How corona virus may affect funerals
As you will be aware, we are currently facing a period of uncertainty with the corona virus pandemic. We, like everyone else, need to take responsibility to protect our clients and ourselves. We have been thinking about the possible impacts on funerals which are already organised and those yet to be planned in the coming weeks and months.
We would like to provide reassurance that our commitment to caring for you and your loved ones will always remain our first priority at all times. It is so hard with the daily changing situation. However, this could unfold for us all.
At the moment its business is “as near to normal as possible” as far as funeral arrangements are conducted. However, some measures have already been taken to try and reduce the spread of the virus. Crematoriums have removed all hymn books, once the coffin is on the catafalque nobody is allowed to touch the coffin, the curtains must close at the end of the service (this is all to prevent people touching the coffin to then protect the staff then handling the coffin afterwards).
We respectfully ask that you observe all government advice and anyone over the age of 70 and with underlying health conditions should refrain from attending funeral services. Numbers should be kept to a minimum and social distancing should be observed.
We want to protect families and everyone involved in arranging funerals, we are considering a range of infection control options in line with the latest advice given by Public Health England. We are also working with partners, such as local crematoria and burial grounds, to ensure we comply with their coronavirus procedures imposed on us and ultimately yourselves and loved ones.
As such, if we find ourselves in a position of increased risk to health, and at risk of furthering the spread of coronavirus, so we are going to take the following actions:
- Funeral arrangements can be made entirely over the phone (or Face Time), with a single visit to our offices for one person to sign all and any relevant forms this is to limit face-to-face contact and therefore reduce the risk to health for us both. We would not offer a home visit to conduct arrangements at clients’ unless it is in a controlled environment.
- If public attendance at places of worship, crematoriums or burial grounds is suspended by the government, then in such circumstances, there are a few options to you: –
- We could carry out the cremation or burial and then work with you to arrange a memorial or thanksgiving service at a church or another venue at a later date, when the risk has passed.
- We could carry out the service with your officiating Vicar/Priest or Celebrant and you could attend the service via a live video link at the crematorium, where they have the facilities. Barham and Charring have already reduced the cost from £85.00 to £30.00. This is something we highly recommend to save people travelling or for those who are vulnerable to the virus.
- Service times at crematorium could be adjusted and/or reduced to allow for increased demand for services.
- No limousines will be available to conveyancing the family while there is a risk of spreading the virus, as the virus can be passed by close contact (protecting you and ourselves). The Hearse could still leave from the agreed address and the family and mourners could form the funeral cortege in their own cars.
- In the event of widespread staff illness, we have a contingency plan in place with other local family-run and well-respected funeral directors to share personnel if required. Rest assured you will still see the same high standards of care and professionalism.
- Paying your respects. We will protect our clients and staff by restricting open coffins viewings. However, we would do our best to enable clients to pay their respects with a closed coffin during this period.
- As is normal the funeral director and pallbearers would not remain in a chapel or other venue during the service. They will remain close by, outside, ready to assist you when required.
- In the case of corona virus related deaths, we may have to arrange a prompt funeral to prevent unnecessary waiting and handling of the deceased. But be reassured this will be done in the same professional manner as with all our funerals, and we will talk with you at every step of the way.
- We are not able to offer our hygienic treatment (embalming) during this period.
- Outside organisations may well impose rules and restrictions – we will adapt our working practices to follow these and communicate these to you as and when they arise.
- Often a client will want to shake our hands, give us a kiss or hug to say thank you for supporting them. Once again to protect you & us we ask that you refrain from doing this during this period.
This is an unknowing time for everyone and even more so when you’re suffering a bereavement please bear with us as we work with you through these tough times.
If you have any doubts or questions about arranging a funeral or the current processes, please call us directly.
Thank you for your understanding. Mark, Nick and all the team