Remembering loved ones during coronavirus Q&A

The situation around coronavirus is changing rapidly and we know how difficult it can be to stay up to date with the latest regulations, especially if you’re trying to distance yourself from the news (it’s overwhelming, we know). With Italy currently banning funerals, many loved ones are missing out on the chance to say their final goodbye, and this is almost unimaginable.

We know that many of you will have concerns if you’re having to say goodbye to a friend or family member during this chaotic period, so Gareth Coles wanted to put together a Q&A with our frequently asked questions, to help put your mind at ease, as much as possible. So, over to Gareth…
Are funerals still going ahead?
Yes – funerals are still going ahead but there have been some slight changes in the way that they’re being delivered, and restrictions are being updated daily so we will, of course, keep our community in the loop through our social channels over the coming weeks. Currently, the Church of Wales is officially closed for both private worship and public services, and Catholic funerals are still going ahead with restricted numbers, but only with the service held in the crematorium or the church. Often, we’re finding that services are being taken straight to the crematorium or cemetery and unfortunately, we’re not allowed to offer a limo service at present due to social distancing regulations – they’re seen as a health risk. Instead, we’re offering a hearse-only service, meeting families at the funeral location. However, I would like to add that we’re still working hard to offer a personal service to the families that we serve, ensuring that their loved ones still get the final goodbye that they deserve. We are also still allowing families to pay their respects at our funeral home (assuming it’s not a confirmed COVID-19 case), but with restrictions on the number of people visiting at one time.


Are there any restrictions on the number of people allowed to attend a service?
Sadly yes – funeral services are being restricted to a maximum of 10 people strictly for safety reasons and we know that can be quite difficult, especially for those with large families. Yet we have to maintain social distancing practises throughout the service for the protection of our team, and you.


Are there any delays in arranging a funeral that I need to be aware of?
In terms of arranging the funeral service, there’s no delay from our perspective right now and we’re still operating within the two-week mark from ‘meeting’ a family to the delivery the funeral service. However, please bear in mind that this could change rapidly over the next few weeks, depending on the impact of the virus in South Wales. Families may also face a delay in registering the death of their loved one as understandably, hospitals are at capacity right now and we require this information to start preparing for the funeral.


Will you be live streaming funerals for those who can’t attend?
This is something that is now being offered by Thornhill crematorium (free of charge given the current situation) and we are happy to support this initiative. Prior to the service, the family will be sent a secure link along with a username and password so that they can log on in real-time. The choice is entirely in the hands of the family for who will receive access, but it can mean that loved ones, wherever they are in the world, will have their chance to say their final goodbye. For those key workers or loved ones who can’t sign in live, please note it’s available for a seven-day period afterwards and it’s available to keep, so it can be viewed more than once should you wish to do so.


What do I do if I’m self-isolating and need to arrange a funeral?
We’ll be carrying out arrangements to the same high standard as normal and our team will still be with you every step of the way. But instead of hosting visits to the funeral home, we’re now conducting all of our meetings and consultations with customers either over the phone or via virtual meetings using tools like Skype. We’ve found this to be incredibly effective and still allows our team to offer their support during this difficult time. All necessary legal forms can also be sent to us digitally or through the Royal Mail and any statutory forms that need to be signed can be completed electronically over email.


What measure are Coles taking to protect the wellbeing of customers?
The safety and wellbeing of our customers is of the utmost importance to us and over the last few weeks, we’ve been taking careful steps to implement additional precautions. This includes remote consultations, but given the nature of what we do too, we’re also taking careful steps with cross-contamination too, with all staff wearing black, discreet medical gloves during funeral services and we’ve also been working to decontaminate surfaces. Before a funeral, everything is disinfected in terms of vehicles, equipment and surfaces. We’re also taking social distancing very seriously and any customers that need to come into the funeral home or those who attend our service will experience the advised 2m distance. That’s also the reason why we’re discouraging families from taking on the role of pallbearer during the service – we want their wellbeing to come first. We’re also working to support our customers with their mental health and wellbeing during this time too. Typically, we’d have free 1-2-1 counselling sessions available at the Hub in Birchgrove, but we’re now offering remote counselling over the phone with our resident counsellor, and anyone can access GriefChat live on our website.


We hope that helps to answer some of your queries and we want you to know, we’re here to support you as always when you need us the most. If you have any additional questions or if you would like to speak with our team, we are on hand 24/7. Call us on 029 2079 7516