Funerals: An immediate concern

On May 1st 2020, Canon Sandra Millar, Head of Life Events, delivered this webinar to over 900 delegates outlining some practical advice, thoughts and reflections for funerals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you weren’t aware of this webinar and missed it, you’ll find a YouTube video below, plus some answers to just a few of the many questions that were asked on the day. Sandra Millar has since written this introductory Article to explain why this webinar is especially important in this season of separation and social distancing.

Video recording of the live webinar:

NB: We have provided English closed captions for this video – click the Subtitles/Closed Captions icon on the player to enable them.

Helpful resources

These are the resources Sandra mentioned during the webinar:


There were almost 200 questions asked during the webinar! We’re unable to answer them all, but those listed below encapsulate a few of the common themes. We may add more to this list in the coming days.

  • Managing the numbers attending a funeral or trying to attend a funeral is a cause of tension and difficulty. How can we ensure consistency across funeral providers about who are ‘immediate family’?
    •  Different parts of the country as well as different funeral providers are interpreting Government guidelines as the situation develops and changes.  The most important thing is to adhere to social distancing, and to know the Church of England guidance.
  • If onlookers gather outside the church grounds to see a funeral, how do we manage that?
    • Every individual must take responsibility to observe social distancing. Simply give a notice at the beginning reminding people to stay 2m apart, but  work together with your funeral directors to help manage any additional people who spontaneously turn up. You are not solely responsible for others’ behaviour – everyone is responsible.
  • Can we expect an increase in ‘complicated grief’ because of the delay between small short funerals and the bigger, wider family remembering service? How can we address this?
  • I’m concerned that we are getting less referrals from Funeral Directors. Maybe it’s because families see church buildings are closed, but don’t realise they can have a funeral led by a Church of England minister in other locations. Is there anything we can do nationally and locally to make people more aware a church-led funeral is still possible?
    • Yes. Stay in touch with your local funeral directors and make sure they know how to contact you. Nationally, we’re working on some new resources to help you with this. To be kept informed about new resources, sign up for the Church Support Hub newsletter on the Home page.