COVID-19 FAQ's

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?

Only the following key mourners should attend:
  • members of the person's household
  • close family members
  • only if the above are unable to attend, close friends
  • attendance of a celebrant of choice, should the bereaved request this 
Any mourner who is showing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms (a new continuous cough or a high temperature) should NOT attend the funeral as they pose a risk to others; remote participation should be considered, for example live webcast streaming where available or by recording the service. Key mourners of the deceased may include those who are self-isolating due to another member of the household being unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). Where the funeral is scheduled before the period of household isolation has been completed (14 days from the first person in that household showing symptoms) key mourners who are self-isolating can attend the funeral in person, with processes put in place to minimise the risk of transmission which should include:
  • Not to attend if they have any symptoms of any kind, even if these are very mild
  • Maintain a distance of at least 2 metres between themselves and others
  • Advise other mourners they are otherwise self-isolating at home, and ensure they do not attend at the same time as another mourner who may be extremely clinically vulnerable
  • Practise careful hand and respiratory hygiene:
    • Wash their hands more often - with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitiser.
    • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth
    • covering their cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin
    • use their own transport where possible.
Mourners who are clinically vulnerable or in a shielded group can attend the funeral, using the ‘social distancing rules for mourners’ to minimise the risk of transmission. Mourners who are in an extremely clinically vulnerable group can attend the funeral should they wish to do so. Mourners who are in an extremely clinically vulnerable group have been advised that they should minimise their contact with others for their personal protection. However, they may decide to attend a funeral despite the additional risk this poses to them and should be facilitated to do so. They are not advised to attend a funeral if there are others attending who are self-isolating due to another member of the household being unwell with symptoms of coronavirus, as they could be incubating the disease. Mourners who are extremely clinically vulnerable should follow the general social distancing advice for the clinically vulnerable mourners and should maintain a distance of 2 metres away from others as a minimum. Other actions to reduce their risk of infection should include:
  • Advising other attendees there is an extremely clinically vulnerable person attending and reiterating the need to stay at home if they are unwell, and to be respectful of the vulnerable person’s need to avoid close contact at any point
  • The mourner should travel to the venue via the safest route possible, preferably in a car by themselves, or with someone from their household
  • Considering the additional risk involved if attending the funeral requires travelling by public transport
  • Ensure mourners who are in a clinically vulnerable group do not attend the same ceremony as mourners who are in household isolation
  • Mourners who are clinically vulnerableor extremely clinically vulnerable should adhere to rigorous hand and respiratory hygiene at all times but particularly whilst out of the home environment. Hand sanitiser or sanitising wipes should be used regularly whilst outside of the home.
Social distancing rules for mourners Social distancing measures are actions to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) which include:
  • Ensuring you are at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from others
  • Mourners should follow the advice on social distancing when travelling to and from the funeral gathering
  • Follow the guidance on hand hygiene and preventing the spread of infection:
    • Wash hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and water or hand sanitiser, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas
    • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or the crook of your sleeved arm (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use hand sanitiser.

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. It is limited to the immediate family and will be arranged for a specific time, with the number of people and amount of times you can attend also limited. Those who are at an increased risk of serious illness due to coronavirus (as defined by government guidance) are strongly urged not to visit.

Can we use a limousine?

No. In the currently situation limousines are no longer available.

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 remain two metres apart from anyone not living in their household. Refrain from making physical contact with anyone outside of your household. There may be other changes too, 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 and all charitable collections should be done online.

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

It is likely that total funeral costs will be lower in some cases, as some of the things you might normally associate with a funeral (specific coffins, a printed order of service, floral tributes, receptions afterwards etc.) may not currently be available. However, 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.