Families planning a funeral are already having a hard time. Add to this the current restrictions and it just makes it harder. We have heard stories of family bubbles being separated in chairs 2m apart from each other, of funerals taking place in chapels surrounded by COVID notices where families are continually reminded of restrictions such as no singing, and with no hand to hold or arm to comfort one another it just makes a hard time that much harder. It is heart-breaking, especially because we have had such a different experience and heard positive stories including tales of takeaway pizza in the meadow and ice cream to celebrate a life.
We know funerals have to be safe, but they also have to be compassionate and at our natural burial grounds families are finding positive ways to keep funerals personal. However this is also largely due to our wonderful custodians who are working with funeral directors and families to bring personal touches that overcome the ‘Coldness of Covid’. Sally at Bath Natural Burial Meadow is one of these custodians and it has been lovely to hear that her families have been able to plan special and personal funerals. After hearing such heart-breaking stories we thought it might be nice to share some of these.
Sally has had families who were very respectful of social distancing measures, but this did not prevent them from having a funeral full of love and warmth. Some of this was due to the fact that family bubbles could stay together, but for some this was because funerals could be followed by a socially distanced picnic on the hilltop which really helped. Sally herself said, “Its lovely people are being more imaginative about their events here at the moment because of not being able to do much elsewhere. People are making more use of the space here because they can't go to a venue. It's working well”.
They have had families who have brought bubble machines, ordered takeaway pizza in the orchard, and brought their own picnic baskets all this while adhering to the rules and staying safe. They have also been approached by families who wanted a cremation but decided to have a personal, less restrictive outdoor funeral first which shows that there are alternatives that can be arranged. One of the stories that we loved hearing was how she had a 'celebration of life' scattering with a celebrant and an ice cream trailer with ice creams after the service. It was a positive alternative that gave the family a chance to say goodbye the right way, which is what we are all about.
We are lucky that at the natural burial ground we can offer the space and time for families to add their own personal touches. Even with social distancing the focus can be on the funeral because a two-metre gap doesn’t seem so wide in the open countryside, and family bubbles can easily stand or sit together. A swift turnover of services may mean it is difficult for crematoria to design new chair arrangements to suit each family’s needs but there are ways around this. You only get one chance at a funeral and a ‘bad’ funeral can stay with you for life.
We believe it’s important that with life focused on Covid (for the time being) we don’t forget the true focus of a funeral. By working together we can find solutions that work with restrictions to allow families to have compassionate and kind funerals, because at the end of the day that is important. After hearing such heart-breaking stories we wanted to share some of the positive stories we have heard and that there is another way.
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
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