Losing a loved one is heart breaking at any time, but it is even more challenging during the current Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

As the pandemic affects how we work, shop and socialise, we are all learning to live in new ways, and unfortunately, we have to learn how to deal with death differently as well.

Below is some information to help you understand the options around funerals and memorials at this time.

Your funeral options

Kirklees Bereavement Service offers both cremations and burials. These can be booked through a funeral director or direct through bereavement services.

Burials

If you select a burial service, we can currently allow 10 mourners at the graveside. Everyone must maintain social distancing and nobody should touch the coffin.

You will be able to throw earth on the coffin before moving away from the site for the interment (burial) to be completed.

Cremations

If you choose a cremation service, you have 2 options:

A direct cremation

This will take place in the crematorium chapel without the friends and family of the deceased. A celebrant or religious minister of your choice will carry out a short commitment ceremony on your behalf. You will be able to watch a webcast from the safety of your home.

A short outdoor service

We can allow up to ten mourners to stand outside the chapel whilst a celebrant or religious minister carries out a short service, the funeral director will then carry the coffin into the chapel and friends and family will make their way home. Unfortunately, we cannot offer a webcast for outdoor services.

To keep yourself and those attending the funeral safe:

  • Please keep 2 metres apart from other people
  • Do not touch the coffin
  • Avoid touching the building or any surfaces
  • Wash or sanitise your hands before touching your face

If you or anyone in your family has had any flu-like symptoms in the last 14 days please do not attend the service.

Why these changes have had to be made

The council has had to change how we offer funerals in our crematoria and cemeteries to protect people from this deadly virus, to limit the pressure on the NHS and to make sure we can continue to offer an essential service to the people of Kirklees.

By only offering services outdoors or online we can safely follow the government's social distancing guidance and reduce the risk for both staff and those attending the funeral, especially older and more vulnerable people catching Covid-19.

Support for people struggling to cope with loss at this time

We are enhancing our bereavement support package to provide additional support for you during this difficult time, so that whilst you may not be able to be in the chapel, you are still part of that important ceremony. Your funeral director will be able to support you with planning the service and will often be able to provide emotional support.

If you need to talk to someone else about your loss, please call: 01484 456999 option 4.

The government website includes lots of advice on how to deal with a passing of a loved one; it covers finance and other practical information. GOV UK: When someone dies

You will find a list of charities that offer counselling or advice on how to deal with grief below.

Supporting people to say goodbye after the pandemic

We are all looking to the future, when this terrible time is behind us, when we are able to come together and comfort each other, to share stories of those we have lost and celebrate their lives.

Whilst a committal ceremony is an important part of the bereavement process, there are other opportunities for memorials to celebrate the life of a loved one. These could take place once the government lifts restrictions.

Some options you may want to discuss with your funeral director include:

  • Interring or scattering your loved ones ashes
  • Adding a loved ones details to the book of remembrance.
  • Buying a memorial for your loved one to be kept at home of at the crematoria
  • A memorial in a location close to your loved ones heart

Day of rememberance

Once we are able to gather in groups again, we will be working with councillors, partners, funeral directors, faith networks and the bereaved to develop a day of remembrance.

This will allow everyone who has lost someone during the pandemic to come together to pay their respects to family members who have passed away.

Places to go for advice and support

Below are some organisations that offer specialist bereavement support.

General bereavement support
Bereavement of young people
  • WAY (Widowed and Young) is a UK charity offering a peer-to-peer support network for anyone who has lost a partner before their 51st birthday.
  • Hope again is the youth website of Cruse Bereavement Care. It is a safe place where young people can learn from other young people, how to cope with grief, and feel less alone.
  • The Compassionate Friend offers support for those grieving the loss of a child of any age and from any cause
  • Winston's Wish offers information, advice and guidance on supporting bereaved children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Child Bereavement UK offers support for children and young people (up to age 25), parents, and families, to rebuild their lives when a child grieves or when a child dies.
  • Forget Me Not Children's Hospice provides bereavement support, help, advice and support following the death of a child.
  • Martin House offers bereavement support to all families following the death of their child.
  • Barnardos: Child Bereavement Service offers advice and support to parents/carers of children and young people up to the age of 18 years who have been bereaved.
  • Kooth offers free, safe and anonymous online support for young people.