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The heartache faced by families attending funerals restricted by coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 06:30 22 May 2020

Funerals have been restricted by the coronavirus crisis and Suffolk celebrant Fiona Loader has spoken about the difficulties she is facing. Picture: ARCHANT

Funerals have been restricted by the coronavirus crisis and Suffolk celebrant Fiona Loader has spoken about the difficulties she is facing. Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

Funerals are among the many aspects of life changed by coronavirus and families are facing a very different situation than what they were expecting after losing a love one.

Funeral homes are restricting services to six, ten or 12 guests at any one time, in line with government restrictions. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/GEORGE DOYLEFuneral homes are restricting services to six, ten or 12 guests at any one time, in line with government restrictions. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/GEORGE DOYLE

Fiona Loader is a celebrant who delivers non-religious services across Suffolk and north Essex and she has spoken about the heartbreaking difficulties families are facing.

“People miss the wake terribly, as it is their time to let go and tell stories and celebrate the person’s life,” she explained.

“By the time wakes can be held again, a lot of people will have moved on.

“The acute sense of mourning and wanting to get together will have gone somewhat.”

Fiona Loader is a humanist celebrant and provides funeral services in Suffolk and north Essex. Picture: FIONA LOADERFiona Loader is a humanist celebrant and provides funeral services in Suffolk and north Essex. Picture: FIONA LOADER

Mrs Loader thinks people might instead cling to anniversaries or ‘death days’ to remember their loved ones on while they cannot hold proper wakes.

She and her colleagues have continued their work through the crisis, bearing the brunt of anger and grief while providing an essential service to support people through what can be the most difficult time of their life.

She said: “Funeral arrangers, coffin bearers, crematorium and cemetery staff, celebrants and religious officiants – we are all still working and have been working through these increasingly difficult times to make sure those who have died have as dignified and meaningful a funeral as can be arranged.

“We have had the painful job of explaining at different times why only six, ten or 12 mourners can be present at a ceremony in order to maintain a safe distance between each other and from the staff working there.”

Services are being streamed so that friends and people outside of the nuclear family still have the chance to observe the service and Mrs Loader recalled one family who recently turned up to watch the webcast in the crematorium grounds, as they just wanted to “feel closer” and be part of the ceremony.

Seeing as services are limited to small audiences, the intimate setting has allowed some of the grief to be shared more openly.

Mrs Loader added: “Normally the person closest to the deceased is on show and has to keep it together.

“This situation allows them to grieve openly instead of putting on a brave face for everyone else.

“However, it is harder – people might feel they’ve been cheated out of their mourning.”


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