Bermondsey Funeral Directors Albin says that it will have to further limit those attending burials to family members as the Covid-19 pandemic takes hold.
Tragically the last essential workers on the frontline in the coronavirus outbreak are the funeral directors and while other services like weddings and christenings have been suspended for the time being, funerals are still allowed to take place. However, just how these are arranged given government orders to stay at home and when out to ‘social distance’, is a challenge for all funeral directors.
Last week the News reported how the popular funeral home, with its head office based on the outskirts of Southwark Park, had adapted given the crisis – even launching webcasts at services and the crematorium.
The first family to take up the service was that of 98-year-old Alice Woodgates from Blackfriars. Her service at Honour Oak Cremtorium was live streamed to friends and family and after featuring in the News many more people, that had known the former choir singer, tuned in.
Alice’s daughter-in-law Carol told the News afterwards: “I would recommend to anyone. After the article went out people that we did not know, but had known Alice from say bingo, got in touch and they watched it.
“Of course it was not just as we wanted it, but everyone that wanted to pay their respects could do by so watching it.”
Originally the funeral was planned for in excess of 80 people but had to be limited to just twenty. “And it did feel strange having social distances with people siting apart on pews, but the professionalism and the compassion from Albins was second too none,” she said.
- READ MORE – CORONAVIRUS: 98-YEAR-OLD BLACKFRIARS NIGHTINGALE, WILL BE THE FIRST TO HAVE HER SERVICE LIVE STREAMED FROM THE CREMATORIUM
In the last few days since Alice’s funeral there been even more changes to the way cemeteries and crematoriums operate during the Covid-19 pandemic; Simon Albin Dyer, Joint Managing Director of Albins told the News: “When booking a funeral our arrangers will discuss what is in place at your chosen service venue. For burials the use of the chapel is not permitted, so only graveside services are allowed and with only a limited number of family members. When attending a burial we politely advise people to respect the guidelines on social distancing,” he added.
He said: “We must consider limiting attendees to members of the immediate family who are not in any of the high-risk categories and are not self-isolating.”
The immediate family being are:
- Children (and partners)
But Simon said that while limiting attendees, it must be done sensitively and taking into account individual circumstances.
“For example,” he said, “if the deceased had few, if any immediate, relatives but a close friend wished to attend the service, that would be reasonable or in the case of the death of a grandparent, attendance by the grandchildren would be appropriate.”
The world-renowned funeral home is a local institution, but it is known to millions more for bringing soldiers and civilians back from war zones and places of global disaster; it even featured in a 2003 ITV documentary series Don’t Drop The Coffin. Simon runs it with his brother Jon.
While it is still down to the family to register the death it may take a few days to get an appointment due to a limited service. If families are isolating or unable to leave the house then another family member of friend can register the death. Simon added that at this time funeral directors are not able to register on behalf of the family, but this may change in the near future.
He said: “When arranging a funeral with Albins please advise us as soon as you can if the deceased was infected with the Coronavirus, so our staff can take the necessary precautions when handling the body for their safety.”
And in line with government’s announcements he advised that most arrangements should be made over the phone. “Visits should be kept to a minimum for your safety and to hand over paperwork and clothing and sign paperwork,” Simon explained “Our brochure and services are all available on our website.”
Viewings are still taking place but they will only permit a maximum of two people at a time in the chapel of rest. And Albins are only permitting four persons to travel in their hired limousines with no one allowed in the front: “Due to this restriction we have reduced the cost of our limousines,” he said.
“Whilst these procedures are not ideal and take away some of the personalisation of arranging a funeral we feel the precautions are absolutely necessary for the safety of our dedicated staff and the families we are looking after.
“It is our mission to ensure each funeral is conducted with the same level of care and professionalism whilst working within these limitations and our intention is always to give families the best service we can whilst keeping everyone safe.”
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