Today we mark the loss of more than 100,000 people who have died within 28 days of an infection with COVID-19; a terrible milestone to have reached. Our thoughts are with their families and friends.
We also hold in our thoughts the families and friends of every single one of the 600,000 other people who have died, for any reason, in the United Kingdom in 2020 – the highest UK death toll since the 1918 Flu pandemic, more than a century ago.
Funeral service employees devote their lives to the care of those that die and their grieving families. Right now, funeral homes across the UK are under extreme pressure – beyond anything they have previously experienced and the sheer scale of the loss they are dealing with is profoundly distressing. They are caring for mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, brothers, sisters, friends – and, sometimes, entire families.
This pandemic is far from over. Deaths remain more than 30 percent above the seasonal norm and, tragically, more will die, before their time, before this is over.
This terrible milestone that we mark today should bring the challenge before every single one of us, to limit the possibility of infecting ourselves and others, into sharp relief.
And that includes funerals. We only have one chance to say goodbye and funeral directors are committed to ensuring families can continue to be there, safely, to bid farewell to someone they love.
You can help ensure this remains possible too by only attending a funeral if you have been invited by the immediate family. Please don’t even gather outside the service to line the road or surround the graveside. Your funeral director will tell you what the limits are. Please respect and adhere to their advice.
The vast majority of funerals are now being live-streamed so, if you’re not within the small group invited to be present at the service, please take part online instead. We understand that you are also grieving, and our thoughts are with you too – but there are strict limits in place for public health reasons and they must be followed.
Thank you to all of the funeral service employees for their determination to ensure bereaved people can continue to say a meaningful and personal goodbye during the pandemic. We’re proud to support you.