The coronavirus pandemic has presented an unprecedented set of challenges for bereaved families who are having to arrange funeral services for loved ones, as well as many mourners who wish to pay their final respects.

Whilst funerals are still able to go ahead, there have been some important changes. The National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), alongside several other funeral related organisations, have formed the Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG), which is regularly liaising with government officials and cabinet members on the sector’s response to Covid-19.

Things have now been adapted so that a lot of the legal requirements can be done online, minimising the need for actual contact. The certificate needed to register a death (MCCD) and medical certificates from the hospital, coroner or your doctor are now transferred by email. There are, of course, stringent codes to adhere to in all of this, but the system is working well. Registering a death now cannot be done in person by attending a registry office either, but is instead done by telephone, with the required documentation then emailed to the necessary authorities.

Though government directives are changing all the time, churches and chapels are currently closed, along with all buildings used by the public, such as clubs, pubs and hotels. Graveside services and services at the crematorium are however allowed, albeit with reduced numbers and with everyone strictly observing the two metre social distancing guidelines for the safety of everyone involved.

At present, up to 10 people can attend funerals, which should be only the closest members of the family. In many cases, it is not the way families would like to say farewell and it is especially difficult if the family have not been able to visit their loved one in hospital or a care home. Family members – or very close friends if no family – can attend the service even if they are in the vulnerable category or are self-isolating as long as they do not have symptoms of Covid-19 themselves and that they strictly observe the social distancing rules.

Many families are intending to hold memorial services or celebrations of their loved ones’ lives when the current restrictions are lifted, and there are certainly plans being considered for special services of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for those who have died during this crisis, by the crematoriums, churches and chapels.