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Bereavement support during Coronavirus

During these difficult times, we have had to adapt to some very different ways of living. Sadly, this also applies when a loved one dies.

Although it is something none of us want to discuss, it’s important that as a family you make each other aware of your wishes should one of you die. This will help your family, Cornwall Registration Service and the funeral director to follow them through for you to the best of their ability at this time.

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You will be able to find the most up to date information and guidelines on our funerals during Covid-19 page.

Cornwall Bereavement Network are able to provide support to you over the phone by calling 01726 829874 which will be open from 10am to 6pm.

If a loved one, friend or family member dies during the Coronavirus outbreak, whatever the cause of death, there maybe some changes to the way we have to do things. So, we’ve put together a list of commonly asked questions to help you.

Hospitals are now unable to allow visitors to anyone who is suspected of having Coronavirus, even if they are seriously ill.

If you have a family member in hospital who is at the end of their life but does not have suspected Coronavirus you will be allowed to visit them.

If your family member dies in hospital, you will be contacted by the Bereavement Support Team from the Royal Cornwall Hospital. They will tell you where your family member is, and what you will need to do next. We know that it will be particularly traumatic for family and friends if they don’t have the opportunity to spend time with their loved one before they die or say goodbye in person. Cruse Bereavement Care has put together extra support specifically for this and you can find in on their website.

We will try to honour your wishes in terms of a burial or cremation, and we will do our utmost to transfer your loved one to a location near to where you live if we can.

Depending on the severity of the situation at the time your family member dies, you may be able to visit them at the funeral director’s chapel of rest. This will be confirmed by your appointed funeral director.

What should I do if someone dies at home?

This is an overwhelming time for many families, but the first thing to do is to try and minimise contact. If the family member has been confirmed as having coronavirus (Covid-19) or has shown symptoms, then you should firstly phone your GP or 111 for advice. If you have not been in touch with the healthcare system about the patient, please call 999.

More information and advice can be found on the Government’s website.

If you need information on registering a death you can find this on our registration pages.

Can I go to a funeral?

Rules around social distancing mean that attending funerals is limited to immediate family only, this is up to a maximum of 10 people and you must follow social distancing guidance with people you do not live with.

When will the funeral take place?

At the moment everything is running within a normal timescale in Cornwall. However, if there is an increase in deaths from Coronavirus across Cornwall, we may not be able to meet our usual timescales.

If your family member has religious requests for their funeral, we will do our best to honour them wherever possible. Please be aware that if we are seeing a significant increase in the number of deaths then we may not be able to do this.

We will do our utmost to honour your wishes in terms of the burial/cremation and we will try to transfer your loved one’s body to a location near to where you live for burial/cremation.

What can I do if I can’t attend the funeral?

If you are a friend of the person who has died, you may want to find alternative ways to honour them. In Cornwall, services that take place at crematoriums are available to view online after a service has taken place. Family members will be able to share this information with you if it is something you wish to view.

Even if you cannot watch in real time, or the funeral is delayed or reduced to a very short service, you can still hold your own private goodbye or memorial at home. Look at pictures, play some of the person’s favourite music, write a message to them, light a candle or follow any of your own cultural rituals.

Ask those who have been able to attend to call you afterwards so you can hear their account of the funeral and take the time to share your memories of the person who has died. 

We will not be under these restrictions forever, and at some future point you may be able to hold a formal or informal memorial.

Social distancing rules mean you are unlikely to be able to visit loved ones in hospital for the time being, and you may not be able to attend the funeral of a loved one or friend either. Added to this, you are unlikely to be able to draw on your usual support network in the way you normally would.

Not being able to do these things is likely to compound all the usual distress and trauma we feel when we are coming to terms with the death of a loved one.

It’s important to talk about what’s happened for you during this very difficult time and how you are feeling. This is true whether your loved one has died from Coronavirus, whether you are in the process of coming to terms with a death that happened before the pandemic, or if your loved one has died from a cause other than Coronavirus.

Cornwall Bereavement Network are able to provide support to you over the phone by calling 01726 829874 which will be open from 10am to 6pm. You can get a range of local bereavement support online on their website. If you have experienced the death of someone at home, or caring for some one who is dying at home, there is a dedicated phone number for pastoral support available on 01726 829874.

Cruse Bereavement Care has a useful guide here to support you while isolating and grieving.

If you feel you can’t talk to someone close to you, you can always call the Samaritans 24/7 free of charge from a landline or mobile by calling 116 123.

If you need any support for your mental health you can find more information on our mental health pages.