Faith, worship, funerals and bereavement

Funerals and mourning

Funerals can still take place. Only household members and close family can attend.

‘Close family’ means spouse or partner, parents and children of the deceased. If household members and close family cannot attend, friends may be able to.

Planning a funeral

Please don’t delay holding funerals. Social distancing and restrictions on gatherings will be in place for the foreseeable future for the safety of the public.

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.

Guidance for funerals

You should note the following:

  • the number of mourners must be as low as possible to ensure a safe distance between individuals. Ask your funeral director as arrangements will vary from place to place
  • stay at least two metres (six feet or three paces) apart during funerals and when travelling to and from them
  • don’t attend if you show coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms (a high temperature or new continuous cough)
  • if you have been told to shield yourself at home because you are vulnerable you may be able to attend. Please speak to your funeral director
  • burials and cremations are both permitted
  • you will not be able to bring the deceased home for mourning
  • funerals can only take place at the crematorium or burial grounds
  • Essex County Council and bereavement services are working together to cope with the extra deaths due to coronavirus. They are aiming to enable funerals to take place within the timescales of your faith but this may not always be possible

If you’re unable to attend

If you are self-isolating because a member of your household has coronavirus symptoms but you do not, you may be able to attend. Please speak to your funeral director

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

Some cemeteries and crematoria offer web-casting so the funeral service can be shared with your family and friends. Please check with your local cemetery or crematorium.


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 advice from your faith leader about ways to mourn while observing your faith at this difficult time
  • seek bereavement support from your faith group or voluntary sector organisations

What to do if the deceased had coronavirus

Extra precautions should be taken if the deceased had coronavirus:

  • due to the small but real risk of infection from the deceased, 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
  • only people wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) and under the supervision of someone who is trained in how to use it should have contact with the body
  • vulnerable and extremely vulnerable people are strongly advised to have no contact with the deceased
  • the deceased will be taken 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
  • household members of the deceased should self-isolate for 14 days and not mix with other mourners at the funeral

More information

You may also wish to visit our pages on What to do when someone dies.
Last updated 2 July 2020

Print this page