We are all having to adapt over almost every aspect of life at the moment, and none more so than the way we handle the difficult time when someone dear to us passes away; we hear about the sensitive way our local funeral directors are adapting.
John Adams of Perry and Phillips Funeral Directors of Bridgnorth, a family-run business that has served Bridgnorth since 1835, gives an insight into some of the restrictions in place and how funeral directors can provide meaningful and personal funeral services despite current restrictions, working with families to continue to make funeral services a personal and individual tribute as well as a very special occasion.
“Most local crematorium will only accommodate a maximum of ten mourners; council cemeteries between five and ten. Because all church services are now suspended, graveside ceremonies in churchyards can accept up to an absolute maximum of ten, who must be immediate family members – spouse, parents, brothers and sisters and partners, sons and daughters and partners and if necessary their carer. No other person should be in attendance and unfortunately no mourner over the age of 70. Social distancing must also be maintained at all times. This is very difficult for bereaved families.”
Other example of restrictions are that no hymns or songs can be sung at ceremonies, in an attempt to reduce the risk of cross infection from airbourne particles and no collection boxes can be provided, again, because of the risk of cross-infection.”
But there are things that can be done to empower a bereaved family, says John, to give them back some control and Perry and Phillips Funeral Directors, along with many other funeral providers in Shropshire, are coming up with all sorts of ideas to personalise each ceremony and try to make it special.
“Examples that have been helpful locally include arranging for family, friends, neighbours and workmates to line the route of the cortege to pay their respects; some standing quietly and reflecting – or applause – as the hearse goes by. Because funeral directors are not permitted to provide mourning coaches due to social distancing, novel forms of transport have emerged, some even following the hearse on their bicycles, others walking behind in the very traditional way. We have also created special routes for the cortege.
“Another helpful thing has been to broadcast a webcast of services, enabling mourners to watch from their homes through computers. There can be recorded music at those ceremonies – often important songs in the lives of the deceased. Rather than flowers, we’ve found nice ideas are for mourners to write letters to the deceased which can be placed into the coffin, putting everything into that letter that they would want the deceased to know and encouraging mourners to wear personalised clothing.
“There are many ways that a funeral service can be personalised during this terribly difficult time. Funeral directors cannot make a funeral service ‘not sad’; every funeral service is terribly sad, some more than others, but they certainly do not have to be miserable, grim occasions. With a bit of guidance, goodwill from the officiant and crematorium, burial authority or diocese, funeral services can still be meaningful, personal and important.”