East Surrey funeral directors have welcomed a lift on restrictions at funerals after a difficult year during the pandemic.
In line with the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, from today (May 17) there was no restrictions on how many people can attend funeral services, although social distancing measures may limit numbers in smaller venues.
For organisers, however, it was a relief to allow more loved ones to services after a year in which they have restricted attendance at funerals to as little as 10 people.
Speaking before today, Mollie Stoneman, funeral director at Stoneman Funeral Service in Redhill, said although the number of people at services could vary, she was looking forward to the Monday date.
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“The main difference it will make is the Church services. The crematorium’s aren’t going to be able to increase their numbers, although they may allow some outside,” she said.
“On the whole I’m quite positive. When you’ve lost someone it really helps to be able to come back into the community and to have all those people there that also cared about your loved one, it just makes such a big difference.
“It’s just been so sad. Particularly if someone’s younger and you know it should a couple of hundred people there but there’s only 30 or, at the start of the pandemic, 10.
“It’s just heart-breaking and you feel quite cruel that they can’t have the service they deserve,” she added.
To aid with this, many funeral directors will still be live streaming ceremonies for families while they wait for social distancing measures to be eased.
Clare Shortall-Emery from C.P.J Ballard and Shortall funeral home. Image: CPJ Field. .
“In the meantime we just carry on with what we have been doing which is offering our virtual services to extended family and friends,” said Clare Shorthall-Emery, funeral director at C.P.J Field’s Ballard and Shortall funeral home which operates in East Surrey.
She added: “We look after all sorts of faiths so normally rituals that would take place in somebody’s home has had to take place in the funeral home which we can share virtually with extended family members.
“Like everybody else we can just hope that things will start to ease over the next few weeks.”
An increase in funeral-goers will at least give directors more flexibility than what they endured since the start of the pandemic. Ms Stoneman said the past year had been difficult for both her staff as well as her customers.
“It’s the balance between trying to work out what’s safest for our staff, what’s most beneficial for the families while massively up against an increased workload. We’ve all struggled with the fact the services aren’t as personal at the moment,” she said.
“I’ve had a lot of people go up to me and say ‘oh I bet you lot are loving this,’ and it’s not true in the slightest.
“It’s just hard. You just want to make a difficult time easier for families and do the absolute best you can for them, no one likes seeing anything like this,” she added.