If only I had a penny for every time someone has asked me in the last week – “Why has the crematorium limited numbers?” and “Does that mean we can’t have a funeral?”. Next week I think we will be asked “What is a Direct Cremation?”.
Losing a loved one at any time is a terrible experience to go through. Grief hurts – it takes your breath away. Yet those first two weeks following a death often fly by. The loss of a loved one triggers weeks of organisation and this often delays our pain – for a while.
The tradition of a funeral is to create a space in time where the true journey of grief begins. A funeral service brings a community together. It brings an opportunity to acknowledge our loss and process our hurt with those we love.
What happens when funeral numbers are restricted? What does Direct Cremation mean?
At the moment we are undergoing a soft ‘lockdown’. Gatherings of more than 2 people are effectively banned – “With the exception of funerals”. Currently a burial or cremation can go ahead with mourners in attendance. However the number of people that can attend has been severely restricted.
How many people can attend a funeral at my local crematorium?
Widney Manor Cemetery, Robin Hood Crematorium, Woodlands in Coleshill and Redditch Crematorium have all limited their numbers to 6 mourners only. Oakley Wood in Leamington has reduced their number to just 4.
Understandably, these limitations may feel restrictive and cruel – unimaginable even. As a funeral celebrant I can share a slightly different perspective. It has undoubtedly been a very busy start to the year with lots of families to support from non-Covid related deaths. However, I have seen the number of mourners attending a service dramatically reduce BEFORE the new restrictions were put in place. In the second week of March many celebrants observed an average attendance of 70 people dwindle overnight to 6.
The painful yet understandable truth is that people are scared of congregating at a funeral. Even if they are ‘allowed to’. Those that DO want to attend often receive requests from their own families not to. Unless you are a very close relation or friend you may feel that it is wiser to protect your own health. (And indeed even immediate family are now taking this decision very seriously!)
Some celebrants are already providing ‘alternative’ services at crematoriums. Sadly we are now preparing for the likelihood that ALL of our deceased may be sent to Direct Cremation.
Direct Cremation – does that mean no funeral to attend ?
Yes – in a nutshell. Direct cremation means no gathering or service. Your Funeral Director will take your loved one to the crematorium by hearse. Once there they will hand the coffin into the care of the crematorium staff. The coffin will be taken directly for cremation.
Are there any alternatives to Direct Cremation?
On the face of it – unfortunately not. The guidelines are set in stone for everyones safety to prevent cross contamination. Currently there is no indication as to when these will be lifted.
Clearly times are changing around us incredibly quickly. Flexibility is going to be the key during these times for everyone! Fortunately many independent celebrants are now able to offer families a ‘virtual’ funeral.
Look online to find a local celebrant that can provide this service. If you ask your Funeral Director to contact them on your behalf their fees will be part of your funeral package.