When someone dies from pancreatic cancer during coronavirus

It can feel overwhelming when someone close to you dies. You’ll be dealing with lots of different emotions and coronavirus may make all of this seem much harder.

There’s a step by step guide to what you need to do when someone dies on the GOV.UK website. This includes information about registering the death, arranging the funeral and telling the government about the death. If you live in Scotland, there is information on the Scottish government website, and in Northern Ireland there’s information on nidirect.

The funeral

There are specific guidelines about funerals at the moment. These aim to reduce the spread of coronavirus – but they may be quite hard to deal with emotionally – read more about this below.

  • Only a small number of family and close friends should attend the funeral.
  • The number of people attending should be kept to a minimum. A maximum number of 30 people can go to a funeral in England, and up to 15 people can attend a wake. In Northern Ireland, 25 people can attend a funeral, but a wake shouldn’t be held. In Scotland, the number of people who can go to a funeral will depend on the protection level of the area you live in. And in Wales, the number at a funeral will depend on how many people the venue can hold while social distancing. Up to 30 people can attend a wake.
  • Everyone attending the funeral should practice social distancing, keeping 2 metres apart, unless they live together.
  • Everyone should wash their hands or use hand sanitiser regularly, and avoid touching their face.
  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must not go to the funeral.
  • If you are self-isolating because someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus or you have been contacted by the test and trace service, you should not go to the funeral. If you live in England or Scotland, you can attend if you are a close family member, but even then, it is recommended that you don’t go. If you do decide to, you should carefully take social distancing precautions on the GOV.UK website and the Scottish government website.
  • If you are at higher risk of getting ill from coronavirus, you should also think carefully about going to the funeral. If possible, try to use digital ways to attend, rather than going in person. If you do decide to go, you should take precautions to protect yourself from coronavirus.

Some religious and cultural practices may need to be restricted at the moment. For example, there may be restrictions on taking your loved one home to rest, or washing their body. Speak to the funeral director about what is possible.

All these restrictions may be very upsetting. Funerals are an important part of the grieving process. They give family and friends a chance to say goodbye to the person who has died, as well as supporting each other. Having to limit the number of people at the funeral may be very hard. You may feel like you’re not giving your loved one a proper send off, and that friends and family aren’t able to gather to console each other. With social distancing, you may not even be able to hug those who are there. And if you aren’t able to attend the funeral, you may have all sorts of emotions, such as feeling sad, guilty, angry or isolated.

Although you may not be able to bring everyone together in one place for the funeral, there are some things that might help you remember your family member.

  • It may be possible to stream the funeral online through video for those who can’t come – for example by Skype or Zoom. Or you may be able to record it to share with friends and family. Speak to the funeral directors about what’s possible.
  • You could create an online book of condolences for people who can’t attend the funeral to share their thoughts and memories.
  • You may be able to hold a memorial event at a later date, once the coronavirus restrictions have been relaxed and people can gather again.
  • You could set up a tribute fund to remember your loved one, celebrate their life, and allow family and friends to make a donation in their memory.
  • Marie Curie have more suggestions of things you could do.

Updated 12 November 2020