Commemorating a loved one and acknowledging loss
When our loved one dies we instinctively turn to our family and friends for support. We want to have them around us as we try and come to terms with what’s happened. It’s only natural. Our familiar cultural or religious rituals will also help us get through this difficult time. Coming together to acknowledge our loss and to celebrate the life of our loved one. This helps us get through the process of saying goodbye and starts the beginning our grieving.
Current changes in funeral practices
Inevitably, due to Covid19 changes to funeral ceremonies have been introduced. This is to safeguard everyone and to try and stop the spread of the #Covid19 Virus. Most of the process can now be arranged over the phone. In the first instance you should contact your chosen Funeral Director and Ceremony Officiant by telephone and they will advise you of their procedures. I have outlined below the important details you should know.
Can I visit my loved one in the Chapel of Rest?
It won’t be possible to see them at the Chapel of Rest as the coffin will be sealed due to the risk of possible infection. Funeral Directors will give guidance to individual families on how Covid19 changes to funeral ceremonies will affect them.
Why are there restrictions in place regarding funeral ceremonies?
The Government has tightened restrictions on social isolation and self-isolation. This meant that Funeral Directors and Celebrants needed to make a reassessment of their current practices. The main priority is to safeguard all family members and friends, and also staff members and funeral professionals, and to avoid the spread of #Covid19.
Therefore, the Professional Organisations which regulate and advise Funeral Directors have put guidelines in place. This inevitably means changes to funeral ceremonies. This will now impact all funeral ceremonies going forward. The guidelines on how Covid19 changes to funeral ceremonies will take effect, will change as and when Government directives change. This is a very fluid situation.
Attending the Chapel for a Ceremony
Other changes to funeral ceremonies mean that limousines will not be provided because of the risk t mourners and importantly the driver. It’s to avoid close contact with other family members and professional staff.
You are advised to travel to the Crematorium in separate cars (you can travel with your immediate household members) to avoid putting your other family and friends at risk. There may not be any flowers as the importing of flowers has been suspended due to border closures.
Follow the handwashing guidelines and use any antibacterial gel available as you enter the building. The 2 metre distance rule will be applied so you will be asked to sit at 2 metres distance from each other in the Chapel. There will be no Hymn Books. Hugs, kisses and shaking of hands should not take place as this can spread the virus. After the Ceremony go home immediately and not gather outside the Chapel.
Can ‘at risk’ family members or friends attend the Ceremony?
We know that it’s very upsetting not to be able to attend a funeral of a loved one. But these are very unusual and distressing times. So that no-one is put in danger anyone in the ‘at risk’ group should not leave their home. This would be putting their life at risk. Many cemeteries and crematoriums in the UK are also now having to restrict the number of mourners to close family only. For example spouse, children, siblings, parents. And this is limited to less than 10 in total. Each mourner has to sit apart by at least 2 metres.
You can arrange to have the full Celebration of Life Ceremony sent to ‘at risk’ family and friends using Webcasting/Livestreaming via the internet from the Crematorium Chapel.
This will allow everyone to take part in the ceremony from their own homes via the internet. It allows everyone to take part in the Ceremony in some way and to stay safe. The last thing you’d want is to put other family members at risk. The extended family will all be paying their respects at the same time. It can also be recorded too.
I’ve heard of Direct Cremation and Webcasting. Can you explain what it is?
A ‘Direct Cremation’ is a cremation without any family members in attendance at the Chapel. Your loved one will be carried into the Chapel with all the respect and dignity due to them by the professional funeral attendants, and placed on the catafalque, before being committed to cremation.
In the current circumstances it may be wise to consider a Direct Cremation, without any family members at the Chapel as this will keep everyone safe from Covid19.
Webcasting is a video which is sent over the internet. It can be live and it can also be recorded. Your ceremony officiant can create a ceremony for you as normal, using the phone or internet to discuss the details of music, poetry, readings etc with you. You will have exactly what you’d like included. They will create a bespoke ceremony to celebrate the life and character of your loved one.
Your Officiant can Webcast the full ceremony from their own home at a time to suit you on the day of the Cremation. If possible it will be at the time allocated for the comittal of your loved one for cremation. All family and friends can take part by watching the webcast of the Ceremony at the same time. You’ll gain some comfort knowing that everyone is paying their respects at the same time even if you can’t be together. If you want to have the ceremony available to be seen later for anyone who can’t be available at the original time this is also possible.
What can I include in a Webcast Ceremony?
The ceremony can include all the usual elements of music, prayer, hymns, poetry, readings, personal tributes from friends and family, memories, etc. Or you might want to do it in a different way. However you want it your Officiant will put the ceremony together, linking each element of memories, poetry, prayers, music, tributes etc to make a bespoke ceremony all about your loved one.
The officiant will talk to family members via phone or internet to gather all the personal details that you’d like to be included in order to make it a true Celebration of Life. Covid19 changes to funeral ceremonies are not what we would like. But with the help of a funeral celebrant or other officiant you can still have a fitting tribute to your loved one, which friends and family can access easily.
Once these awful social isolation restrictions are lifted, you might choose to have a ‘Memorial’ ceremony with all your family and friends gathered around you to remember your loved one and to celebrate their life. You could combine it with a scattering/burial of ashes ceremony with everyone invited, and then go to a venue of your choice for the proper ‘wake’ element.
Or if you prefer to scatter the ashes with just close family present, once this is done you could arrange to have a celebration of life ceremony with the wake at any suitable venue you choose. This gives all the family an opportunity to contribute personal memories and tributes or to choose poetry to be read out and to choose music that has a special relevance. The sharing of memories with family and friends in this way will help you to say farewell in the way you want to and is an important step to help you move forward in your grieving process.
Rest assured that once the current restrictions are lifted your Celebrant will help you to plan and will officiate a fitting ceremony for you. You will get the Celebration of Life Ceremony that you want at some future date.
Can you help me?
I’d be honoured to help you create a Celebration of Life Ceremony for your loved one, now or at a future date.
I can create a Webcast Ceremony from my home for families in any part of the world as distance is not a factor.
You’re welcome to read feedback from families I’ve been privileged to help.
If you’d like to talk to me about the changes made or would like me to help you to create a Ceremony for your loved one please contact me directly, or ask your Funeral Director to call me on ++44 (0)7722 203636
N.B. Please note this information is correct as of 11th April 2020 and may change on a daily basis. I will endeavour to update the information as Government and Funeral Guidelines change.