There is nothing we can do or say to mitigate your pain of separation, except we will treat your Loved One in our care the same as we would our own, in these unprecedented times. We have had so many sensitive and difficult conversations with the bereaved, many of whom have been separated from hospitalised family members during final days, and who now find that they are unable to say goodbye in the way they expected.
Directors and colleagues in our company recognise that we are in the middle of an unprecedented international situation. We are still making good funeral services from an ever changing situation. We work to the most careful of conflicting advice, to keep any possible cross-transmission minimal between your family, the wider community and ourselves. Safety informs every decision we make. There is no loss of dignity and care to your Loved One.
We update this website page about as changes happen which affect our local funeral arrangements – please look at it for advice. www.hwfunerals.co.uk/coronavirus
Thank you so much for reading
Mrs Carol Lawrence BSc (Hons) Cert FAA (Distinction)
On behalf of all Directors
For your safety and comfort, conversations about funerals, plans, urns and headstones are taking place on the telephone (and by video Skype if preferred).
In order to prevent the spread of infection, our four funeral homes are open for short pre-booked appointments for the following purposes:
In line with new government guidelines, we ask that you use a face mask when you come into our premises, and on funerals.
Because of track and trace requirements all callers to offices must leave contact details in case they stay for longer than 15 minutes, which we wish to avoid for face to face meetings.
We have hand sanitiser and disposable face masks available at all our locations, but please bring your own reusable face mask if you have one.
If you are local it is no problem for us to deliver documentation or ashes items on appointment.
The way in which we are able to communicate with our customers has changed until lockdown measures are over. For example, most documents are being exchanged by email. We recommend that a member of your family provide us with their email address if you do not have use of a computer.
Appointments will be conducted either over the phone or Skype to try and maintain the personal connection with you.
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 strongly recommend that funerals are not delayed. Some deaths will be subject to coroner’s jurisdictions which will have naturally longer timescales.
There is a longer term care facility in Kent run by another family funeral services that we recommend, until more carrier flights resume. Please see our repatriation page.
Firstly, each of our funeral homes behaves as its own household, which means that your household and our own “work households” need to remain separated as physically separated as possible based on government advice. All hospitals and care homes have this policy, to protect transmission from each other unknowingly, especially with regards to key workers like ourselves, and so this is our policy too.
When the deceased are brought into our care from private homes and residential homes after a GP has confirmed an expected death, we will use protective clothing in all cases as well as protective covering for the deceased.
At present local registrars are producing death certificates via telephone calls. Respondents may not necessarily be next of kin, and the registrars will advise you accordingly. Please attend to death registration at the earliest time, giving our email address email@example.com so registrars can provide us with documentation.
Currently we cannot invite families to wash and dress their Loved Ones because of social distancing limitations, but this will be carefully carried out as per your instructions. We will light candles and incense when preparing the deceased on request and play any music or prayers if you are able to send us a link to a piece of music from the internet. Your loved one will be well taken care of in our funeral homes.
There is now the possibility of an open coffin in a chapel of rest, with 2 mourners at any one time, but at increased cost due to a higher level of embalming required (which is a current company policy for open coffin).
Priests, ministers and celebrants will still help your family with the content of the funeral service by telephone, through letter boxes, and through new technology video conferencing. Face to face meetings will take place if possible, in large indoor spaces if available or in gardens.
With pre-planning and risk assessment it can be possible to bring a coffin into your home for a short while before a service. PPE may be worn.
The coffin in the hearse can stop for a while outside your home immediately prior a funeral service, for prayers to be said and for neighbours to pay respects. This could be helpful if there are close family members too frail to attend the funeral, or if they are self-isolating.
While self isolation is recommended for at-risk groups, these groups are now permitted to attend the funeral service of an immediate family member if you are able to keep the recommended social distance and are free of symptoms.
Here is the link to the current government advice on attendance https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic.
Larger venues may be able to accommodate a higher number of family and close friends whilst still maintaining social distancing of 6ft/2m between people of different households.
Please ask all mourners to bring face masks in case they become compulsory – and own pens if track and trace information is requested (data protection rules apply). (We will have spares of both available and ask for donations to St Francis Hospice.)
PLACES OF WORSHIP
Each place of worship, if they have chosen to open for funerals at present, has a different number of people who can be safely accommodated, so we will check each time for you, usually 30 at most depending on size.
On arrival and departure to crematoria and cemeteries, mourners are asked to thoroughly sanitise hands with their own or chapel supply, or use hand washing facilities on site. Our hearse and limousines always have a supply of hand sanitiser, and we provide sanitiser when there is none provided on site.
It’s not permitted to touch the coffin once in position in a chapel, to keep down transmission risk, so curtains will need to close.
Coffin and casket choice is sometimes limited due to frequency of supply. Woven and plain cardboard caskets are not currently permitted in some venues. In order to avoid disappointment, we will ask you for a first and second choice.
This week our local places of funeral ie crematoria and cemeteries have set new rules to interpret government instruction in other settings, and request everyone wear face masks inside on funerals.
There should be an exemption for ministers and conductors, who have to be able to make themselves heard and understood clearly.
We provide everyone travelling in a limousine a care pack including a facemask.
Some spares will be carried by the conductor.
and here is the government advice about making own masks, which can be as simple as a clean scarf or bandana.
Yes. This is a requirement from this week. Hopefully we will be able to help you fill them in before the funeral.
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. This may also be possible with a wheeled bier. We will provide disposable gloves and masks.
In chapels with moveable seating, they can be placed in household groups, and we would ask you to maintain your own household social distancing in chapels with fixed seating.
Small details throughout the funeral service may be different in order to preserve a more hygienic environment. For example, prayer books, bibles and song books are put away during the duration of the pandemic.
Service Booklets can still be printed, for which we can produce if wanted in order to provide lovely mementoes during a time of sadness, and provide hymn words where no hymn books are on display. Service booklets can also be posted to those who aren’t able to attend.
Most churches are not having singing in services at the moment as it can increase airborne risk.
Most venues if singing was avoided during this time.
At this time, there will generally be a limit of two mourners permitted for witnessed cremation.
Witnessed backfilling for burials is unfortunately suspended for the time being.
Yes these are again now available, usually partitioned from the driver, and we recommend only people from the same household in each vehicle. Limousines are fully sanitised before their arrival to your family home. Care packs are provided for each passenger including a disposable face mask.
For helping with people in wheelchairs, we have several licensed local black cab operators who have given us their details, with fully partitioned and pre-sanitised seating areas.
We are working with some very good local florists. However, please bear in mind that there may be limited choice of blooms and at least three working days notice is needed for order.
Horse and horse drawn hearse is a service that is still permitted at most sites (Bentley Cemetery and Crematorium is the exception to this) and can be a great option for families to add a personal touch to a funeral and create a special memory even if the day itself cannot be all that you’d hoped.
Doves can be released from cages rather than from cupped hands.
For those unable to attend a funeral service during this time for whatever reason, technology can truly be a saving grace and a way to connect with those we love most to say goodbye to our loved ones. Many crematoria or cemetery chapels have audio and visual recording facilities to achieve this (but not all, for example, City of London Cemetery and Crematorium does not have webcasting and recording facilities).
However, it is always important to remember that webcast from any sources are not 100% reliable because of variable broadband signal, and so recording is important to avoid disappointment. Recordings sent by email is achievable if webcast is difficult due to technical limitations.
There may be the possibility that a director could zoom broadcast and record a funeral service if that is the only way of achieving a broadcast or recording.
There are no restrictions for families to record funeral services on telephones and personal cameras, which can be broadcast through own applications like Zoom, Facebook Live, FaceTime, WhatsApp. We also have some tripod selfie sticks which can be borrowed (please ask in advance), which can allow you to achieve the recording to share with your loved ones who are unable to attend the service.
An unattended service may be a viable option for some families, especially where all relatives and close friends are unable to attend due to illness. During this kind of funeral, there are no mourners present. However, we are still able to stop outside a family home with the hearse, with coffin and flowers in order to provide that more personal connection.
A minister can still attend on your family’s behalf to give a chapel service at the place of funeral, or outside one of our funeral homes with the hearse, or outside a family home, even if there are no mourners present. One of our own colleagues can say personal messages on your behalf. All these events can be recorded by venues’ systems, director’s zoom, or by telephone.
We know how important funerals are for remembering someone who has passed and so we are more than happy to record any unattended service on a company computer or phone to send to you immediately. We can also take photos of flowers, return floral tribute cards or even place a local newspaper announcement where you can thank everyone for their support.
One of the most important parts of the funeral process for many families is the receiving of their loved ones ashes and the subsequent scattering of them. During the pandemic, ashes collection at most crematoria is currently restricted to funeral directors, and ashes burials will be delayed.
However, we can look after ashes at no cost until the situation is over, and if you live local to us we are able to deliver ashes to your doorstep. If you would prefer an unattended ashes burial at the crematorium where the funeral took place, this can be arranged free of charge.
Cemeteries are again open for private visits of mourners to lay flowers and tend to graves. Please check with each cemetery for current opening times.
On-site choice of graves is generally suspended at present.
Memorial re-fixing or fitting in all cemeteries has only recently re-started, and stonemasons are catching up with work, so please bear with us.
During this time, there are many reasons why you might not be able to attend funerals of loved ones, whether it be due to illness, time constraints or lockdown measures prohibiting us from doing so.
These rules are, understandably, causing great emotional distress to thousands of people. But there are still ways to bring meaning and find solace in these difficult times. Compiled with the support of independent funeral directors from around the UK, here is our advice for remembering a loved one, if you’re unable to attend a funeral or want to do something beyond watching a service on FaceTime or via a webcast.
And remember, don’t be alone during this time of isolation. Keep in touch with friends and family even if you don’t feel like it. Your local places of worship are always ready to help. You could ask us about other local bereavement support. Whilst these groups won’t be meeting in person at the moment, there is likely to be some who will talk on the phone or via video conference call. As a result of social distancing measures, bereavement support is being adapted, meaning support is still available. There are also free online bereavement services, such as SAIF Care Chat, which is available at saif.org.uk or 9am-9pm weekdays 0800 917 7224. St Francis Hospice Orangeline is on 01708 758649 9am-5pm weekdays.