Coronavirus and funeral ceremonies.

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Representatives of the funeral sector met with the Cabinet Office on March 17 to discuss how funerals should be conducted in a time of self-isolation and social distancing.

The key outcome is that funerals can continue ‘as normally as possible’ as long as they take into account all the guidelines put in place to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. The guidelines include those covering the general public and specific guidelines to protect staff at funeral directors, crematoriums and cemeteries.

In addition, individual funeral directors, crematoriums and cemeteries are allowed to put in their own safeguards.

IoCF has given guidance to all our members. Your IoCF celebrant knows the restrictions in his or her area and will work closely with you to prepare a ceremony that is unique and respectful to your loved one, but also follows the local requirements. Their priority is to support you as much as possible, while still following official advice on reducing the risk of transmission. This might mean that the initial meeting with the celebrant is over the phone or using alternative communication methods such as Skype and FaceTime. They will also explain to you how funeral ceremonies have had to change.

An IoCF celebrant can also work with you to consider alternatives to a traditional funeral ceremony.

  • Many crematoriums can now stream funerals, which means that family and friends who are confined to their homes will be able to ‘attend’ via their smartphone, tablet or computer. Even if the only people physically attending are the celebrant, the funeral director and the crematorium staff, you will be able to see that the ceremony is dignified and personal.
  • Some IoCF celebrants are offering webinar funeral ceremonies accompanied by a direct cremation. In this case, no one is physically present at the chapel; the ceremony is conducted by the celebrant at an alternative venue with all mourners in the safety of their own homes and again viewing on smartphone, tablet or computer.
  • Alternatively, you may decide to delay any service until later in the year when you can meet safely with the rest of your family, friends and colleagues of your loved one. An IoCF celebrant will help you create a loving ceremony now and be ready to lead it when the time is right.

IoCF celebrants work closely together. Even if your original celebrant falls ill, he or she will arrange for a colleague with the same high professional standards to take the ceremony in their place – one less thing for you to worry about.

The above information and suggestions are likely to change rapidly as the pandemic progresses. The IoCF remains committed to helping you say goodbye to your loved one in a way that is true to their memory and that feels right for you but please be aware that our members will need to change the way they work in response to changing guidelines.

To find an IoCF celebrant local to you, please click on Find a Celebrant at the top of the page.

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