People are arguing with funeral homes to be allowed to have bigger funerals than 10 people, amid warnings that this is dangerous, said Carly Dalton, Funeral Director of Melbourne’s Greenhaven Funerals and President of the Association of Independent Funeral Professionals.
“We urge people not to ask for this and for funeral homes not to do it,” she said.
“There are several reasons for us to insist on this – financial, legal and moral,” she said.
“Funeral directors risk fines of $100,000 per business and $20,000 per individual if these rules are flouted. And they are asking us to break the law. But there is also a very big moral issue. If you attend a funeral where there are more than 10 people present, you risk being the source of Covid-19 infection to others,” she said.
Funerals throughout the country continue to be restricted to 10 people per service. It had been feared there would be further restrictions when increases in other social isolation measures were announced by the Prime Minister today, Friday 27 March.
Carly said funeral directors wanted to work with people to come up with solutions. For example, some funeral are being conducted in two sessions, with up to 10 people including one or two officials, with each group following strict social-distancing rules.
She also said funeral directors will do everything they can to help people honour their dead.
“Sadly, during this time, ours is one industry that will not shut down. Funerals will still go ahead,” she said.
In fact, it is expected there will be increases in deaths, due to Covid-19.
“But we will help people find creative ways of honouring their dead,” she said.
“For example, we can run funerals with the deceased and as few as two people present. This might be the funeral celebrant and a videographer, who is able to stream the funeral on-line to people in their own homes.
“People will still be able to hear the music and honour that life. It will not be the same. But we will do our very best to honour the dead,” she said.
Amy Sagar, Director of Port Kembla’s Tender Funerals, said there are other creative solutions that people can consider.
“For example, some people might consider self-guided ceremonies or ceremonies such as 1000 candle vigils,” she said.
“Ceremonies can also be recorded and videoed.”
“We could also have, for example, letter-writing ceremonies – where people all write a letter about and to the deceased person. This could be turned into an ever-going letter, which people could keep.”
When they can all come together again when the Covid-19 crisis is over and it is safe to congregate again, families could have a letter opening ceremony together, or burn symbolically.
Amy wants to develop some of these ideas further. We will share these with you as soon as they become available.