Funeral gatherings are facing ever-changing restrictions and rules and it is heart-breaking to hear how family groups and household ‘bubbles’ have been separated, unable to offer comforting hugs or a hand to hold at a time they need it the most. We have seen ourselves the no-entry signs, barrier tape, warnings, isolated chairs and one-way systems which add to the bleakness of what is already a distressing situation. We want families to know that it doesn’t have to be this way. Funerals can still be compassionate even amidst the pandemic. At the natural burial meadow at Usk Castle Chase Rosie has been working with families to make sure they can arrange safe, but compassionate funerals.
With Wales coming out of ‘firebreak lockdown’ following so many local lockdowns, England going into lockdown and Scotland discussing lockdown it’s not surprising that families are wondering how they will be affected when planning a funeral. We know how important it is that safety measures are in place, but we also know that funeral restrictions don’t need to be prescriptive and there are ways to follow the rules with compassionate solutions.
For some families, this is simply allowing family bubbles to stay together, something we firmly believe in because it is important you have a hand to hold at what is one of the hardest moments of your life. We have also had families that have brought the horse or the dogs. Some have had a socially distanced picnic or cuppa in the meadow that adheres to the rules. Recently Rosie was able to help by offering an outdoor space at the Castle so a family could still have the church funeral they wanted. At Usk Rosie even hosted a socially distanced coffin weaving workshop with Amanda of Wyldwood Willow.
Some funeral directors that have attended natural burials during the pandemic have recognised the benefits of having a funeral at a natural burial ground before a cremation because it offers a safer outdoor environment where music can be played, the maximum number of family and friends can attend, funerals are not rushed and the focus of the ceremony is the funeral, not Covid.
The unhurried setting and outdoor space that we offer has allowed families to have a picnic or afternoon tea boxes in the meadow following the funeral, many have said how much this has helped especially when they could not have a wake elsewhere. At other times just being able to say goodbye in the right way has made the day easier because they weren't rushed and looking at 'Covid notices' which requested that you immediately return to cars. They could take their time to say thank you and while it may have been with 2m social distancing it helped because it gave them the chance to have the right goodbye.
“Meadow burials have room and time for family and friends. They are flexible and can also be from home. It’s nice that we can offer this and it’s important families have a ‘good funeral’ even amidst the restrictions of Covid" - Rosie; Custodian and Landowner of Usk Castle Chase Natural Burial Meadow.
We know first hand that Covid does not need to be the focus of a funeral. Families should be offered safe and compassionate funerals and if we work together this is possible. If indoor spaces are too restrictive there are alternative ways to help families plan more personal funerals while also giving them their choice of send-off whether this is natural burial, cremation, church or traditional burial. It is important people know these options are available so they are not left wondering why Covid has commandeered what should have been a ‘Celebration of life’.
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
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