Changes to funeral services
People who have lost a loved one in Kirklees will be able to hold funeral services inside the chapels at Dewsbury and Huddersfield Crematoria from 1 June.
Strict restrictions have been in place at funeral services throughout the lockdown to protect mourners, staff, and funeral directors as much as possible from the coronavirus (COVID-19).
At this time up to 10 mourners can stand outside the chapel whilst a minister or celebrant of their choice performs a short service before the coffin is carried into the chapel by the funeral director.
What has changed?
As public health advice changes, we’ve started to plan for socially distanced services to take place inside the chapels. From the 1 June, up to 10 mourners will be able to enter the crematorium chapel to attend a funeral service.
To help facilitate this change we’ve increased booking times from 20 minutes to 30 minutes to enable a clean between services, and chapels will be laid out so that those attending can stay safely apart. Hand sanitizers are being installed for use before and after entering the chapel and we will encourage everyone to keep 2 meters apart as the travel through the space.
If you are unable to attend the funeral service you will still be able to watch for free through our webcasting service.
We will continue to offer our cremation services at the direct cremation rate, to reflect the reduced number of people who can attend the service.
You can still book a graveside burial services and these will continue to go ahead with a reduced maximum of 10 mourners. Everyone should observe social distancing to allow bereavement service staff and gravediggers to carry out their duties safely.
To make sure that people affected by these and earlier changes are able to pay their respects to loved ones who have passed away, we are continuing to work with funeral directors to seek alternative options. One example of this is to work with families to hold a celebration of life or similar service later in the year when facilities become available again.
Anyone who has any questions about the process is advised to speak to their funeral director, who will be able to support them with arrangements.
Bereavement support line
We’ve also recently enhanced our bereavement support package to provide additional support for you during this difficult time. This includes setting up a new number for people to call if they need to talk to someone about their loss, the changes to the service, or is looking for advice on who to contact for specialist support. The service can be contacted by calling 01484 456999 option 4, alternatively, advice can be found on the council website.
Councillor Rob Walker, Cabinet Member for Environment said:
“I am sure you will appreciate that any unprecedented event requires decisions to be made with the best evidence available at the time, and it is testament to the sacrifices we have all made over the last two months that we are beginning to see a decline in the number of people infected by and in the worst cases dying from this terrible disease.
I know that the sacrifice made by families who’ve lost a loved one during the last few weeks has been particularly heart-breaking, and not being able to hold a normal service can only have made a difficult time even harder. We are still a long way from normal, but I do hope that opening the chapels to 10 people will at least provide some additional comfort to immediate family members and close friends at their time of need. We will continue to review the position.
As we mentioned before we will be working with councillors, partners, funeral directors, faith networks and the bereaved to develop a day of remembrance. This will mean that when we are once again able to gather in groups we can come together to pay our respects to family members who have passed away.
Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council said:
My priority is to save lives and keep everyone safe. In light of changing public health advice, I have asked council officers to work with funeral directors to develop practical steps to allow mourners to hold funeral services inside the chapels and for this to be operational from 1 June. Closing the chapels was not something we took lightly, but it was the right decision at time. I recognise that some people will ask why we can’t start doing this immediately. However, whilst it appears we are past the virus’ peak, it is important that we take the time to make sure we can make this change safely, so as not to put vulnerable people at unnecessary risk. Also, we need to give funeral directors time to plan for this and speak to bereaved families to make the necessary arrangements.”