Disclaimer: Please note that this article will be updated as and when official government advice changes. Information in this article is correct of time of writing – 21/04/2020.
Please view the resources section at the end of this article for direct links to official websites.
Losing a loved one or friend is distressing enough, but when it happens during a time of national crisis, such as the COVID-19 or coronavirus outbreak, it becomes a much more complicated and difficult matter, especially when it comes to commemorating the deceased.
Having the right information and appropriate advice is essential when it comes to making the right decisions at during these unprecedented and tumultuous times. At Voyage, we feel it’s our duty to provide you with the information you need on how to register a death and plan a funeral during the pandemic.
If you do need us during this period, please contact us via our contact form, email, or by calling on 01772 237536.
How can I register a death during the coronavirus outbreak?
Before the pandemic, you would go to your local register office to notify them of the death. An appointment would need to be made in order to do this. However, you can now register the death over the phone or online via the GOV.UK website. This is to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.
However, if you are unable to do this directly, we are able to register the death for you, on your behalf. This may be easier for you, if you are self-isolating or do not have access to a computer.
What are the restrictions on a funeral during the pandemic?
Rules and restrictions on funerals are changing daily during the coronavirus outbreak. We will keep you updated on any of these changes, as and when they happen, but please do refer to the proper authorities for further information. A list of resources has been outlined at the end of this article.
COVID-19 is an infectious disease, which is why large gatherings are no longer allowed to take place and people have been advised to work from home, stay 2 metres apart from each other, and only leave their home when absolutely necessary.
However, funerals are still allowed to go ahead – but with restrictions. This is mainly in relation to the amount of individuals who can attend. Currently, it has been specified that members of the deceased person’s household or close family members are able to attend. This may mean making difficult decisions. Please contact the local authorities to find out what their stance is on attendee numbers – this is something we can do for you.
UPDATE 24/04/2020: New government guidelines have now stated that numbers of people allowed to attend the funeral depend upon the size of the venue and that social distancing (keeping 2 metres apart) should be adhered to. It is still encouraged that no more than 10 individuals attend a funeral.
Some councils across the UK have implemented funeral bans, in order to protect as many people as possible. They are then offering a direct to crematorium funeral, in which no family members are present. We advise contacting your local council directly, or asking Voyage to.
You should also consider whether those who are attending are in a high risk category, which means they are more susceptible to coronavirus.
If you are self-isolating because you either have coronavirus or are showing symptoms of the disease, you should not attend the funeral at all.
If you are religious, you may not be allowed to follow certain rituals that you have been planning to undertake. There is a small risk, for instance, that the virus can be transmitted from the deceased’s body, particularly if they died of COVID-19 or were a carrier of the disease. This means that any close contact with the individual is not recommended and would be strongly advised against. Although this can be difficult to accept, reducing the risk of transmission to others is essential to protect both your family and health workers.
I want to commemorate my loved one properly. What can I do?
As there are so many restrictions in place for funerals, it may be beneficial to plan a full service at a later date. This means you’re still able to commemorate the life of a loved one, but just not straight after they have passed away.
A memorial is an ideal way to bring everyone together who wishes to pay their respects to the individual. You don’t necessarily even need to set a date at this point, but simply make people aware that you’ll be holding a memorial once you’re allowed to.
This can follow a regular funeral, if you wish, or can simply be a celebration of their life. Having longer to plan the memorial means you might think of elements to include that you may not have normally done. Talking these through with your celebrant or funeral director can give you an idea of how to organise this.
We will do our best to fulfil your wishes during this incredibly difficult time, but will advise you on what is achievable and what isn’t. Our funeral care team is here is support and advise you through the death of a loved one during the pandemic – and beyond.
Helpful coronavirus resources
Register a death – GOV.UK
Arranging a funeral – Age UK
The Coronavirus Act 2020 – British Medical Association (BMA)