Tag: Coronavirus Pandemic

What to say when someone dies

When somebody dies it can be difficult to know what to say. If someone has lost their mother, father, sibling or friend, it is normal to worry that we might offend them or make things worse, but it’s more hurtful to say nothing at all.

Here are a few things that you can do:

  • Acknowledge the person’s death
  • When you are searching for what to say when someone dies, don’t be afraid to state what a terrible thing it is to have happened. Do it in a way that feels natural.

  • Talk about the person that has died
  • One of the main things that people find difficult after someone dies is when no one talks about their loved one anymore. Sharing a memory and saying things like ‘they were so funny’, or ‘I remember this about her so clearly…’ can open up an opportunity for them to talk.

  • Express your own sadness
  • When someone dies it can leave many people feeling shell-shocked and sad. It’s okay to share your own feelings of sadness, but avoid implying to people closer to them that your feelings are the same.

  • Be empathetic
  • Regardless of how sad you’re feeling, or your own experiences of a loved one dying, you should never assume that someone who has been bereaved feels the same. Saying ‘I can’t imagine how it feels for you,’ acknowledges that their grief is unique, not that you don’t sympathise with them.

  • Accept anger
  • Don’t let fear of tears or anger hold you back from expressing words of sympathy. If a person is grieving after someone dies don’t try and explain or fix something that’s been taken badly. Just say sorry.

  • Keep in touch
  • After a funeral support can gradually – or suddenly – disappear, but the bereaved person is still grieving for their loved one. This can leave people feeling very isolated. Asking them ‘what’s life like now?’ and ‘how are you coping?’ can be really helpful.

End of 2020 will see 1.6M funeral plans in force

By the end of 2020, it is estimated that there will be almost 1.6 million new funeral plans sold, according to recent research.

Market research consultancy, IRN Research, this week published the ‘Funeral Plans Consumer Research Report 2020’ which looks at the pre-paid funeral plan market and sets that into the context of how consumers pay for their funeral. It considers consumer use of funeral plans and other means they use to pay for their funeral, especially over50s insurance. It includes an assessment of the size of the market and its trends, and profiles of leading suppliers.

While the number has continued to rise in recent years, there has been a notable slowdown in growth in recent years. The number of new sales has declined steadily since 2016 mainly because of competition from over50s life insurance policies. Like the UK economy, the funeral plan market has faced a roller coaster year in 2020 because of COVID-19. As a result of COVID-19, net new sales in 2020 (gross sales less plans drawn down) are expected to be only around one-quarter of the number seen in 2019.

There are results from a nationally representative survey of 2,093 consumers exploring their understanding of funeral plans, and a survey of 196 consumers that have funeral plans. The funeral plan market is being reshaped today by a number of key factors, including:

  • COVID-19, leading to a significant rise in deaths in 2020 and possibly into 2021, thereby increasing the number of plans drawn down and making it harder for funeral directors to sell new plans.
  • Increasing competition from substitute products like over 50s life insurance and traditional life insurance.
  • The continued rise in funeral costs.
  • Proposed new FCA regulation of funeral plans, which will significantly raise costs for plan providers and possibly prevent some from selling new policies.

Dealing with funeral costs

If you arrange the funeral with a funeral director, you’re responsible for the costs. You should ask to see a price list before choosing a funeral, or explain how much you have to spend and see what services are possible.

The person who died might have paid for their funeral already. This is called a funeral plan. If you don’t know if there’s a funeral plan, you can:

  • check the will
  • ask the person’s close friends and relatives
  • ask local funeral directors

You might be able to get help paying for the funeral if you’re on benefits. Check if you can get a Funeral Expenses Payment on GOV.UK.

Getting a written estimate

Once you’ve chosen the funeral, you should be given a written estimate giving a breakdown of all of the costs involved. Ask for one if it’s not provided.

If you want to compare costs, you can contact other funeral directors, or ask someone else to help you with this.

Paying for the funeral

Some funeral directors might ask for a deposit before making the funeral arrangements.

You may be offered a discount to pay for the funeral before or soon after it takes place. If you know the money will be released at a later date to cover the cost, you might want to consider a bank loan or overdraft to pay early.

Money may be released later, if the person who has died made arrangements to pay for their funeral through an insurance or other policy, or if money is released after their estate has been dealt with.

If there is a legal claim for negligence against someone for the death, the cost of the funeral can be claimed as compensation.

Otherwise, you may agree payment by instalment, or pay after the legal process of dealing with the person’s estate has been settled.

Only 15 mourners allowed at wakes under new Covid rules – yet 30 can go to funerals

A new limit has been put on the number of people allowed to attend gatherings after funerals as Boris Johnson unveiled a three-tier lockdown system for England.

Only 15 mourners can attend a wake under the latest coronavirus rules.

Boris Johnson unveiled a new three-tier lockdown system, where areas across England will be labelled as ‘medium’, ‘high’ or ‘very high’ risk of coronavirus.

The new rules are suppose to “simplify and standardise our local rules”, the Prime Minister said, as well as stamping out the spread of the virus in areas where it is spiralling out of control.

But the fine print of the rules reveals a number of quirks in the system.

Funerals are permitted to go ahead with up to 30 mourners regardless of the Covid-19 alert level.

A report from the Mirror advises that:

The number allowed to attend a wake has been cut to 15 in Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 areas.

Government guidance did not previously include a 15-person limit on gatherings after a funeral service.

The existing social distancing rules continue to apply, such as keeping two metres apart and wearing a face covering indoors.

Wedding ceremonies can go ahead as long as there are no more than 15 guests

But receptions will be completely banned in areas in the strictest ‘Tier 3’ lockdown.

Coronavirus and Funerals: FAQs

Can I arrange a funeral during the pandemic?

Yes, you can still go ahead and arrange a funeral. Please be aware that while funeral homes will remain open, funerals should be arranged over the phone or via other electronic means, wherever possible.

Can I arrange a funeral if I have coronavirus symptoms?

If you or anyone else involved in arranging a funeral has symptoms of coronavirus, or has tested positive for the infection, please remain self-isolated and follow the government’s advice. You can still arrange a funeral online, or over the phone.

Can I attend a funeral during the pandemic?

The government has advised that funeral services should be restricted to the smallest possible number of attendees to help reduce the risk of spreading the infection. Numbers can be determined by the size and circumstance of the venue.

You should only consider attending a funeral if you are a member of the same household or immediate family member*. People who are clinically vulnerable can attend, with measures put in place to reduce their risk. Additionally, people self-isolating because someone in their household is ill may attend if they do not have symptoms themselves.

However, if you do attend, be sure to observe social distancing guidelines of two metres from other people, and do not make physical contact with anyone from outside of your household.

Any individual displaying symptoms of coronavirus should not attend.

*Immediate family is defined as:

  • Spouse/partner
  • Parents/carers
  • Brothers/sisters
  • Children (and partners)

How should I let people know about an upcoming funeral?

The government has advised that you do not publicly advertise the time or location of a funeral. This reduces the risk of others arriving unexpectedly.

If anyone unexpected does turn up, they may be turned away, which could be distressing for them and the bereaved family.

Is there any way that I can view a service online?

Yes, there are several ways that funeral services can be viewed over the internet. The most common way is via webcasting, or live streaming. Many funeral directors now offer this service which allows many people to attend a funeral, without putting anyone at risk.

How funerals have been affected by Covid-19

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.

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