Darryl Smith, General Manager Funeral Division

The Heart of England Co-operative Society’s Funeral Division helps bereaved families understand what lockdown means to funerals

Monday, March 30, 2020

Bereaved families are facing added confusion on top of grief as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc on the nation, with the most common question being ‘Can I still have a funeral for my loved one?’

With the banning of social gatherings, and the UK’s death toll rising each day, many people are wondering whether Boris Johnson’s nationwide lockdown means they are able to attend their loved ones’ funerals.

Darryl Smith, who heads up The Co-operative Funeralcare in Coventry, Warwickshire, south Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, is acutely aware of the pressures this is placing on families who have lost loved ones.

He said: “Planning our loved ones’ funerals is already one of life’s most difficult experiences and to have these restrictions imposed in the wake of this extraordinary situation is understandably further adding to that grief.

“There is so much confusion and we are doing everything we can to support our client families in line with government guidelines.

“It is for this reason that we have compiled a list of client families’ most frequently asked questions, to provide peace of mind and help families seek clarity.”


Can I still arrange a funeral?

Absolutely. However, given the current conditions we are now only making funeral arrangements over the telephone.

Any visits to our funeral homes need to be made by appointment and we can only have a maximum of two people present at any meeting. We will continue to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by telephone and will answer emails from our ‘Contact Us’ page on our website as soon as practicable.

I’m self-isolating but need to arrange a funeral.

As we are now making all funeral arrangements over the telephone this is not a problem so please call us and we will advise and guide you through what we need to do. We will email and / or post forms and documents to you which are necessary to make the funeral arrangements.

What’s changed for funeral services?

We are following government advice which is being updated frequently due to these unprecedented conditions.

This has meant that much of what we used to provide has changed. Now we are:

Restricting face to face meetings
Practising social distancing
We have stopped providing limousines and request that you use your own transport
Cemeteries, church groups and other venues have put in place strict restrictions on the type of services available and the number of people who can attend those services due to ‘social distancing’ advice
We may have to stop offering an embalming service soon
We have had to ask that anyone from the higher risk groups (over 70s, pregnant, immunocompromised), should not attend either the arrangements or the funeral.
We have had to remove the choice and flexibility in relation to choosing a day and time for the service
Currently burial and cremation is available, but this may change in the coming weeks following further government advice
As time goes on we may have a reduced level of staff available to arrange and / or conduct the funeral

Can I still attend a funeral?

The number of people who can attend a funeral is now limited at various cemeteries and crematoriums. Therefore if you’re planning to attend you should check with the person who’s arranging the funeral. If you are attending please continue to follow the government advice ensuring you wash your hands regularly and as hard it may be to do so, avoid close contact with other mourners.

Will the funeral be delayed because of coronavirus?

We are working towards ensuring that all funerals take place as soon as possible. It is for this reason we are no longer able to offer choices in the day and time of the service.

Are there any restrictions on the type of funeral for someone who has died from coronavirus?

Currently there are no restrictions in Coventry & Warwickshire )that prevent someone who has died from coronavirus from having a funeral, whether a cremation or a burial.

Can I still visit my loved one in the chapel of rest?

At this time you can continue to visit loved ones in our care. We do ask that only immediate family or close friends do this and there is a maximum of two visitors to the funeral home at any one time and that where requested you limit your time to 20 minutes per visit. This is to comply with government advice to keep gatherings down to small numbers and to enable us to manage our resources which may be limited. We also require you to call in advance and book an appointment as this way we can ensure that we limit the number of visitors to the funeral home at any one time.

We also have hand washing facilities and hand sanitiser available in all our funeral homes.

If your loved one’s death was coronavirus related we are currently not permitting chapel visits on our premises. This is to prevent further onward infection and to keep you safe. We can however arrange for you to spend time with your loved one in our chapel of rest by having the coffin sealed closed.

What should I do if I can’t afford to pay for the funeral?

We understand that a funeral can be an unexpected cost. If during the funeral arrangement you feel like the funeral is costing more than you are comfortable with, please tell our colleagues. We know that money can be difficult at this time so please don’t hesitate to speak to us about ways to keep the cost down.

Can I still follow religious customs?

As we need to follow government advice it’s highly likely that funerals carried out in this time will not be how you or the deceased would have originally wanted the funeral to be. We want to reassure you we will do everything we can to help you to say goodbye. We will guide you on the options and choices available. Your Funeral Director will be able to advise on specific rituals and customs.


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