Coronavirus restrictions are presenting unprecedented challenges for us all. As funeral directors, we have seen drastic changes within the industry. A part of our service is to offer comfort and support to grieving families and it has been especially hard to find new ways of comforting people in what is already a difficult time.
At most funerals, we give a firm handshake and, most of the time, people that leave the chapel thank us or give us a hug. During the lockdown period, we have been unable to offer this kind of comfort, unable to offer our car service and have had to limit the number of mourners to just ten. Within most immediate families, this number easily exceeds ten. Services have had to be conducted at the graveside as church services could not be carried out. Adhering to the two metre social distancing rule is hard. It makes you feel very distant from the family, but it's something that has had to happen.
We have equipped all staff with protective equipment, such as gloves and aprons, which does not sit naturally.
Not being able to carry the coffin has been especially hard to adapt to. It is a long-standing tradition that a lot of mourners get comfort from.
Families themselves are facing restrictions at funerals that make their darkest hours even more difficult, including having to respect social distancing rules. Giving a loved one a hug is not allowed.
Parts of the process have been adaptable. We have been using video to involve more people in services through live broadcasts. As an added gesture, we are offering memorial services later in the year to enable anyone who has missed out on attending a funeral or cremation, to celebrate the life of their loved one in a setting of their choice.
In light of the current safety measures that are in place, we would like to invite the public to respect an old tradition; to stop and pay their respects if they see a passing hearse. There’s been a huge decline in people stopping in the street. So, if you see a hearse, please consider stopping, standing still for a moment and bowing your head as it passes. It would mean the world to the family in their time of sadness.