Express & Star comment: Good to see funerals restrictions being lifted

Death has dominated the year of Covid. At home, we have lost friends and loved ones, colleagues and those whose lives we have learned about through the pages of our newspapers.

Undated file photo of a funeral taking place.
Undated file photo of a funeral taking place.

Yet many people have been denied the opportunity to grieve, which so frequently becomes with a ritualistic funeral. They have been unable to gather in number to pay fulsome tribute or reflect on the good times. There has been a vacuum where once there was a celebration or, at least, the chance for quiet contemplation and thought. No one has been immune from the abnormality. Even our Monarch had to endure a solitary farewell to her husband, Philip, as tradition was replaced by the need to observe coronavirus regulations.

The news, therefore, that some restrictions on funerals are being lifted will please everyone. People will be able to gather in greater number to bid farewell to their loved ones. It will not quite be ‘normal’ – there won’t be the throaty singing of hymns, the gathering of masses in a local pub or other, similar customs that risk spreading Covid-19. It is, however, a step in the right direction.

There are caveats, as there are with so many elements of our recovery from the pandemic. We will not immediately be able to rush back to the way things were. There will not be packed churches, mosques or community centres filled with friends and relations, nor pubs or village halls packed with people at the wake. It will take much longer for such practices to return. The most important ritual of close family and friends offering thoughts or prayers in person will return, a huge step forward.

There has been an understandable focus on the economic impacts of Covid as the nation’s gaze has turned to job losses, redundancies and worse. Yet the rituals that underpin our society, that make us human, that are an important part of our lives; they must not be forgotten. The commemoration of births, marriages and deaths are foremost among those and society at large will breathe a sigh of relief that grieving for loved ones will no longer be made more difficult.

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