The chairman of funeral directors A.W. Lymn in Nottinghamshire has called for an urgent review of the rule that only 30 mourners can be present at outdoor funeral settings, particularly for African Caribbean funerals.
Nigel Lymn Rose, who is also the former national president of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD), said he “couldn’t understand” the reasoning behind the decision to continue to limit the number of people attending the outdoor part of a funeral.
He added that the restrictions were causing unnecessary distress to people that were already suffering.
Rose said that the clients of A.W. Lymn have dealt with some “very distressing situations” in recent months, with clients facing “hard decisions” as a result of the rule of 30.
He added that in African Caribbean communities, it is customary for, on average, more than 100 family and friends to attend a funeral when a loved one passes.
At the burial, it is reportedly customary for traditional cultural songs and hymns to be sung by all those present whilst the close family members backfill the grave and then cover it with flowers.
A.W. Lymn operates 27 funeral homes throughout Nottinghamshire and South Derbyshire, with its head office in the centre of Nottingham.
The business has cared for the bereaved in the region for more than 100 years and “prides itself” on its family run status, with Rose acting as a fourth generation member.
Rose expressed how elements of a traditional African Caribbean funeral have been affected by the pandemic, emphasising the “devastating impact” of the limited amount of mourners.
He noted that the recent scenes of crowds in Regent Street, as the second national lockdown came to an end, “further adds to the nonsensical idea” for a 30 person limit on the outdoor part of the funeral service, where social distancing can be accommodated and face coverings worn.
Rose said: “When someone dies, it is paramount that we feel able to show our support and care for the immediate family in the most simple way we know how, as humans, which is to be present.
“The health and safety restrictions which have come with the pandemic are of course vital to adhere to, face coverings, hand washing, social distancing etc, but we feel that in large, open spaces, which most cemeteries are, there need not be a physical limit if people stick to these rules. Common sense needs to preside.”
He added: “I know from speaking to families which we have supported in the African Caribbean community locally that the 30 person rule is truly devastating. It means families can not honour their traditions, that the deceased are not given the farewell they feel they deserve.
“This isn’t the sort of thing we can repair or correct in the future, it is set in stone, literally. We need to see a change in these rules as soon as possible so that no more families have to make these terrible graveside decisions.”