By Sam Tyrer, Funeralcare MD
Lockdown had a profound impact on so many aspects of life, not least on the way in which we say goodbye to our loved ones. Overnight, mourners and grieving families had to scale back and restrict attendance at funerals to a maximum of 10 close family members.
In our new report, A Nation in Mourning, we conducted research to better understand the devastating effect lockdown has had on people. Thousands of lives have been lost, and hundreds of thousands of people haven’t been able to say goodbye to their loved ones as they wished.
One such story is of Ann and George, pictured above on their wedding day. Sadly, George passed away unexpectedly in March aged 82. His funeral couldn’t take place until weeks later, by which time lockdown had commenced and new social distancing guidelines were in effect.
Ann had planned a beautiful tribute and goodbye for George, celebrating his life and the special person he was. Sadly, day by day, her perfect farewell was slowly taken away, being stripped and paired back as coronavirus spread across the country. There was no fresh floral tribute, no limousine, and their chosen crematorium no longer permitted services or attendees.
Ann’s heart breaking story isn’t an isolated incident. It’s estimated that over 9.7 million mourners have been unable to attend a loved one’s funeral throughout this pandemic. Experts believe that we’re on the brink of a grief pandemic as we deal with the after-effects of being unable to properly say goodbye.
Our colleagues have been brilliant throughout all of this. Together, we’ve thought on our feet and adapted, finding new ways to make the process a little easier for the families we look after.
Jean Breckenbury sadly passed away from coronavirus whilst with her family in West Sussex, and her funeral took place at Chichester Crematorium. As most of her family were up north and couldn’t travel due to restrictions, her son Alan printed pictures of their loved ones and we placed them on the seats in the crematorium. Jean’s service was livestreamed so her family and friends could still be part of the day in some small way.
Where do we go from now?
Now that lockdown is lifting slowly, families are again starting to be able to plan their perfect celebrations for their loved ones in their own special way once again. But what about everyone who’s been left behind throughout the pandemic?
Grief continues to be difficult to deal with long after death, and we’re trying our best to be there for everyone who has been affected. Whether that’s arranging remembrance services, providing advice on other forms of remembrance, or by helping to connect them with services to support them through their grief – we’re there for them.
Grief never really goes away. Sometimes it helps to talk. That’s why we have LifeWorks, our Employee Assistance Programme, who can help provide confidential advice and support 24 hours a day. You can call them for free on 0800 069 8854.