Choosing not to attend a funeral
How is Coronavirus affecting funerals?
Two weeks ago I had the privilege of meeting a wonderful family in their home. Their mother had just passed following a long term illness (not coronavirus). We shared a cup of tea whilst they cried, laughed and recounted many beautiful stories from her life.
The lady had been poorly for so long that her death had came as a sad, but welcome release. They were obviously distraught at her loss but they were also looking forward to an uplifting ceremony that would celebrate her earlier years and vitality.
Over a couple of days I prepared a beautiful ceremony for their mum. It had a combination of eulogy, music and readings that the family had chosen and I looked forward to honouring her memory.
Until last week. The government is advising us to social distancing and they called to ask…
“Is is awful that we are considering not attending mums service?”.
“What happens at a direct cremation?”
Of course it isn’t awful. In fact it is very understandable that they are now quite rightly thinking about their own health. Their father is in the vulnerable category as are many other mourners that would attend.
Sadly within a few days I think it will be a decision that will be taken away from families. It looks likely that all funerals will be forced to move to direct cremation.
No service currently means that the deceased is still driven to chapel by the funeral directors. They will then be taken directly to cremation without a gathering or funeral ceremony as has already happened in Leeds.
My heart breaks for this family making such a tough choice. But ultimately I am sure that their mother wouldn’t want them to put their own lives at risk whilst marking her death.
It goes against all of our expectations not to have a funeral. But we are going to have to revise the ways in which we say our final farewells.
For the time being traditional funerals are going to be on hold whilst we create new rituals following death. Memorials will have to be focused on memories rather than a casket.
The family have decided that they will still hold a memorial service in a few weeks. The process of putting together a ceremony was very cathartic for them as they recalled all her amazing achievements. It has bought back smiles beyond their pain and given them gratitude for her life.
The family particularly enjoyed choosing songs and readings that reflect their mum. It’s incredible how many pieces of music conjure such strong emotions and memories.
I look forward to standing outside in the sunshine and celebrating her life in the coming weeks. That may be either physically with the family or through streaming. But at least we will be able to raise a glass to her memory and be grateful for our own good health.