Losing someone at any time is hard but, in our current situation, attending funerals and coping with grief have become even harder. Life in lockdown is presenting so many challenges, but whether we are recently bereaved and trying to cope in isolation or dealing with the death of a loved one at this time, there are things we can do to help ourselves and those close to us.
Coronavirus has changed funerals beyond recognition. Where we would usually invite friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances to gather together to celebrate the life of a friend or family member, government guidelines now outline some very strict rules:
- Only a very limited number of mourners are able to attend – close family only
- Mourners must stay six feet apart at all times, if they are not from the same household
- No one showing Coronavirus symptoms can attend
While these restrictions can cause anxiety for the recently bereaved, here at Austin’s all funeral arrangements are continuing to be made by telephone and we can assure you of our ongoing support and compassion.
A personal farewell
While we can’t make things completely ‘normal’ right now, we’re dedicated to giving your loved ones the funerals they deserve and you the level of support we would at any other time. One of our customers recently sent us this message: “It was different, special and intimate with just the Revd and myself. Nevertheless, it was a special service and I was able to say a very personal farewell, which I am certain would not have been possible with a large congregation. I will treasure this always.”
Support when you need it
Cruse Bereavement Care, our charity of the year, says: “The current restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic mean many people are unable to attend funerals, cremations and wakes. This is a very distressing reality for thousands of people at this time. Each month in the UK there are around 50,000 deaths, so many people, maybe like yourself, are unable to say goodbye in the way they expected.”
Cruse have trained experts ready to help you; whether you need support coping with grief during isolation or need advice in another area.
How to make things easier
It’s so hard seeing families not being able to give each other a hug in times of sadness, and for others having to stay away completely. But amongst all the uncertainty, there are things we can do to make life a little easier.
- Livestream the ceremony – to allow more friends and family to pay their respects. We offer this service and can help people feel part of the funeral if they cannot attend in person.
- Record a message to be played out at the funeral – for those close to the deceased who are unable to attend. Just as you would have a poem or something similar read during the service, this can be pre-recorded by a loved one for that extra personal touch.
- Create your own memorial at home – both while the funeral is going on and for as long as you would like to in the days following the death. Light a candle next to a photograph of them to bring you closer together, or why not play their favourite music?
- “Keep talking” – say Cruse Bereavement Care. This is more important than ever during isolation. Utilise technology and connect with friends and family, multiple times a day if you want to. If you have elderly relatives, you could have a rota with family and friends to make sure someone is in contact with them every day.
- Focus on the life of your loved one – rather than your loss. These are very different times and when we can’t physically be together, or have the funeral services we might have imagined, what we can do is put our energy into focusing on the life of our loved one and the kind of person they were.
- Plan a memorial event for the future – where more people can join you to celebrate your loved one’s life, share stories and reflect.
Technology has been a lifeline to so many during this pandemic to maintain connections with loved ones, but it is also a crucial link to the numerous support networks for those experiencing loss or grief.
Our phone lines are open as usual if you need any help around funeral planning. You may also find this great resource from Cruse of interest: https://www.cruse.org.uk/get-help/coronavirus-dealing-bereavement-and-grief
And don’t forget we all still have the beautiful world we are in. Our memorial gardens at Harwood Park Crematorium are still open for families to come and reflect upon their loved ones. We look forward to welcoming you.