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COVID-19 Musings
COVID-19 Musings

17 March 2020

I make no apology for adding a few random thoughts to the thousands of COVID-19-related posts already published. It’s a pandemic, after all, so we can’t help but be affected in some way. Moreover, nobody really knows what will happen next.

I am a civil celebrant, not a doctor. My thoughts may not resonate as sensible or practical. Things are moving very quickly. What I say today may be invalid by tomorrow. However, here goes.

Funerals

From my perspective, I am currently still being asked to conduct funerals. At my latest, I had planned to invite the mourners to use discretion and be aware of the possible consequences of making physical contact with each other. However, as soon as they met, they fell into each others’ arms, so there was no point. It’s a difficult one, because a funeral is so emotive, and touch can be so welcome, even necessary.

For my part, I apologised individually, but declined physical contact.

It may well be that funerals as we know them will be suspended in favour of direct cremation, say. That means that there would be no ceremony whatsoever (although a memorial service could be organised for when things have calmed down).

At the moment, I am contacting families by phone and giving them the option of discussing the Order of Service in their home or by phone/Skype etc. Nobody has asked me to make the house call, but if I did, I would again decline physical contact with them, and would take precautions, such as not eating or drinking anything, and use plenty of hand wash.

Celebrations

At the time of writing, gatherings of more than 40 people are being discouraged. That may very well impact on weddings, vow renewals, namings and the like. The latter two could probably be postponed without too much trauma, as they usually entail much less planning than a wedding.

Weddings are likely to be bigger and to have been planned from a year or so back. Deposits will have been paid, at the very least, and cancellation penalties may exist in the terms and conditions of some suppliers. Hopefully, such penalties will not be invoked under the circumstances, and insurance cover may be in place anyway.

I think that the next two weeks will see the virus peak over here, and, hopefully, after that, normality will be restored, at least gradually. My advice to couples is not to panic and don’t cancel unless you are told to. You have more chance of being reimbursed if you respond to the government instructions, rather than assuming the worst and second-guessing. True, you want to give maximum notice to guests, but these are unique circumstances. It may be worthwhile getting in contact with them, though, to reassure them that they are not forgotten.

So “wait and see” is my advice, frustrating as it may be, and hope and pray that the gods will be with you.

At the very least, you’ll probably have some stories to tell your grandchildren one day …!

Author:

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe. Telephone me now on +44 (0)7931 538487 or contact me directly by e-mail.

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