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  • Writer's pictureGlynis Woodhead

You can still continue to give your loved one a proper send-off ...

The new rules around attending funerals might seem cruel and draconian, but it’s still perfectly possible to give your loved one the farewell they deserved. For families grieving the loss of their loved one, there’s no more important time to be able to say goodbye properly and for most people, that means having a funeral ceremony, rather than a memorial service many months down the line. So what do the new rules mean in practice? I’ve attempted to answer a few questions for you, but if you have more, please just contact me directly through the website contact page, or on Facebook.

Where can I have the ceremony? Ceremonies can still take place in funeral homes and at the Crematorium and most of those places, whilst respecting the rules around social distancing, will still enable you to sit in pairs, so you won’t feel further isolated. If your loved one opted to be buried, ceremonies can take place entirely at the graveside (and often with seating provided by a funeral director). You can’t have a ceremony in a Church as they’ve had to close their doors.

Who can attend? You’re able to have ‘immediate’ family attending funerals: this means grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters, spouse, children, and grandchildren; it seems fairly reasonable to expect that those numbers wouldn’t exceed more than around 20. Sadly, the established Church has taken a much more definitive stance and stricter interpretation of ‘immediate’ family so you may only have a few mourners attending if you opt to have a ceremony conducted by a member of the clergy.

What about other people who want to be there? This is much more straightforward than you might think and they can simply be linked online. Some funeral directors may have their own webcasting systems, and many celebrants, like myself, have been working for some time setting up live broadcasting facilities so that people can watch online. This isn’t complicated at all for families and you’ll be sent a link which you can pass on to everyone who wants to attend. Five minutes before the ceremony is due to start, they just log in online where they’ll see and hear everything clearly. You’ll also be able to get a list afterwards of everyone who ‘attended.’

What if none of our family can attend the ceremony because we’re self-isolating? Then you’ll be able to remain in the safety of your own home and participate online just as I described.

Does that mean our loved one will be on their own? Not at all. Your celebrant will be with your loved one, as will the funeral director, and they’ll be treated with the same dignity and respect as though there’s a room full of people.

Will the ceremony still be personalised? Of course. The only difference is that whoever is conducting the ceremony for you will gather all the details through either a telephone call, or, preferably, through a face to face chat online. Your loved one will be given a send-off that is completely personalised and with beautiful readings and music which reflects and celebrates their life.

We have a speaker who can’t attend in person. That’s no problem either – using the online facility means that your celebrant can enable any online participant to read a poem or tribute for you, as though they were there in person.

Who will conduct the ceremony? Celebrants are considered ‘key workers’ and are still conducting ceremonies as normal. Clergy, too, are still conducting funerals but if your minister isn’t able to accommodate you because of the Church rules, then you can use the services of a celebrant who has their own faith and so is able to conduct a meaningful religious ceremony for you.

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