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Arranging a funeral – coronavirus advice

Arranging or attending a funeral is a very personal and emotional time and knowing what to do at the moment can be tricky. So, what should you do during the coronavirus outbreak? 

Can I still go to a funeral?

There’s specific guidance about who can attend funerals at the moment.

You shouldn’t attend a funeral if:

  • you’re displaying any symptoms of coronavirus.

You can attend a funeral if:

  • you’re a family member, or lived with the person that died
  • you’re a close friend and the person that died didn’t have any close family.

Those arranging the funeral should do their best to enable you to attend if:

  • you’re a close family member self-isolating for 14-days because someone you live with is displaying symptoms
  • you’re a close family member and you've been advised to shield and have carefully considerd the risks of doing so.

You're advised not to attend if:

  • you’ve been asked to shield and anyone else attending lives with anyone displaying symptoms
  • you live with someone displaying symptoms and anyone else attending has been advised to shield.

If you’ve been self-isolating because you live with someone displaying symptoms or you’ve been advised to shield then you should really consider your travel to and from the venue (ideally in a car by yourself) and make sure to keep a safe distance from other mourners at all times. If using shared transport with mourners you don't live with and where social distancing is not possible, you should consider wearing a face covering. 

Everyone attending the funeral should follow the social distancing guidelines and keep a distance of 2 metres.

The latest funeral guidance aims to balance the needs of the bereaved to mourn appropriately while limiting the spread of coronavirus. It outlines where exceptions can be made to the current guidance to stay at home. These exceptions only relate to the death of someone you live with, a family member or a close friend. And if you are self-isolating or shielding and want to attend, special considerations should be made. 

Can I still arrange a funeral?

Currently, guidelines say that funerals should continue as normally as possible and shouldn't be delayed. However, families are being asked to restrict attendance to 'close family members' to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus to attendees and staff involved in the ceremony. Members of a 'support bubble' would also count as close family members. 

It is no longer appropriate to hold a gathering after the ceremony at any venue, including the family home. 

Also, individual crematoriums may have their own guidance based on their facilities and this will need to be considered when arranging a funeral. They may also provide online broadcasting so mourners can watch the service without attending in person. 

When arranging a funeral, you must consider the wider guidelines in place at the moment, including social distancing, good hand hygiene, avoiding physical contact and to be particularly mindful of those in at-risk groups (such as those over 70 who are self-isolating or shielding). 

For more information about who is considered in a high-risk group, you can visit our page here

What do I need to think about when arranging a funeral?

When arranging a funeral at the moment, it's certainly worth considering the following before you contact a funeral director: 

  • who you want to attend, being mindful of those in high-risk groups who may want to attend
  • arranging service sheets as service books are unlikely to be available
  • recording the eulogy on a phone or other recording device so those not in attendance can listen or watch at another time
  • services may need to be shorter so the venue can be cleaned between services
  • whether you might organise a celebration of life or memorial for a later date, when it's safe to do so
  • social distancing requirements
  • whether it's appropriate to have family members bearing the coffin
  • give particular consideration if anyone attending has been self-isolating as they live with someone displaying symptoms, or anyone advised to shield
  • those considered vulnerable or advised to shield are advised to avoid any contact with the body of the person that's died, including washing, preparing and dressing.

Coping with a bereavement at this time

The death of someone close to us can be one of the hardest things we ever have to deal with – grief is never easy. But at the moment it may seem just that bit harder as we feel more detached from our usual support networks. Cruse Bereavement Care have more information on dealing with a bereavement during the coronavirus outbreak

What changes on the day?

As well as the considerations above, there are certain things you should do on the day to avoid the spread of coronavirus. 

  1. Wait outside in the car until you're asked to enter the building by the celebrant, chapel attendant or funeral director.
  2. Don't shake hands with anyone, including the minister, funeral director or other mourners.
  3. Bring hand sanitiser and use hygiene products made available at the venue. 
  4. Allow staff to open and close doors to the service to restrict the number of people touching door handles. 
  5. Numbers in the venue are likely to be limited. Stick to any assigned seating plans and keep your distance from other mourners. 
  6. You may be advised not to touch the coffin as you leave the service. 

If you can’t be at the funeral there are things you can do to help you feel like you’re a part of it. You could light a candle, or sit in quiet reflection, or do a reading. These can help you feel like you are saying goodbye.

Alternatively, you could ask for the funeral to be recorded so that you can watch it later.

For more information

For more information about the current guidelines you can visit the following websites:

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Last updated: Jun 12 2020

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