How funeral services have changed due to COVID-19
PUBLISHED: 11:45 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 12:06 07 May 2020
Several weeks into the coronavirus pandemic, and as funeral services – amongst other things – have been forced to change, it can be difficult to find any silver lining.
We spoke to James Showers, director of Family Tree Funeral Company, to learn more about the changes to funeral services and his advice on finding ways to achieve a heartfelt, memorable ceremony at a heart-breaking time.
Q: How many people can attend a funeral now?
At the time of writing, only ‘close family members’ can attend funeral services; if they cannot attend, then ‘close friends’. At crematoria, with social distancing still a priority, the maximum is 5 in Gloucester, 10 in the Forest of Dean and - amazingly - none in Cheltenham.
If your family have chosen a ‘direct cremation’ with no family in attendance, please know that your beloved person will still be looked after with the utmost care and respect.
Q: What is your advice to people who are struggling to cope with the present reality of funeral services?
Find ways for the family to be involved: make it YOURS! A small, simple funeral – although perhaps not what was planned – can bring intimacy and warmth to a family; such precious qualities can be harder to experience in a more conventional funeral with a larger congregation.
Most crematoria are offering live-streamed video and watch-again options, helpful to people who cannot attend, and allowing wider contact for the family. Our website has a ‘memorial’ page where memories can be shared.
Q: What examples do you have of seeing first-hand the impact of some of these changes?
Examples are recent burial services at Churchdown, and at Brimscombe Cemetery – both attended by close family only standing well apart on the hushed woodland hillside around the grave. Held by the beautiful surroundings and the warm spring sunshine, each person there was touched by the simplicity, finality and beauty in every element of the short service, full of the love for the person who had died.
Another example is driving the coffin through the village with the family walking ahead, and neighbours clapping and waving.
If amidst the sadness and sense of loss you are forced to have a smaller funeral than you would have preferred, remember this can be an opportunity for a heartfelt, intimate and memorable ceremony at a heart-breaking time.