In this exceptional time, the Government’s guidance on social distancing and self-isolation is having a major impact on all aspects of everyday life, including the way funerals will be conducted for the immediate future. At the moment, funerals can go ahead, but they may be different from what might normally be expected.
It is advised that meetings between a family or next-of-kin and myself are held by telephone, Skype or other online platform, rather than face-to-face. If meetings can only be held in person, social distancing guidance will be followed.
Although this will be very difficult for everyone, numbers of those attending the funeral will have to be kept to a minimum – I have been advised that immediate family only should attend. This should also be communicated to anyone in your wider circle of friends, family or colleagues, in advance. Sadly, those over the age of 70, and those with an underlying health condition, are strongly discouraged from attending in the present circumstances.
Where family, relatives or friends are unable to attend a funeral service, I can still lead a funeral at the graveside or crematorium, even if those present are limited to myself and the funeral director.
We can discuss whether a memorial service could be held at some point in the future, which is an opportunity for more people to come together once Government guidance permits.
Those who are self-isolating may be offered the opportunity to join the service via a system such as Skype or another audio link, depending on what is practical and available. Failing this, a recording could be made which can be sent to anyone unable to attend after the service.
Where no audio link can be achieved, I can provide a full text of the service either by email or post.
Everyone attending the service must adhere to Government guidance on social distancing. The funeral director and I will give you guidance on your arrival at the service.
While naturally those present may wish to shake hands or hug, they should refrain from doing so in light of guidance on physical distancing.
In keeping with the recommendations to limit social gatherings, there should not be a wake or other gathering after the funeral, saving such a gathering for a later time when the bans are lifted.
I will do the best I possibly can to support you through this difficult time. We are learning that we have to be more flexible in our approach, and as the situation is constantly changing there are no guarantees from one week to the next. If there comes a time when I am unable to work through self-isolation or illness, you will be informed straight away and an alternative celebrant will be offered to deliver the service.
I wish you well and hope you have found some answers to your questions here. Please call me if you wish to discuss how to honour your loved one in a proper and meaningful way in this time of change and challenge.
Thank you for all your understanding, help and kindness in steering us through organising G's funeral to the point where we actually came to understand what we wanted. The outcome was a wonderful service that you conducted with such warmth and inclusiveness, that was a celebration of G's life. So many people commented on how impressive you were. We are now able to look back on the ceremony with happiness, through the sadness, which is an outcome we never thought possible. A.W.
Thank you very much, on behalf of the whole family, for the wonderfully serene way you conducted my father's funeral. Your calmness and dignity helped us through what was, for all of us a painful event. You read the eulogy so beautifully. N.J.
Thank you so much for the beautiful and sensitive delivery of S's service. We really appreciate your hard work, support and kindness. J.B.
Frances was our celebrant yesterday, she was magnificent! With an enormous amount of planning by her, for us, she organised us in our grief; with sensitivity and honesty, which culminated in a triumph of our day of celebration. She set the perfect tone, a balance of respect for my wife with the grace, humour and dignity required when addressing over 60 people. A truly amazing day, I can't recommend Frances highly enough. D.H.