The Funeral Process during Coronavirus

Thank you to Daniel from Claridge Funeral Services in Marlborough for explaining the necessary funeral procedures during the pandemic.

When people approach us it is usually at a very sad and daunting time in their lives, having lost a person close to them. Under normal circumstances people ask us to help them arrange a personal and fitting send-off.  As we always say “no one person lives their lives the same as the rest of us, so why should their funeral be the same as everyone else’s.” Whether large or small, intimate or public, a funeral often brings comfort, closure, memories and celebration for the life that is being remembered, all this helping those affected to be able to “carry on” and continue to live their lives as best they can. Many people that we help find strength from having the support of family and friends whose lives were affected by the person who has died.

So how have we had to change our procedures during the past few weeks?

Coronavirus has cancelled or postponed many life events such as weddings, christenings, birthdays and anniversaries but all these can be rearranged for another time. Funerals however have to happen in some form shortly after a person dies, and as key workers we continue to operate but with adapted procedures so that families still get the opportunity to give the person who has died a dignified and personal send-off.

At this time, many people are choosing to hold a small family funeral either at a Crematorium or at the graveside with a more public ceremony planned for later in the year when the current restrictions are lifted. We would usually meet a family in person, give them moral support and plan the funeral details with them face to face, but in these challenging times we encourage people to make the majority of the arrangements over the phone, video call or via e-mail. If we do meet a family in person we try to limit this to immediate family and respect social distancing rules. This is hard to get used to as we have always taken the personal face-to-face approach but luckily virtual meetings are working fine.

Our local Crematoria are allowing a maximum of 10 people to attend each ceremony. 

Cemeteries and churchyards are following the same guidelines and churches and other places of worship are closed.

Technology has helped us to be able to include those who are unable to attend in person. Crematoria are now able to offer live streaming of  ceremonies so those chosen by the family can watch the ceremony from their own homes. 


Recordings are also available. Music can still be played, hymns can still be sung, digital visual and audio tributes can still be shown and other individual tributes can still take place. We can still get Orders of Service printed for you that can be distributed to those unable to attend in person. We just have to adhere to the rules which are in place to protect us all.

We recently carried out a graveside service where none of the person’s family were able to attend because they were all considered to be at high risk. The service was still carried out in the same way – the minister liaised with the family to ensure that each detail was correct, a select few friends and members of the Church attended to represent those who were unable to be there and we recorded everything that happened so that the family could still be a part of the day. All this meant the person who had died still had a dignified funeral and their loved ones were still able to be part of it but in a slightly different way.

We are arranging funerals for an increasing number of people who have unfortunately died as a result of Coronavirus. So we have invested in protective equipment for our team and those we come in contact with and to also enable us to maintain the dignity of the person who has died. If a person has died of Coronavirus, their family and loves ones are unable to visit them because of the risk to their own health, instead they can spend time with their closed coffin in our Chapel of Rest (see photo above). to pay their respects and spend a few precious moments to say their own personal goodbye.

During this time, we cannot travel together in the hearse, instead the driver is on their own with the funeral director in a separate car leading the hearse. Bearers travel directly to the funeral in their own cars and we no longer carry the coffin on our shoulders as this means bearers have to get very close to each other which places them at an increased risk.

We are in daily contact with local authorities who are keeping a record of the capacity levels of all funeral directors to ensure that the necessary supporting measures are in place. There may be many funeral directors who each do things differently however in these unprecedented times we are all here to help each other wherever it is needed in order to provide the best service possible.



Anyone who is uncertain or has any questions is more than welcome to contact us at Claridge Funeral Service on 01672 511836 or e-mail 

As always we are available 24 hours a day, all year round.

The Claridge team are incredibly proud of the majority of people who are doing their bit to protect others, we also have so much respect for our NHS and care staff both in the community and in the local care homes which we work very closely with. They are all doing an incredible job and as always putting the safety and lives of others before their own. In the words of our Queen “At times such as these, I am reminded that our nation’s history has been forged by people and communities coming together to work as one, concentrating our combined efforts with a focus on the common goal.We should take comfort that, while we may have more still to endure, better days will return: we will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again.”


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Covering: Newbury, Thatcham, Hungerford, Marlborough, Wantage, Lambourn, Compton, Swindon & Theale