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Supporting families bereaved during pandemic 


The challenges of being a funeral director during a pandemic are significant writes Norwich Christian director Kevin Cobbold.

As the number of deaths from coronavirus approaches the 40,000 mark, we are keenly aware of the importance of paying attention to the almost daily updates as to the changes in the rulings governing what is allowed at funerals, how the Coroner and registration processes are carried out and what PPE should be used.

We must support families with social distancing and rein in our instinct to shake hands, place a supportive hand on a shoulder or arm or give a hug.

So what can we do, as Christian funeral directors, to give families the support that is so crucial when a bereavement has been suffered?

Thankfully, the answer is a lot:

We do not insist that funeral arrangements are carried out over the telephone. Our premises are big enough to allow social distancing and if families prefer to arrange the funeral in their own home, we can suggest that this can be done in their garden or in a larger room indoors if space permits.

We have not banned all viewings of the deceased person in our Chapel of Rest. As long as we keep to the rules of social distancing of people from different households, those very precious visits can still take place. If the person who has died had coronavirus, visits can still take place but with a closed coffin and PPE used.

Although churches are closed, we can make graveside services as uplifting as possible. We can play music and have the same readings and prayers as would happen inside a church. In the Salvation Army our church leaders often remind us that church isn’t about a building – church is the people and can happen anywhere.

Listening and giving people as much time as they need to talk.

We have found that since this pandemic started, so many funerals have been beautifully meaningful with just the very closest and dearest people there.

The wider family and friends have been able to share in the funeral service via webcasts and they are far more inclined to offer ongoing support to the closer family members over those vital weeks after the funeral when the bereaved are often struggling to adjust to normal life.

The hardest part of the funeral process during this pandemic is when the families have to return home after the service with no opportunity to share memories and stories about the person who has died.

We cannot emphasise enough how vital are those caring telephone calls and how giving hope, affirming faith and offering to pray for or with people can make a real difference.

Read more about Kevin Cobbold Funeral Services on this website.

You can contact Kevin Cobbold Funeral Services on 01603 528800 or 07789 586817, email or visit their offices at 109 Cromer Road, Norwich, NR6 6XW.


Published: 03/06/2020