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Funerals in a pandemic

Its all Insurance

Posted on Tuesday, October 6, 2020

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Have you ever imagined what your own funeral would be like? From who would attend and what they’d be wearing, to how hard they’d be crying? You probably have. But maybe it was just a fleeting thought. In and out. Because let’s be honest, who really wants to think about their own death?


It’s definitely not a topic that you’d like to talk about in casual conversation or on a daily basis. In fact, most people probably haven’t even thought about the effects that their death would have on the people that they love. But it’s possible that in times like these, when we’re in the middle of a pandemic, that the topic of death has come up more frequently than you’d like.


Maybe it’s been brought on because someone you know has passed away or because you’ve been following the news and have seen the effects that COVID-19 has had all around the world.


And maybe now the thought isn’t quite as fleeting.


Whether traditional or unique, having a funeral is a chance to recognize the impact that someone has had on our lives. But it isn’t just about the deceased. It’s a source of comfort and support during a really tough time for the friends and family that are left behind and it’s a crucial part of the grieving process. A funeral is a chance for you to celebrate the life of someone that has passed on.


And just because there’s a pandemic, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay tribute to someone that has had an impact on our lives.


How do you even plan a funeral?


Honestly. It can be overwhelming. Not only are you grieving, but there are a lot of details to take care of. 

Some of these include:

  • The type of service. Whether you want to have a traditional funeral or one based on religious preferences, and deciding whether you want the deceased to be buried or cremated.

  • The date and venue. Religious beliefs and family circumstances may have an effect on when the service can actually be held.

  • The coffin or cremation urn. The process of choosing the coffin or urn is said to help with the bereavement process. You may also want to include personal items in the coffin, such as photographs or letters.

  • Music, eulogy, and prayer readings. Deciding on close friends and family to say something about the deceased, which Bible readings to share, as well as what music to play are other aspects to think about.

  • The order of service. You may want to provide mourners with a booklet advising them what will happen when. This could also include hymns, songs, poems, readings, and photographs.

  • Funeral transportation. Some people choose to have a funeral procession, whereby friends and family follow the hearse to the funeral service. You would need to decide if you want to organise the cars, as well as which route they would take.

  • An obituary. You may want to share the details of the forthcoming funeral in a local newspaper, as well as leave a message to celebrate the life of the deceased.

  • Awake or funeral reception. Many people choose to host a gathering after the funeral service. This lets the mourners come together in a less formal environment, to further remember and celebrate the deceased. This would typically require a venue and providing food and drinks for the guests.

All of these aspects of planning funeral cost money, which is where having a Funeral Plan comes in handy. It takes the financial load off of the people having to plan the funeral.


What to expect at a funeral during the lockdown


Honouring a loved one that’s passed on during a pandemic won’t be how you had imagined it. As we’ve learnt with the lockdown in South Africa, the different stages have different rules. But for the foreseeable future, a funeral in lockdown will likely have:

  • Maximum numbers. To limit the possibility of spreading the virus, the maximum number of attendees will likely remain at 50.

  • Travel restrictions. Only mourners that live within the same province as where the funeral will be held will be able to attend unless they are direct family members.

  • No night vigils. Night vigils are not allowed.

  • Social distancing. An attempt to distance attendees at the funeral may come into place to further try to limit the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, this means that no hugging will be allowed, and funeral attendees will have to space themselves apart from each other.

  • Masks. Wearing a fabric mask is compulsory in South Africa, which means all attendees will need to wear a mask for the duration of the funeral.

  • Webcasting. With the maximum number of attendees so low, some funerals may begin to start hosting a live stream of the funeral, allowing additional friends and family to pay their respects, albeit via a distance.


Thinking ahead. What can you do to ease the situation?


Planning a funeral isn’t the easiest of tasks in the simplest situations, never mind when there’s an ongoing pandemic. If you’ve become annoyed at the long lines just at the grocery stores, imagine all the additional precautions that need to be in place to plan a funeral that goes off without a hitch and in accordance with the guidelines.


Knowing the toll that funeral planning can put on loved ones may make you want to think just a little bit longer about your own funeral. Things that you could look into doing to ease the burden of your friends and family are to plan your funeral ahead of time. As morbid as that sounds, by already having the details of how you’d like the day to go means that your loved ones wouldn’t have as much to worry about.


Another way to ease the stress of a funeral is by putting away money for the inevitable. By already ensuring that the somewhat hefty costs are taken care of, you could be saving your family undue financial burden. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to look at getting funeral cover. These types of cover may not seem necessary, but if you weigh up the costs of having to get a last-minute loan instead, they may come across more beneficial.


Having the opportunity to say goodbye and celebrate the lives of those you love, and for them to do the same, is just as important, if not more so, in these challenging times.


We also answer questions on why you need a Funeral Plan and Life insurance here.