This resource is designed to support those who minister to the bereaved during and after the present conditions of lockdown and social distancing, including those who plan and officiate at funerals. Suggestions of additional resources, examples of good practice, and other suggestions are always welcome; and the webpage will as far as possible be kept up-to-date as circumstances change.
Funerals conducted under present conditions take place under several constraints.
- Very few mourners (sometimes none) can be physically present at the funeral. Many more may be watching a livestream, but they are not aware of one another’s presence in the way that a physical congregation is.
- There is no social gathering after the funeral.
- Funerals cannot take place in church.
- The length of time allowed for a funeral currently varies from one crematorium to another, and may be very brief (as little as 15 minutes in some cases).
- Although a large and varied range of recorded music is available on the Obitus platform which most crematoria use, there is little opportunity for live music, and none at all for genuinely congregational hymn-singing.
- Practices that are important in some cultures – such as having an open coffin, or having the family and friends of the deceased fill in the grave immediately after a burial – are not possible.
A funeral held under these constraints is called here a restricted funeral. All funerals are currently restricted funerals, whether or not Covid-19 was implicated in the person’s death, and so the scope of this webpage goes well beyond the direct victims of the pandemic, although they will of course be the central focus of many of the possible liturgies discussed here.