Fears grieving relatives could be robbed of precious last moments with loved ones

Fiona Loader is a humanist celebrant. Picture: FIONA LOADER

Fiona Loader is a humanist celebrant. Picture: FIONA LOADER - Credit: Archant

A celebrant fears families will be robbed of the chance to say a final farewell to their loves one as the coronavirus death toll continues to spiral.

Funerals are becoming much quieter affairs these days. Picture: GEORGE DOYLE/GETTY

Funerals are becoming much quieter affairs these days. Picture: GEORGE DOYLE/GETTY - Credit: Getty Images

Fiona Loader is a celebrant who performs non-religious funeral and memorial ceremonies at venues around Suffolk, including Seven Hills Crematorium.

She has become increasingly worried about the challenges funerals are facing and the drastic measures which may have to be imposed, robbing people of their last moments to make their peace.

“It is hard to balance the need to get together and grieve for the loved ones they have lost,” she said, explaining social distancing and lockdown are already having an impact.

“We normally have a lot of contact – shaking hands, placing a hand on shoulders, having hugs – it is so difficult to manage that need for contact with staying safe.”

Funerals are becoming much quieter affairs these days. Picture: GEORGE DOYLE/GETTY

Funerals are becoming much quieter affairs these days. Picture: GEORGE DOYLE/GETTY - Credit: Getty Images

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Despite many funeral homes complying with government advice and attempting to keep mourners two metres apart at all times, human nature has overwhelmed many of them.

“The minute people leave the ceremony they go outside and they’re all hugging and just let go of all their emotion,” Mrs Loader explained.

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“Now our comforting as we lead the ceremonies has to be in our words, we have to think more carefully about what we say.”

Many venues are allowing a maximum of 10 people to attend a funeral, with many friends and extended family understandably upset that they cannot be there to celebrate the lives of those they have lost.

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With the current COVID-19 situation projected to get worse before it gets better, there are fears that the funeral process will be all but suspended.

This could lead to an eventuality where bodies are buried or cremated without a single family member present due to the risk of infection.

Mrs Loader said: “Seeing loved ones before and after they die is a really important part of the process.

“There is a danger this will compound the grief if they cannot go through the process.”

However, there will be the chance for families to hold ceremonies in the future when safe to do so and Mrs Loader added: “There is a message here, that what we do now directly impacts our future.

“It is best everyone stays as safe as they can.”

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