COVID-19 Lockdown – What it means for funerals

On a daily basis we are finding out more about Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019. Although most of the information to date is based on anecdotal evidence, clinicians and scientists are starting to get a clearer picture of the behaviour of the virus, it’s incubation, transmission and virulence.
There is a lot of information circulating about COVID-19. What we do know is that it is very contagious and can be dangerous to the elderly, those who are immunocompromised or those with underlying morbidities.

If a loved-one dies during lockdown.

Firstly, our sincerest condolences. As a funeral service we do not look forward to people dying anymore than your doctor hopes you’ll get sick. But when it does happen, we are here to serve and ensure you get the support you need.

Under Level 4 Lockdown there are restrictions to how you would usually conduct funeral ceremonies. However, we want to reassure you that burials can still take place. Crematoriums will still be in operation. Our mortuary team is still available to embalm so that if you choose you can have your family member home with you for a period of time before they are laid to rest.

Ceremonies at crematoriums, chapels and graveside are not permitted however, this does not mean that you can’t say farewell to your beloved. Depending on your situation there are options we can explore to see what might work for you.

We are aware that this is uncharted territory and we will work hard to serve your family under the current restrictions.

Auckland Funeral Services is fully equipped to assist with the care of a loved who dies with, or from, COVID-19. In all cases where the disease might be contributing factor, is confirmed, or even suspected, our procedures will be the same as primary care health professionals. Firstly, this is to ensure we do not compromise the safety of those sharing the space with us and the deceased, and secondly to protect our staff. Our ‘duty of care’ to our team and your family is first and foremost.

Please accept our apology. We know it is disconcerting to have your funeral director donned in gloves, grown and a mask. But as is it both, best practice, and a legal requirement, it is unfortunately a necessity. We will be sure to discuss these processes with you and answer any questions that might arise from our service to you.

There are a number of interactions that we will have with you and your family when someone passes away. The first will likely be taking care of your loved-one’s body. In some cases embalming will be necessary, but if you want to have your loved-one come home or you want to have a viewing (private or open) embalming will be essential.
Depending on the restrictions in place at the time, the ‘farewell’ for your loved-one might need to take a different shape from what we would traditionally expect.

Burial and cremation are both appropriate options and it is entirely your choice as to which suits your family, culture and faith.

Under the current restrictions we have a number of options that we can discuss with you to ensure you and your family and friends can say goodbye to the person you have lost.

To bring people together without a physical venue is now a part of our ‘everyday’. We have extensive technical expertise at our fingertips to live-stream services to the web, simulcast to secondary venues, and provide big screens and sound for outdoor services. As well as multi-camera recording of services so they can be published to the web or put on a USB drive.

The following is the key information you need to know if someone dies.

We know the virus is transmitted via droplets. That means that if you have had direct or very close contact, for an extended period of time, with a person infected, it is highly likely you will also get infected. The virus appears to be able to survive outside of the body (i.e. on surfaces) for anywhere from 3-72 hours. This is why consistent and thorough surface cleaning is important.

Always follow hand hygiene – that is, washing hands regularly with soap and water, or cleansing with hand sanitiser
Clean surfaces regularly.
Wear a face mask if you are going to be in close contact with an infected person.

If someone dies from COVID-19 or from an underlying condition with COVID-19 a contributing factor, the above hygiene and cleaning guidelines should always be followed.

We are here to help.

The response to COVID-19 we are seeing from government and the Ministry of Health is most extraordinary. Our role is to assist you and your family to get the best result from possibly the most traumatic and devastating event you’ve faced.

We are here to ensure the practical, technical and necessary aspects of care for your loved one is carried out in a professional, responsible and compassionate manner. Although we might be at the mercy of government restrictions, that does not mean that dignity and respect get pushed aside. We are here to help you navigate these complexities.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if there is anything we can assist you with, or if you have any questions.

0800 420 470