Funerals and Coronavirus/ COVID-19
CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 UPDATE – 27th March 2020
During the pandemic, it is impossible for us to provide funerals as we normally would, however we are still operating and will be doing everything we can to help people through during these extremely distressing times. The guidelines drawn up by the Government in consultation with the two main funeral trade associations the NAFD and SAIF, state that in order to reduce contact, face to face meetings for the arrangement of funerals should be replaced by remote options such as phone calls, email, and skype. We are finding that families are adapting well to this and we are still here as much as you need us to be.
The guidelines state that funerals can take place but have to be limited to immediate family only (fewer than 10 people) with all the social distancing rules applying. Live streaming was an option to include those family members unable to attend, however, due to the excessive strain on bandwidth across the country, this has now been discontinued in most Crematoria until further notice.
The Good Funeral Guide is now calling for a stop to these gatherings that bear little resemblance to our usual heartwarming and healing ceremonies – please read the blog below:
As funeral directors we feel that it is now time to view the way we do funerals differently. Until now, a funeral was two things – firstly laying the body to rest, either by burial or cremation. The second was the part was coming together to mourn, to celebrate the person’s life, to cry, to laugh, to remember. The outbreak of this terrible virus has forced us to adapt and it is no longer safe, feasible or healing to continue these ‘funerals’. We feel that if we are able to change our mindset to consider the separation of these two things, then it is still possible to ‘do right by’ the person, and to have a truly meaningful ceremony that will at least go some way to healing broken hearts.
Please read our blog post on the Good Funeral Guide Website below on we can redefine how we actually say goodbye to our loved ones to help us cope with these difficult decisions:
Guest post by Jo Williamson from Albany Funerals
BBC Breakfast today (2:22:02)
“I wanted to share this, mainly because it’s the first time I’ve heard or seen anything about funerals on TV since the beginning of the outbreak.
Nothing so far addressing the sheer devastation we face having to explain to recently bereaved people that we can not offer them our usual warmth, our safe and tranquil space to plan something together that would have been exactly what their friend or relative would have loved, the choice of spending time with the person who died at our cosy premises, or the comfort of coming together in sadness and smiles to remember and celebrate their lives. I understand why – it’s too heartbreaking.
However! I wanted to pick up on something the GP says in the clip, about the fact that she understands the dilemma for people with pre-existing medical conditions on whether to attend a funeral because it would be ‘their only chance to say goodbye’… I would like to challenge this!
As funeral directors it has been almost impossible to adapt to this necessary change in the way we do things which goes against every bone in our body – no face to face meetings, social distancing, only 10 people allowed at a service, immediate family only, no contact, no hugs, stripped back ceremonies, unattended cremations and burials.
But we have adapted and so have our amazing customers and this is what I wanted to say – please do not despair. I truly believe that we can still do things properly, we just need to change our perception of what a funeral should be.
Up until now, a funeral was two things together – the laying to rest of the body by cremation or burial, and the memorial aspect – the part where we mourn and come together to honour and celebrate the person, to laugh, to cry, to comfort one another. This virus has forced us to change this but I do believe we can adapt to this situation by understanding that it is maybe not so wrong to separate these two parts. Having had heartbreaking phone conversations with our families about this, their first reaction is total horror, utter devastation and the feeling that they are letting down their loved one in some way. These phone calls have been the most horrific thing we’ve had to do in this job so far. However, and this is really important, talking to them daily, we have realised that actually, in most cases this wears off very quickly.
Actually in most cases there is an element of RELIEF. Relief that at this horrific time of sadness and grief they do not have to rush around organising something they are dreading, that they have a little more time to process what has happened before catapulting themselves into trying, for the most part, to second guess the wishes of that person and make it all happen. The realisation that actually they are probably not in any fit state to even take in the ceremony, remember who was there, what was said, what the flowers or coffin even looked like.
We have been taking to local venues who have wonderful spaces little used during the week that cost less than a crematorium chapel. This is what we need to do, offer the second part of the ‘funeral’ in a few months – each one totally personal, more time, beautiful surroundings. Those families affected will be able to come together in a few months to say goodbye to those they have lost and they may possibly also be a little stronger and more able to cope, finding greater comfort and solace with the passage of time.”
It is with a very heavy heart that as of this evening 27th March, after many painful discussions, we have now made the decision as a team that we cannot any longer support putting families and ourselves at risk to continue providing traditional funeral services.
We can however offer the following:
Direct Cremation £1,700 – Includes our fees to bring the person who has died into our care, completion of all paperwork, cremation fee (unattended), standard coffin, provision of ashes in a scatter tube.
You can then either organise your own personal way of celebrating the person’s life, liaise with your local church for a memorial service, or we can assist you:
Arrangement of a ceremony to celebrate the life of the person who has died at a later date
£700 – Includes matching a suitable venue to your needs, complete organisation of the event, including staff on the day. We have already been in touch with some local venues and they are extremely keen to do whatever they can to assist us in holding personal and beautiful ceremonies. Most of these venues provide wakes on the premises and do not charge for venue hire. We can also put you in touch with one of our wonderful celebrants who can liaise with you, either now or at a later date to produce a formal service. The cost of a celebrant is £225.
Please note that in the interest of safety, we cannot presently offer small services at our premises.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you need any advice or guidance – we are here to help 24/7.
Maidstone area – 01622 746688
Ashford area – 01233 650746
At the present time the official guidance from the Government for funerals is a little vague and changes from day to day, so we have decided as a small business that our main concern has to be to keep going as long as we possibly can to ensure that funerals can go ahead with the health and wellbeing of everyone in our community as a priority. However, this means that we have to change the way we work. This is really difficult for us because we pride ourselves in giving everything we can to families in need, but we also know that we are no good to anyone if we have to shut down for any period of time. We also do not want to be responsible for the spread of the virus to vulnerable people. For this reason, in agreement with other local funeral directors, we have decided to switch to assisting families remotely and we are available by phone, email or video chat as often as needed. Decisions are being made at this time at Government level to relax some of the rules for paperwork needed for the funeral to take place, and substituting the physical certificates with on-line versions which will vastly simplify the process and remove the need for as much contact.
We have been encouraging the families that we work with to choose much smaller services, however, this is a fast moving situation, and we now feel that we have to go further. This means completely rethinking how we have funerals for the short term. We feel that the best option at this stage is to offer a non-attended cremation or burial, in a first instance, but with the option of us arranging a beautiful memorial ceremony once this crisis is over. We are currently liaising with local venues to put forward ideas to you which would not cost anymore than a traditional funeral at a church or crematorium. We have organised many such services in the past in different circumstances and they have been hugely well received as they give people more time, space and are more personal.
If this is not something you feel you can accept, we will work with you in every way possible to find a solution – please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss this more fully.
We are well prepared to take care of people who have died with coronavirus/COVID-19 in line with the official guidance we have received from the government. We will continue to look after everyone in our care in our gentle and sensitive way, but have put procedures in place to ensure we can do this safely. This means that our team may be wearing additional personal protective equipment (PPE) even when the risk is deemed to be low.
We are working closely with our colleagues throughout the funeral profession to ensure we can offer the same high standards you would normally expect from us during this unprecedented time.
If you have any questions about coronavirus/COVID-19 and funerals, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us
by calling 01622 746688, 01233 650746 or by emailing