Bereavement Support Line 1800 80 70 77

Planning a Funeral in Exceptional Times

This material was developed through the acute COVID-19 pandemic phase.  While circumstances have changed, it remains here as a record of that time.

Planning a funeral during the COVID-19 pandemic

If you’re caring for someone who is very sick and are worried they may die, or someone you love has just died, you may have some concerns about what might happen at a funeral during this COVID-19 response period.

In Ireland, funerals are how we celebrate and commemorate those who have died. As you navigate this new reality please remember, death ends a life not a relationship and your connection with the person who has died will remain.

In these difficult times, everyone is working together to help each other. We send our heartfelt condolences to you as you enter this different journey.

However, we can support ourselves and each other in different ways.

Planning a funeral during this current physical distancing phase

We appreciate that physical distancing requirements make this bereavement and funeral even more difficult but there are immediate steps you can take to plan the funeral of someone you love or care about.

  • Do contact your preferred funeral director as soon as you’re able. They will be equipped with the most up-to-date information and procedures during the pandemic and will guide you through the process, ensuring you are cared for and minded.
  • Do ask as many questions as you need to.
  • Do let people know of the death – you can still place a death notice, but no times or venues of the funeral will be published online, by radio or in print.
  • Do remember the funeral will be planned as private, for close family only. However, you can request a reading or poem to remember them by, even if the service is short.
  • Do remember that everybody will understand how difficult a funeral is at this exceptional time – people will respect and support you as best they can.

As it’s not possible during this time to have public reposes or wakes in funeral homes, there are ways you can keep the funeral personal and beautiful and involve others in remembering your loved one.

  • Do make use of online condolence book to record messages of love and appreciation.
  • Do think about hosting a memorial service at a later time, and plan that, in time, when you feel able.
  • Do ask people to send you a letter with their memories of the person who has died.
  • Do encourage children draw pictures or write poems.
  • Do talk about the person who has died, within your household and beyond through telephone calls.
  • Do seek to keep in contact and try to be open to others contacting you – we can still be together when we are not together.
  • Do seek out the latest technology to help. You can use videoconferencing (Google hangouts, WhatsApp, Zoom etc) to come together with special people who cannot physically be with you.
  • Do stay in contact. But be mindful of the amount of contact you are able for.

You may find it useful to refer to our Grieving in Exceptional Times resource.

How we can honour someone who has died without attending the funeral?

We are a nation of great culture and tradition and we can honour the person who has died in many ways. We are seeing examples of how Irish people are finding new and innovative ways to support each other. Some of the ‘old’ ways are also being revived.

Here are some of the ways you can help:

  • Be the person who organises friends and neighbours to stand at their gates (observing physical distancing) to show support to the grieving family.
  • Do post condolences and messages of support online on or on social media.
  • Do take time to write letters of support and condolences – expressing your thoughts is very meaningful.
  • Do phone/text the bereaved person to keep in touch – not just immediately but in the weeks and months ahead.
  • Do share photos memories, and stories virtually with each other.

“One of the greatest gifts a person can give another is support”

Print out for a friend

Maybe you would like to print out this page and share with a friend or colleague, or you can download it as a PDF here.

Please help Irish Hospice Foundation to continue to support those facing end of life at this unprecedented time of need. Text IHF to 50300 to donate €4. Text costs €4. Irish Hospice Foundation will receive a minimum of €3.60. Service Provider: LIKECHARITY. Helpline: 076 6805278