereavement Network has information and links to national and local organisations.

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COVID-19 information regarding arrangement and services