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Families postponing memorial services

Grieving families are having to put off memorial services for loved ones to a later date due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bermuda's funeral directors said yesterday.

While funeral homes have been granted essential service status by the Government, and consequently their staff have freedom of movement around the island, public gatherings including at funeral services are restricted to no more than ten people.

Doreen Williams-James, proprietor and funeral director at Alpha Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in St George's, said: “We have had some funerals, but because of the limited amount of people in attendance, most families have postponed services.”

Ms Williams-James added: “They have said they will do a memorial service at a later date because their family is large and they would like more family members to attend the service, or because sometimes there are elderly people in the family with compromised immune systems and we don't want to put them at risk.”

Leon Amis, owner and funeral director of Amis Memorial Chapel in Warwick, said families have been understanding of the restrictions on the type and size of services that can be offered.

Mr Amis said: “We can only do graveside services now; we can't go into a church until they lift this thing.”

He added: “Most funerals are at graveside with no more than ten people. Saturday, we had 14, and one day last week we had 20-something, but we can scatter people around. Family near to the grave is ten people.”

Mr Amis said the funeral home is not advertising services due to current restrictions on movement. He said most death notices include a reference to a memorial service to be held later.

“That will be the last line in the notice, so people look for that,” he said.

Reg Rawlins, owner and funeral director at Bulley-Graham-Rawlins Funeral Home in Pembroke, said the only change to the business due to the pandemic is the restriction on the number of mourners allowed to assemble at family gatherings.

He added that meetings with grieving families are by appointment only and limited to two people.

Mr Rawlins said: “We tend to do as much as possible over the phone just to save families the aggravation of coming out with all the roadside checks.”

Jo-Dina Pearman, partner and funeral director at Pearman Funeral Home in Somerset, said several graveside services have been held with no more than ten family members present.

She said most families are planning to hold another service once restrictions have been lifted.

“I have had one family stick with a graveside service, a small private service, but everyone else wants to have a large celebration of life later.”

Doreen Williams-James, of the Alpha Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in St George's (File photograph)

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Published April 22, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 21, 2020 at 10:23 pm)

Families postponing memorial services

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