Families adjusting to 'difficult' funeral changes amid coronavirus pandemic

THE coronavirus pandemic has led to changes in how funerals are being conducted in order to abide by government measures on social distancing.

Funeral directors have been forced to adjust how they operate during an already heightened emotional time to make sure the deadly disease does not spread - with them admitting the new rules are ‘difficult’ for families.

Changes include only allowing up to 10 members of immediate family at funerals and having the service broadcast via a live link to others unable to attend due to the new strict requirements.

Arrangements for funerals are now being handled over the phone as much as possible whilst funeral directors are having to adopt a ‘more vigilant’ approach than normal when following hygiene guidelines.

A funeral at Portchester Crematorium. Picture: Sarah Standing

Paul Lee-Bapty, managing director of Portsmouth family owned Mayfields Funerals, said: ‘There are certain restrictions we all have to abide by following the government advice like only having a maximum of 10 people at funerals.

‘We are carrying out discussions with family over the phone rather than face to face when arranging funerals.

‘It is upsetting for some family members and those closed to the deceased that they are unable to attend the service so there are now live streams, though there can be a delay due to the number of people watching.’

Mr Lee-Bapty was unable to say whether Mayfields had dealt with any coronavirus victims but said: ‘There have been a number of cases so it is inevitable we may have encountered some cases.

‘We make sure we observe the hygiene regulations which are more stringent at this time.’

Kerry Hanson, funeral arranger at Cosham-based Lee Fletcher Funeral Services, admitted ‘a lot of practices have changed’ but it was ‘nothing we can’t handle’.

She said: ‘Funerals are a stressful situation anyway but all the families have been very good and fully understand the situation with the government advice.

‘Live streaming is not ideal but can be quite useful for those unable to attend the service but can still feel a part of it.’

Meanwhile David Collingwood, director of funerals at Co-op Funeralcare, said they had made a number of changes including ‘pausing the use of limousines in our funerals given the current government safety guidelines’.

He said: ‘It's crucial we support families and communities during these devastating times, and ensure they feel part of their loved one's funeral even if they can't physically attend.’

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