With the current health guidelines in place, the typical way funeral or memorial services are held has changed. With information from the BC Centre for Disease Control, here are some ways you can safely come together to grieve the loss of a loved one.
Funeral and memorial services during COVID-19
- Make sure anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or who needs to self-isolate stays home.
- Include people who cannot attend the funeral or memorial service. If family or friends live in another city, or have high risk levels, consider streaming the service so they can take part.
- Plan to have the funeral or memorial service in a large, open space. If possible, have the event outdoors. If the event must be indoors, try to find the largest space you can, keep the doors and windows open for better air circulation.
- Make sure that no more than 50 people come together at once. Remember to stay physically distanced from people outside of your bubble or wear a mask when that is not possible.
- Keep things clean. Clean high-touch items (like door knobs, light switches, cupboard handles, and tables) before and after the service.
- Make sure there are places where people can clean their hands and dispose of used tissues. Put hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol at the entry and exit, near the casket, and near any food services. Make sure that washrooms have soap and running water to wash hands and paper towels or hand dryers to dry hands.
- Wearing masks. People who want to wear masks need to remember that they still need to wash their hands regularly and keep their distance from others. There are instructions on how to wear masks on the BCCDC website.
- Viewing and touching the body. The CDC says it is safe to touch the body, whether the person died from COVID-19 or from another cause. However, it is important to clean your hands afterwards.
- Singing and choirs. Although singing is a higher risk activity, there are ways to make it safer. Things like staying two metres apart, doing it outdoors when possible, staying in ventilated areas, hiring a soloist or small group of performers, humming along to the music, and making sure not to share microphones or other equipment.
- Children can play together safely. This is safe as long as they wash their hands before and after they play, and the play time is shorter rather than longer. Try to have children play with others who are in their bubble or usual playgroup.
- Food and drinks can be served. People can serve their own food if they are able to wash their hands before they touch food or utensils. You can also have one person serve others. It’s important to wipe down and clean things that are shared, like utensils and condiments.
- Pallbearers should wear masks because they are close to each other in pallbearing, and wash their hands afterwards.
- Help Public Health. Write down the name and phone number of people who attend the funeral or memorial service event(s). This will help public health with contact tracing in the case that someone contracts COVID-19.
Did you prepay for funeral services?
Learn about your options when prepaid (also known as “preneed”) funeral services are changed to follow social distancing guidelines and the implications this might have on your preneed contract. Prepaid funeral services during COVID-19
Where do we fit in?
Funeral directors, providers and embalmers as well as cemetery and crematorium operators are required to be licensed with us. To find a licensed provider please visit this page on our website.
We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.
About Consumer Protection BC:
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.