As of 24 March 2020 in the UK funerals can only go ahead at a crematorium or graveside. Only 'immediate family' are able to attend, and they must abide by social distancing rules. This will be the case whether or not the person died of coronavirus. Many bereaved people may be in isolation and unable to attend funerals, even under the new rules. Funeral services are likely to be delayed and much shorter than usual. This can be very distressing.
In normal times funerals serve a number of important purposes after someone dies.
- They can help to make the death seem real.
- They offer people a chance to share thoughts and feelings about the person who has died, and to say goodbye.
- They bring families and friends together to support one another.
- They give people a focus at a time when so many things seem out of a person’s control.
All of these functions may be disrupted if the funeral is delayed, shortened and if friends and family, even close relatives, cannot attend.
How you can help yourself
If you cannot attend a funeral, it may be possible to still feel part of the event to an extent. It may be possible for a friend, relative or someone from the funeral directors to record, video, or even live stream the event. You may be able to write or record a message to be read out or played at the funeral. Contact your funeral director for advice.
If you cannot watch the funeral, you could set aside the time while the funeral is taking place (or later) to hold your own act of memorial at home. You could: look at pictures, play some of the person’s favourite music, write a message to them, light a candle or follow any of your own cultural rituals.
Ask those who have been able to attend to call you afterwards so you can hear their account of the event, and take the time to share your memories of the person.
If the funeral is delayed or reduced to a very short service you could still set some time aside to have your own private goodbye including any of the ideas above.
We will not be under these restrictions forever, and at some future point you may be able to hold a formal or informal memorial to those who have died.
How you can help someone else
If you know that someone you care about is not able to attend a funeral, you may be able to help them at what is a very difficult time. If you are attending the funeral, find out if it is possible to take pictures, record the event or even live stream it. They may like to record their own message to read out or play at the funeral.
Offer to call them afterwards and let them know how it went. They may appreciate the chance to share their memories of the person who has died, and hear your memories too. As time goes on after a funeral and people continue their lives, some bereaved people find that messages of support tail off. In times of social isolation it will be even more important that they have someone to talk to, so try and stay in touch and let them know you are thinking of them.
How Cruse can help
Cruse is continuing to offer as much support as possible. We are extending the services we offer over the phone to help those who need to isolate.
- Our National Freephone Helpline remains open – call 0808 808 1677. Opening hours are Monday-Friday 9.30-5pm (excluding bank holidays), with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, when we’re open until 8pm.
- There is a lot of information elsewhere our website, including dealing with traumatic bereavement
- Our Local Services can also offer support mainly over the phone at the present time. Find the details of your Local Service