How have funeral ceremonies changed during COVID-19?
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When someone we love dies it is an emotional and stressful time for everyone, especially now, due to the changes COVID-19 has brought to everyday life.
The team at Susan Whymark Funeral Service Ltd explain what changes have been made to funeral services and what you’ll need to be aware of when planning one.
Q: How can I make funeral arrangements during lockdown?
You can instruct us via phone, Skype, WhatsApp or another medium that suits you. We can send all the paperwork for you to look through either in advance of our telephone call or after, and the signing of paperwork can now be done via email.
For families not online, we can send it through the post or deliver it to your door. We’ll continue to help you and your family every step of the way to make the arrangements you need.
Q: Can I arrange a church service?
Whilst the Church of England has announced that services are currently not able to take place in the church, a graveside service is available with limited attendance and immediate family only. You can discuss this with your minister or we can advise on how many and who if further advice is needed.
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We are able to have the graveside service visually recorded for those not able to attend, however, there would be a cost involved.
Q: Can a celebrant or minister still deliver the ceremony?
Many celebrants and ministers have chosen to do their initial meeting over the phone or via video link.
They remain available to discuss the service that you want and they are still leading the service in person at the crematorium or graveside but will abide by social distancing measures and stand two metres away from attendees.
Q: Will hymn and prayer books be available?
Unfortunately, not at the moment. However, we can print a service sheet or paper copies of any hymns upon request. At the crematorium, the words, if available, can be put on the screen at the front.
Q: How many people can attend the crematorium?
Each crematorium has a maximum amount of people that currently attend a funeral – it’s worth checking the limit with us or the crematorium beforehand.
Each crematorium varies dependant on the size of the crematorium service chapel as they need to make sure mourners stand two metres apart if attending from different households. It’s recommended that only immediate family members should come to the ceremony. This means spouses/partners, parents/carers, children, grandchildren and siblings.
If the deceased has no close family members then executors, close friends and carers can attend in their place.
For family members unable to be there, you can have a live webcast or you can record the service for them to watch at a later date, to keep them involved and allow them to say goodbye. There is however a further charge for this.
Q: Can we carry the coffin?
For your safety, it is strongly recommended family members do not act as pallbearers, instead, a wheeled bier will be used to carry the coffin.
You can still walk behind your loved one as we enter the crematorium.
As this won’t be practical for a graveside service, it’s advised that we carry the coffin for you.
Q: Am I able to book a limousine?
You can still arrange for the hearse and funeral procession to leave from your home, though we are not recommending we supply a limousine.
If you are from the same household it would be possible but our staff would not be able to help anyone with mobility difficulties to enter or exit the vehicle.
Where possible it is advised you should follow in your own vehicles and travel with members of your household only.
Q: Are flowers still allowed at the funeral?
Yes, you can still arrange flowers to travel in the hearse or be brought to the crematorium.
Q: Why are the curtains closed at the end of the Crematorium service?
Some crematorium have asked for mandatory closing of the curtains at the end of the service. This is to discourage mourners from touching the coffin and reduce the possibility of transferring the virus, as it is believed the virus can survive on hard surfaces for many hours.
Q: Who can I contact to help with pre-arranged funeral plans?
We are more than happy to speak with you about your own funeral plan during this time but again this would be over the telephone with paperwork being posted to you for signature.
We are still contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are working very closely to support bereaved families during these difficult times.
We’ve seen many quick changes to how funerals are conducted, but we’re here to help families say goodbye and make the arrangements they want while keeping within the government guidelines.
After lockdown, you could arrange a second service or gather at a place dear to your loved one to celebrate their life together and we would be happy to help you with this if needed.