Funerals in COVID-19 times

Author: The Revd Canon Simon Ward

Published on: 18 June 2020

When my dear uncle died in early March, my cousins and I set about preparing his funeral, scheduled for 23 March.

It soon became clear that what we planned and what we could do were very different. By the time I took the service in church it was just me and immediate family. A few days later, we would not have been in church at all.

It can be a stark discomfort to attend a funeral in the current times. Numbers are restricted. We cannot go into church at all. Those who have known a particular church as their spiritual home (perhaps all their life) will never make their final journey through its door. However, there are things we can do to adapt and help people be comforted by God’s all-encompassing love. Indeed, our challenge as Christians is to help people know God’s love, even in trying circumstances.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions for all church members to remember:

  • Be mindful of those who will have not had opportunity to say farewell to a loved one. This is especially hard so bear this in mind and offer a listening ear.
  • If people cannot attend a funeral, remind them to pray at home at the time of the funeral. Lighting a candle, being still, saying the Lord’s Prayer, reading Psalm 23 may be comforting.
  • Encourage families to write cards, emails or send text messages to those who can’t attend. If you cannot attend a funeral let the family know you’re with them in prayer and in spirit.
  • It may be possible to record or livestream a funeral service. Some crematoriums offer this.
  • Clergy may be willing to print and share their words along with other tributes used at the service. These can be emailed or posted to those who could not attend.
  • Encourage bereaved families to think about a suitable memorial service at a later date. This could be a big, grand, full service or something very simple.

There are some really useful resources to be found on the Church of England website: www.churchofengland.org/life-events/funerals We must remain committed to supporting the bereaved through their journey of grief. We must acknowledge that it’s always tough but made more so in the current times. We must endeavour to guide people to the light and peace of God’s comforting presence.


The author...

The Revd Canon Simon Ward

Licensed clergy - Incumbent: Team Rector, Great Yarmouth Team Ministry (Benefice)

The Rectory
Town Wall Road
Great Yarmouth
NR30 1DJ

This article is from...

Articles in this issue...

Age has been no barrier

St Luke’s Church, on Aylsham Road, Norwich has been running both a Sunday morning service and a virtual coffee morning every week since the middle of April, using Zoom.

More

And relax…the voice

When the lockdown began, I knew it was vital to find ways to try and keep our community together.

More

Supporting those who are housebound

I am Laura and founded YouBelong, an organisation aiming to connect and support people with chronic illness and/or disability through the online community.

More

Dig down into the scriptures

We have always produced a podcast at STN, predominantly featuring our Sunday talks, as a way for those who wish to engage from a distance or catch up on Sunday.

More

Receiving donations online has never been more crucial

In the step-by-step article, we look practically at different payment platforms/companies, creating an online giving page on your website, and adding a giving button to A Church Near You.

More

Light a candle

Lighting a candle can be a helpful way to pray for someone. An online candle will help you think about someone who has died and pray for all those who miss them.

More

Maintaining youth and children’s work online

In these unprecedented times it is maybe the young who are most able to adapt to the forced use of technology to stay connected.

More

Anyone for coffee?

One of the many new experiences, in these COVID-19 times, are the proliferation of socially-distant coffee mornings online.

More

Rich tapestry of church

After a few weeks of COVID-19 lockdown, we realised how much church family members missed seeing each other, so we set up a ‘Church, Coffee and Chat’ for those on our church email list and invited everyone by email.

More

Supporting our life together despite the financial impact of COVID-19

I want to begin by thanking so many of you – parishioners, PCC members, churchwardens, lay ministers, clergy and others – for the incredible way in which you are continuing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the effect it is having on our local communities.

More

Keep up to date

Subscribe to our newsletter for a snapshot of news, events and resources, usually emailed once a fortnight

Signup to newsletter