Planning a funeral in a pandemic

It has been a tough year for everyone this year, particularly those who have lost loved ones. Not only are they dealing with their grief, they have also had to arrange a funeral under difficult and restrictive conditions.

We’re working hard with families to make sure that everybody gets the special ceremony and funeral your loved ones deserve.

We’ve seen many different types of funerals and memorials this year, and these are some of the steps our clients have taken to make sure the funeral is memorable.

Begin with the basics

Your loved one may have talked about their wishes for their funeral. Even though numbers attending may be restricted, there is no reason why these wishes cannot still be carried out, be it music or readings. Both burials and cremations are still possible.

We can meet with you in one of our funeral homes (a maximum of two family members making the arrangements currently) or many clients are preferring to talk through their requirements over the phone or by video call. Once you have decided, we will then advise you of the venue restrictions and what is and isn’t possible.

Washing and dressing for cultural or religious reasons can still be carried out, and we can organise both open and closed coffin viewing, providing the deceased was not Covid positive.

The funeral procession can still leave from your home, or the deceased’s, and it still possible for family members to travel together in limousines which have been fitted with hygiene screens and are thoroughly sanitised before and after each funeral. The coffin can also be carried into the service, although family members must be in a pre-existing bubble or family unit.

Stand guard

With restricted numbers, many families are asking friends and neighbours to line the pavements in a guard of honour. This is lovely way for people to pay their respects and to say goodbye, as long as people keep in their family bubbles, and remain socially distant. We can talk to you about possible routes and can also include special places such as a sports club, school or place of work, and then you can share these details on memorial pages or social media.

A client recently asked if their dog could stand guard outside the service, which we were happy to oblige. You can still ask people to wear a particular colour or bring something important for your loved one.

Attend from a distance

We often recommend that family members capture memories of the service, which they may want to look back on later. It is especially important when so many others may wish to share the occasion who can’t be there. Videos or photographs of the cortege, flowers or other details can be helpful to others. Technology also allows for the live streaming of services, to allow people to watch from home. There are many ways to do this, depending on the venue, so please talk to us about these options.

Include everyone

Even though numbers are restricted, you can still conduct the service as if people are there. There will be many people grieving who are unable to attend the service, particularly those who are self-isolating, and their grief can be magnified by being absent. Including them in the service in some way can make them feel closer to events and ease their pain a little.

Work with the celebrant or officiant to create a truly unique and personalised tribute.

You may also want to print additional Orders of Service or readings and prayers to give to those people who could not attend.

Commemorate online

There are now many ways to create an online memorial for your loved one. Not only is this a lasting legacy, it also allows others to leave their messages of remembrance and support.

The website includes details of the funeral, photographs and obituary as well as allowing people to leave their own comments and make charitable donations.

There are also keepsakes and mementoes that can be created, either for yourself or to give to loved ones, to celebrate the life that has been lost and provide a physical remembrance. Jewellery, amongst other items, can be made from ashes, fingerprints or photographs.

Talk about how you feel

With the country in lockdown, it’s vital that you maintain contact with people around you. Talk about how you feel and what you need, and don’t feel the need to hide away. Take a look at our previous blogpost to see how you can find and ask for support.

Plan for the future

The celebration of a life does not need to be confined to a funeral. Even though numbers for a funeral service are restricted, you can plan a memorial event for friends and family once the restrictions have lifted. This could be organised to coincide with their birthday, anniversary or incorporate the scattering of ashes or tree planting.

This can be a wonderful opportunity for people to share happy memories and celebrate the person that they loved.

We realise how difficult this time can be and our team at Heart of England Funerals will do all that we can to make your loved ones funeral as unique and special as we possibly can.