So…. what strange, weird worldly circumstances we find ourselves in.  It’s Sunday 5th April, and I thought I’d write some ramblings, firstly to share some bits and bobs from the funeral industry aspect of things, and I guess to document these historic times.

As a humanity we have been forced to go within (quite literally) and re-evaluate EVERYTHING over these past few weeks haven’t we? Surrendering to it all is painful, yet resistance is even more painful. Our minds are swirling with a chaos of thoughts that cover a gazillion elements of life as we knew it…. but for now, the world, and the society that we had become so accustomed to no longer exists.

Obviously the impact of this virus has hit every-which-way of life – work, finances, human interaction, emotional, mental and physical welfare……you name it, the list goes on!

Death and grief has been impacted heavily, and it’s a heartbreaking reality that all those in the funeral industry are currently working within.  While rules and restrictions change almost daily, we are currently experiencing a time where I do really wonder if what we’re doing is more damaging than doing nothing…. but I guess soon the choice will be taken out of our hands anyway.

That word: CHOICE is so prominent right now. We’ve created a world where choice and freedom allows us to have control…. individualism and personalisation were at the forefront – and this was something that I was heavily advocating for my bereaved families when it came to funerals. Interestingly enough, we’re now in a position where we are being unified as a species in order to overcome this latest challenge… this means we’ll have to surrender to choice and freedom… but how many of you are prepared to do it?  For the greater good, it’s not that hard. Let’s be serious… it’s not like we have no forms of audio or visual communication, unlike when the Spanish Flu hit in 1918…. boy THAT was tough. If we can step outside of our own wants and desires for the sake of all, then we’ll be absolutely fine I’m sure…. and we’ll learn a valuable lesson or two in the process!

But back to funerals….  some councils have already begun to shut down funeral services and limit it to direction cremation or burial only, while some of us still have the opportunity to have very intimate gatherings of a handful of close relatives. Of course, the dilemma comes when someone is vulnerable and cannot leave their house to attend, or if the person died as a result of the virus and their family was in contact with them, they’ll be unable to attend too.  I’m sure you all saw on the news about the little 13 year old boy who was laid to rest without his family.

I understand why some councils are moving towards banning funerals altogether. When you’re in the midst of grief it’s nigh-on impossible to be aware of social distancing! Our emotions take over – the need for comfort and reassurance is overwhelming and nothing else matters in that moment. But as always in this unregulated industry, different places are doing different things, and it’s been a confusing ride trying to follow who does what, as no-one is singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak.   One crematorium allows 5 mourners to attend whilst the other allows 10, one place allows family bearers with the correct PPE whilst others don’t, and some crematoria require that victims of covid-19 be directly cremated with no service or attendees, while others are happy to still have intimate gatherings. As for the processing and paper work on the Funeral Arranging side… that’s a whole different kettle of fish, and again, things are being done differently in different places. Here we are seeing the flaws of our unregulated industry come to the fore…. but amidst all this, the fab guys and gals in this industry are working SUPER hard to accommodate in whatever way they can for our bereaved families.

I myself decided to half my fees during this lockdown period.  This was NOT to under cut other celebrants (I’ll not be working any more than usual due to homeschooling my children) and while I too still need to earn some sort of crust I feel I am simply not earning my normal full feel. Plus the fact that we do have a very real problem of funeral poverty in the UK – and Funeral Directors show no signs of dropping those prices – so I’m just doing my little bit to help I guess. And what has been interesting is reinventing the way in which we have to work. I cannot go and meet families and spend time with them in the home that their loved one lived in, and while some of them have the technology to allow video calls it’s still so difficult to really get a feel for where they’re head is at and to read their emotions. These tacit intricacies of connection that I so heavily relied on have been taken away…. but alas, at least we have the means to communicate at all!  In the past families have found comfort in regaling in the tales and stories of their loved one’s life while sharing the comforting company of friends and family alike. It was often said that many folk always learnt new things about that person after a funeral.  This is now not happening much, and when it does it just feels awkward. Instead there seems to be two main approaches I have been taking to help support the bereaved: A) The service is more reflective, and instead of re-telling a lifestory we are just gently highlighting various elements about their journey, which allow those present (or the other side of the camera lens) to reflect in their own way. Or B) we direct the service to the deceased person – we talk to them. As a small group of between 1-6, this has been a lovely way to get through these times, and most families intend on gathering at a later date to memorialise their loved one in some way – either with a celebrant officiating, or some other gathering ritual like tea parties with photos and music, the interment of ashes, the sprinkling of wildflower seeds etc.

But as we face an uncertain future, will we see a national rise in banned funeral services? I think so. This will cause uproar I’m sure for many…. however, there are ALWAYS other ways to approach things, like arranging for simultaneous rituals to take place with family members (see my facebook page for some videos on this ) and you have people like me who will help in any which way we can.

We’re not so good with change are we?? But we have to be open to it right now as we’re all in this together. If this does means that funeral services will be banned across the country for a temporary period of time, then we’ll get through that. We will. We have to see outside our own little bubbles and look at the bigger picture… and while the anguish and pain is (and will continue to be) very valid and real, I believe it will do us all the world of good in the long run.


Big shout out to all the celebrants, funeral arrangers, bearers, FD’s, grave diggers and EVERYONE on our side of the key workers for doing what they’re doing and for continuing to support each other. xxx




Things I’d like to see the other side of Covid-19

  • For the funeral industry to re-evaluate their bloody prices!  At what point did we become so accustomed to accept that 4.5K is a standard price for saying goodbye to a loved one?? This needs to change, and Funeral Directors really need to establish exactly what their ‘professional fees’ cover in their invoices.
  • For people to realise that the way we were accustomed to ‘funeral services’ is not the only option. Is having a service with the body any different to having a service with ashes or at a place of rest? Is having a funeral director necessary? Or what about home funerals? When we are once again allowed to be in each other’s company, there’s nothing more natural than having an intimate gathering around the body of the person who has died at home – to process in a comfortable environment, to pray, listen to music, light candles, eat, drink, sing…. to just ‘Be’ with them.
  • This leads on to my next point of intimate gatherings versus large gatherings. There is a vast difference in the feel between the two… and the two most pertinent aspects of this is cost and emotion. We already know that we’re uncomfortable with public grieving, and rightly so (it’s a very private and individual thing!) and one beautiful thing that has come out of the current restrictive services is witnessing family members be able to be comfortable in the chapel – because it’s just them. There’s no expectations, no pretence… it’s just raw and authentic. It’s wonderful for a healthy grief process. So therefore, you may want to keep the ‘funeral’ intimate, and then have a memorial with everyone once you feel more up to it perhaps.
  • After all this I hope we really realise the importance of human connection… and that often actions speak louder than words. We felt it when we clapped on those Thursdays for the NHS and other key workers – there was an undeniable ripple of energy between us all that made us feel unified, reassured, emotional, but hopeful. This same practise can be applied to everyday life, especially when we lose someone…. and we’ll have to work hard to wean off those screens!! (How ironic!)
  • Basic is better! That we can scale things back and live simpler more appreciative lives. How many of us found such joy in playing board games with our family at home? OR building dens in the garden? Or just being super silly because it made us all laugh?  The simplest blessings are the most valuable… lest we forget that!  When we die, the money, house, car and all the crap we’ve accumulated inside of it doesn’t go with you… so learn where your true meaning and wealth in life is.
  • Like many, I too have struggled with the rollercoaster of emotions throughout this time… and in turn how our outward behaviour comes across to others. If we’re being taught anything, it’s to honour our own process, acknowledge negativity but don’t sit in it for too long, BUT ALSO be mindful and aware of others  and their own processes. It’s the yin-yang between looking after yourself but making sure you don’t become a narcissistic  arsehole because you have a ‘I’m honouring my own process and no one else matters’ kind of attitude! An eternal exercise for us all!
  • Random one – the resignation of the live music scene!!!! Will we all be flooding out for music and dancing? Oh I do hope so.