'It has been very difficult': Telford funeral directors on coping with coronavirus
Death is never an easy thing to deal with, but at a time when people everywhere are coping with isolation, shortages and social distancing, mourners are facing a new set of challenges to overcome.
Gone are the big celebrations of life, drawing hundreds of people and including songs and stories as a way of saying goodbye. Coronavirus has stripped away the ceremony, the big goodbye that makes the loss of a loved one slightly more bearable.
For the funeral directors who guide those left behind through the difficult days and weeks following a bereavement, it has been harder than ever to make sure the deceased are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.
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That’s especially true when they are lost in the rapidly changing Government guidance themselves, following advice that only really hints at what definitively needs to be done.
Louise Williams, director at Telford’s CJ Williams, said it had been a difficult time for the firm.
“The last couple weeks have been spent trying to plan and implement measures to cope with the unknown,” she said.
“We were only able to hypothesise and estimate the impact of Covid-19 upon our business and day-to-day procedures, and even now the effect hasn’t really started to take place.
"We are constantly evolving our thinking as new guidelines are issued and restrictions enforced.
"The greatest difficulty we have faced so far is the lack of definitive guidance, which has left us, at times, unsure of the decisions we are making.
“The biggest impact is the changes that families have had to make regarding the wishes their loved ones had left behind.
"We are still affording the upmost dignity and respect to every single person, regardless of the circumstances of their death and will fulfil everything we are able to, within the constraints of the regulations imposed upon us.
"Unfortunately, in many cases, additional services such as flowers and after funeral gatherings have had to be cancelled.”
Recommended protective equipment has been handed out to staff, and new procedures have been put into place. Funeral arrangements are now discussed over the phone or email rather than in person.
But ultimately there is still a funeral, and the ceremony has changed due to coronavirus guidance.
“The greatest impact on the funeral itself has been due to social distancing,” Louise said.
“Funerals have now been limited to immediate family members only, with a maximum of 10 people in attendance. No church services are taking place.”
Louise said: “It has been very difficult. We have a fantastic team of staff who are incredibly dedicated. When being a funeral director is your vocation, you strive to do the very most you can for every family.”
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