Faith, worship, funerals and bereavement

Funerals and mourning

Funerals can take place. Burials and cremations are both permitted.

Up to 30 family members and friends can attend, depending on the capacity of the venue. The venue must have enough space for you to follow social distancing guidelines. Check with the venue or your funeral director.

Read the government guidance for managing a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic.

Planning a funeral

Please don’t delay holding funerals. Coronavirus safety measures will be in place for the foreseeable future.

Please consider all options to hold the funeral as soon as possible. These include:

  • web-casting it so people who cannot attend can see it
  • holding it at a location or time of day that would not be your first choice
  • having a short service or
  • having no mourners present on the day and organising a memorial service at a later date

Your funeral director can talk through the options and help you decide what is best for you.

You can hold pre-funeral and post-funeral ceremonies. Follow government guidance on Staying alert and safe (social distancing).

Attending funerals

You should note the following:

  • you must wear a face covering inside the funeral venue, unless you have a valid exemption
  • stay at least two metres (six feet or three paces) apart during funerals and when travelling to and from them
  • practise strict hand and respiratory hygiene. Wash your hands more often than usual or use hand sanitiser. Cover coughs and sneezes. There may be mourners present who are clinically extremely vulnerable or vulnerable
  • avoid singing, chanting, raised voices or blowing into musical instruments. These raise the risk of transmission from aerosol and droplets
  • you should not attend if you show coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms. Symptoms include a high temperature, new continuous cough or loss of taste or smell. Immediately self-isolate at home for at least 10 days and get tested. Request a test online, or by phoning 119 if you do not have internet access
  • if you are clinically extremely vulnerable or vulnerable, you may be able to attend. Please speak to your funeral director
  • if you are self-isolating because somebody in your household has symptoms you may be able to attend. If you do, let others know your household is self-isolating. Do not attend at the same time as somebody who is clinically extremely vulnerable or vulnerable

If you are unable to attend

If you are unable to attend the funeral reflect at home on the day.

Some cemeteries and crematoria can web-cast the funeral for family and friends. Please check with your local cemetery or crematorium.

What to do it the deceased had coronavirus

Take extra precautions if the deceased had coronavirus:

  • mourners are strongly advised not to take part in rituals or practices that bring them into close contact with the body. This includes washing, preparing and dressing the body. There is a small but real risk of infection from the deceased
  • only have contact with the body if you are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and are supervised by someone trained in how to use it
  • clinically extremely vulnerable and vulnerable people are strongly advised to have no contact with the deceased
  • the deceased will go to a temporary mortuary between death and the funeral. You will not be able to see them there or bring them home for mourning or a wake
  • members of the deceased's household should self-isolate for 14 days. They should not mix with other mourners at the funeral

Mourning

Whilst mourning the death of your loved one, do:

  • think about arranging a memorial or wake later in the year or the following year
  • seek your faith leader's advice about ways to mourn while observing your faith during the pandemic
  • seek bereavement support from your faith group or voluntary sector organisations

Remembering loved ones

The pandemic prevents people mourning and remembering loved ones in the usual ways. There are other ways to do so.

You can post tributes online to remember individuals and share in collective grief.

You can remember somebody who has died in Essex as a result of the coronavirus pandemic at www.rememberme2020.uk

This national book of remembrance is open to people of any religious faith or none. It is a space to remember anybody who has died in the UK as a result of the pandemic, whether they had COVID-19 or not.

You could also remember somebody by, for instance creating a special spot in your home or garden, creating and sharing a playlist of their favourite music, posting a tribute in a local newspaper or sharing memories in a social media group.

More information

You may also wish to visit our pages on What to do when someone dies.

Last updated 2 September 2020

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