The death of a loved one is difficult at any time. But planning a funeral during COVID-19 has made losing someone special during the pandemic even harder for a lot of Australians.
With families often spread across the country, social gathering restrictions and travel bans are preventing relatives from gathering to say their goodbyes when someone dies.
This article offers some tips for planning a funeral during COVID-19 and offers some advice for paying tribute to a deceased loved one during the coronavirus pandemic.
Funeral restrictions during COVID-19
Lockdown rules and bans on travel and social gathering has impacted planning a funeral during COVID-19.
Sadly for many Australian families, in 2020 we started seeing funeral restrictions during COVID-19. This meant families were only allowed to gather in small groups as little as five or 10 in some instances.
We have seen the heartbreak of the bereaved forced to be seated 1.5 meters apart. Mourners have even been forbidden from hugging one another, unable to provide comfort in their grief. Even the Queen wore a mask and sat alone at the funeral of her husband, Prince Philip.
The Queen sits alone in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, during the funeral service of her husband of 73 years, the Duke of Edinburgh.
— ITV News (@itvnews) April 17, 2021
When planning a funeral during COVID-19, the rules are constantly changing and it’s hard to keep up. So for the most up-to-date advice check your state government website for the latest information on funeral restrictions during COVID-19.
While COVID-19 funeral restrictions are in place, funeral directors and churches have been forced into the 21st century to offer video streaming at funeral services. This meant that family and friends unable to go to a funeral during COVID-19 can still pay their respects and grieve virtually.
It’s not only lockdown funeral rules that have made the passing of a loved one that more difficult during COVID-19. During peak outbreak periods, lockdown rules banning visitors to the home and social gathering in some states have made the grieving process tougher too.
‘Think outside the box’ when saying goodbye
Restrictions on social gatherings are changing the way we’re planning a funeral during COVID-19. The coronavirus has made us reconsider what’s most important when someone we love dies, said Bare Cremation’s co-founder, Sam McConkey.
“The pandemic has forced us to ‘think outside the box’ when it comes to planning a funeral. It’s shifted the thinking from ‘what’s been done for 100 years to ‘what would my loved one actually want’ – and in many cases that’s not an expensive, traditional funeral.
“Studies have found the most Australians don’t want an expensive or traditional funeral, but the industry is not really set up to provide a good alternative,” he said.
Many families and friends who are planning a funeral during COVID-19 are, sadly, unable to gather in a traditional funeral service setting. Instead, they are arranging an unattended, bare cremation, at the time of passing.
But rather than being a negative experience, separating the actual cremation from any ceremony allows families the time and budget to take a breath and plan a more personalised send-off later on. In a COVID world, it has become commonplace to hold a memorial or celebration of life service in the weeks or months after someone has died, when family and friends can more freely travel and socially gather.
Instead of rushing the grieving process of planning a funeral during COVID-19 in a few days after a person has died, a bare cremation allows families time to grieve while they plan a farewell that celebrates their loved one’s life.
Bare provides an unattended direct cremation service to allow families and friends the time, budget and freedom to plan a farewell that best celebrates their deceased loved one in the way they lived it.
“We used Bare Cremation earlier this year when my mother-in-law passed away,” said Trudi Simmonds.
“She was in NSW and we were locked down in Vic. They organised everything, were very supportive and guided us every step of the way. COVID has made life tricky, but we were thankful though we found Bare Cremation. It was affordable at a time for us when we were wondering how we would get through it.”
After the cremation, Trudi’s family planned to arrange a memorial and scattering at Rookwood cemetery in NSW, to reunite her mother-in-law with her twin.
You don’t need a coffin present to say goodbye to a deceased loved one. And it doesn’t even need to be held in a church or chapel. Planning a memorial or life tribute allows you to think outside the box, in more ways than one.
This might be a picnic at the beach, barbecue at the park, beers at the RSL, a backyard cricket game, or a scattering ceremony at a favourite fishing or hiking spot. For more suggestions on planning a funeral during COVID-19, read our article 13 unique memorial service ideas.
In place of a coffin or casket, families usually set up a memory table with the deceased person’s photo, flowers and some personal effects.
For those who need support in planning, we also offer a Bare Memorial Service, where we partner families with a celebrant to help arrange and officiate the ceremony.
For more tips read our artice, 6 funeral ideas during COVID.
To find out how Bare can support your family to farewell a loved one during the pandemic, visit the Bare Memorial Service webpage, or have a chat with our arrangers on 1800 071 176.