How coronavirus restrictions are taking their toll on funeral directors

PUBLISHED: 12:07 01 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:08 01 April 2020

Paul Allcock of Allcock Family Funeral Services. Picture: Sonya Duncan

Paul Allcock of Allcock Family Funeral Services. Picture: Sonya Duncan

A funeral director has described the heartache of having to tell grieving families to scale back ceremony plans amid the coronavirus outbreak.

As a result of government restrictions on social gatherings, funeral services are being held under extreme limitations, with just very immediate family permitted to attend.

This has made it increasingly difficult for ceremonies to be arranged and has put additional strain on families at the most stressful of times.

And it has also made life more challenging for funeral directors, who are having to explore different ways of working with families, including via video call and other forms of non-face-to-face communication.

Speaking to BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham, Paul Allcock, of the Norwich-based Allcock Family Funeral Services, said: “It is a nightmare to be honest - these are unprecedented times for everyone but it is such a difficult time for us.

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“It must be traumatic for families and for us it is having to still get people through the process. Having to tell people their friends and distant relatives cannot come to funerals is really difficult, especially at this time.”

He added that social distancing measures had left directors having to rely a lot more on remote working, which is not how they are accustomed to carrying out business.

He added: “As a funeral director I generally find my work to be extremely rewarding - I never get up in the morning thinking ‘oh crumbs, I have to go to work’. We create meaningful connections and relationships with so many people to help them through the most difficult times of their lives.

“At the moment though it is probably the first time I can say I don’t really look forward to going to work.”

One of the measures directors have been relying on to mitigate for the limitations is using video broadcasts of ceremonies. However, he said even those were not ideal solutions as many people in isolation may be unable to make use of them, particularly less tech-savvy generations.

He said: “So many areas at the minute are just unprecedented and difficult for us to overcome.”

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