This is a changing situation for everyone, to keep transmission risk low throughout the country.
Overall, we ask if you can consider making very simple arrangements.
All our four funeral homes remain open for administration only. To help with risk reduction guidelines we will help you arrange funerals over the telephone, email, post and other methods of communication like “FaceTime” on mobile telephones where possible. (At present we cannot source any webcams for Zoom and Skype.)
We can exchange documents by email – if you do not have a home computer yourself, please can you try to find a member of your close family who has, and have an email address ready to give us?
Our telephone lines are always staffed for emergencies by our own local call-out team, and our four funeral homes are still manned (and “womanned”) Monday-Friday 9am-5pm and Saturdays 10am-Midday. There may be occasions that you may be asked to leave an answerphone message, but we will respond to you usually within the hour.
We will maintain our emergency service to bring deceased into our care from private homes after GPs have confirmed an expected death. We will use extra protective uniform in all cases, to help keep community risk of transmission as low as possible. We will ask if attending family or staff can be at a minimum in any home so we can maintain government advised “social distancing” of 6ft/2m from each other.
Funeral attendees are limited very low numbers of immediate family, to maintain “social distancing.” Ten or less immediate family at the moment is the current guide in most local crematoria chapels (and in Havering burial chapels) which can be enforced. Other cemeteries specify outdoor graveside services only, of very low numbers of immediate family. We have lots of umbrellas. There is limited parking for the South Essex Crematorium available next to the cafe (cafe closed at present) plus parking available in Upminster Cemetery next door. City of London Cemetery and Crematorium services are limited to the modern chapels, which are larger spaces, and strict social distancing can be managed amongst households of immediate family members which we can talk about with you. Generally there’s a limit of two mourners for witnessed cremation, and grave witnessed backfilling is currently suspended. Places of worship are closed at present.
Even in your bereavement please pay the highest attention to government guidelines regarding risk transmission reduction – current advice is that members of the same household as an infected person or someone showing symptoms such as a new dry cough or a raised temperature should self-isolate for at least 14 days before coming into contact with anyone else. If you have had the symptoms yourself then self-isolation is at least 7 days. These guidelines still apply for attending funerals, with home isolation recommended over 70s, pregnant women and those with particular chronic conditions. See links below. We’re still not sure about self-isolation in cases where someone has had the virus and now other people in their house are now suffering or not contracted yet – please stay on the safe side of guidelines.
We strongly recommend that funerals take place at the soonest time (guideline 7-10 days if there is no coroner’s involvement). Further restrictions on attendance may come into force and this timescale would currently give the best chance of close family being able to attend.
We ask that you give us maximum flexibility in funeral scheduling both the day and the time of a funeral. Restaurants and pubs are currently closed. Our own fees are always reduced Monday-Thursday for funerals that start by 11am or between 3.30-4.30pm.
Coffin and casket choice will be limited due to both regulation and supply. Natural woven caskets and plain brown cardboard coffins are not permitted at present. We will ask you for a first choice and a limited availability second choice.
Currently we do not offer use of limousines because of being unable to maintain “social distance.” Please use own family & friends’ cars with few people in each leaving some “space.”
On arrival and departure to crematoria and cemeteries, mourners are asked to thoroughly sanitise hands with own supply, or use hand washing facilities on site.
In order to maintain “social distance,” family members who wish to carry their Loved Ones’ coffin can do so if there are at least four fit and healthy people from the same household, and it may also be possible with a wheeled bier.
When the corona situation has abated then a fuller memorial service can take place for your loved one by eg ashes dispersal or headstone completion, especially where key members of your family may not be able to attend through self-isolating etc. We’d be pleased to help with taking people to memorial services in our limousines (at reduced cost) at that time.
At present local registrars are producing death certificates via telephone calls (not necessarily next of kin – registrars will advise you).
We cannot make appointments for chapel of rest visits at this time with either closed or open coffin for reasons of limiting staff exposure to visitors.
We cannot currently make appointments for family washing of the deceased, and sadly no hospitals can offer this facility either, again because of limiting exposure of ourselves to visitors. We will however on request light incense when preparing the deceased, and play any music or prayers you send us on a link.
We aim to keep an advisable minimum 6 feet/2 metres distance between others in our work at the time of a funeral.
Priests, ministers and celebrants can help your family with the content of the funeral service by telephone, by letterbox and new technology to keep face-to-face contact to a minimum, much as they would like to do otherwise.
Double service times could be booked (we will not increase our own fees but there will be more payable for the cemetery/crematorium), which can be a way of making up for the disappointment of not being able to have a coffin back home.
Many crematoria/cemetery chapels have audio and visual recording facilities eg Forest Park, Bentley and the large chapel in South Essex for mourners unable to attend. Webcast is not always available as advertised because of technical difficulties brought about by demand at present, but recordings will be available through email – please do not rely on any of these services because we have already had disappointed families where these systems are entirely out of funeral directors’ control.
There are no restrictions in recording funeral services on telephones and personal cameras, which can also be broadcast through applications like Facebook Live, FaceTime, WhatsApp. Please bring your own “selfie stick” or tripod to achieve a recording/Facebook etc broadcast on your own fully charged mobile phone (make sure your calls and messages are on silent)? We believe this is the best way to achieve a recording that you can share with family.
Suggestion – An “unattended” service is another choice, especially where all family have been exposed to a person with the virus. We could still stop outside a family home with the hearse, with coffin and flowers, a minister could still give a chapel service at the place of funeral, or say prayers in one of our chapels of rest. We could record any service on a company telephone to send to you immediately, take photos of flowers, still return flower cards, have a newspaper announcement where you can thank everyone for their support. A lovely memorial service could be planned for a few months time. We are putting together a package for this circumstance now.
Hymn books, bibles, religious books are put away at the moment in all buildings, and individual song sheets or order of service booklets used instead.
At the point of committal prayer at cremation, curtains will be closed before mourners leave the chapel, to avoid contamination of the coffin.
Pre-purchasing and on-site choice of graves is very restricted or suspended at present depending on the cemetery.
Memorial re-fixing/fitting in all cemeteries are suspended until further notice.
Ashes collection at most crematoria is now restricted to funeral directors, and collection where possible may be delayed. We can look after ashes at no cost until the situation is over, and where local we are able to deliver ashes to your doorstep. Free “unattended” ashes burial at a crematorium is always available.