The Future Of Funerals During The Coronavirus Pandemic

September 24, 2020

We are all aware of the testing times regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Many of us are now wondering how this will affect funerals at this challenging time.  

As it stands at this moment, there is concern about any form of mass gathering which, of course, includes funeral services. 

Funerals allow family members and friends to join together and grieve, talk about the loved one and also lets us say goodbye. Not being able to do this can compound grief, yet a large number of mourners defies the logic behind social distancing. 

What else can we do to limit or prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic? 

The UK is planning an emergency bill that will allow funeral directors to register a death on behalf of a self-isolating family. The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), stated on their website.

Although we are still working our way through the detail of the Bill, the NAFD supports the government’s aim with this legislation, which applies to all nations of the UK. It is about putting in place the right measures at the right time. For funeral directors, that’s about ensuring we can preserve the dignity of those who die and care for their bereaved families with compassion – even if they are not able to have the kind of funeral they would have wanted.

There are a number of provisions in the Bill that will support funeral directors during the peak of the outbreak. For example, funeral directors being able to assist with death registration may be particularly helpful if families are self-isolating – as will the ability to transfer registration documents digitally. 

Providing the government recognises the importance of designating funeral service workers as key workers, we believe that this legislation – combined with ongoing dialogue at both a national government and local resilience forum level – will enable the funeral profession in being able to properly care for people who die, and their loved ones at a very difficult time.” 

Some local authorities, such as Chesterfield and District Crematorium, are asking to minimise the number of people attending funerals due to the social distancing guidelines, which are under ongoing review by the Government. Handshaking is discouraged, and mourners are asked to wait in their cars rather than congregate around the chapels before the service in a bid to prevent the spread. It is looking more and more likely than a funeral service could be somehow ‘live-streamed’ to the mourners to minimise and risk of further infection. Any mourners that are unwell are urged to stay at home and self-isolate.  

In Italy, most families are finding that they cannot hold a funeral. Under restrictions, funerals are banned. Those that die in hospital are alone and collected by funeral workers. The army was drafted in to help move some 65 coffins in Bergamo on 18th March.  

The ceremonies are kept simple, with only a blessing from a priest, and the memorial services will have to be held at a later date. Due to the rapidly rising death toll, the mortuaries are full, and the staff are working around the clock.  

South Korean citizens have also been urged to “cremate loved ones first and hold a funeral later”.  

This is not due to any risk of Covid-19 transferring from an infected and deceased loved one-research says chances of contagion are very slim- but by a crowd being in close proximity. It may be that only immediate family members may attend and other mourners will join a live webcast.  

This is the stark reality of such a pandemic.  

This is quite a wakeup call for all of us. It is never too late to plan ahead. One day we will all need a funeral, and at a hard time for our grieving families, it would be nice for them to know they don’t have to find the funds to pay for it. 

If you wish to speak to a member of our team regarding funeral plans, click here