Funeral home forces sons to stop comforting grieving mom due to COVID rules
MILTON KEYNES, England, October 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― Members of a state-funded crematorium in the United Kingdom forced two brothers to move away from their grieving mother to maintain social distancing, as they tried to comfort her during a funeral service for her husband.
Video of the incident has since gone viral.
The footage shows first Craig Bicknell, and then his brother Paul, moving their chairs beside their mourning mother at the socially distanced service in Milton Keynes on October 2. A member of the state-funded Crownhill Crematorium interrupted the ceremony, shouting at the brothers to move back to their places.
“Sorry, you have to move the chairs back, I’m afraid,” said the crematorium employee. “You can’t move the chairs. You were told.”
Craig Bicknell told Piers Morgan on “Good Morning Britain” that having to decide between begging the man to let him comfort his mother and just obeying his orders so that the service could go on gave him “a really empty feeling.”
“It was the hardest day of our lives anyway and for someone to come out with that aggression and telling us to stop, all we wanted to do is comfort our mum at the hardest time,” Paul added.
The brothers had lost their 78-year-old father, Alan Wright, to a heart attack in September.
The current COVID-19 social distancing rules in England allow single adults to form a social grouping, or “bubble”, with another household. They also allow up to six people to join groups indoors and out. But as it was, neither brother had been apart from their mother in weeks.
“Prior to the funeral, we haven’t left her side,” Craig said.
“She needed us more than ever.”
Craig pointed out that the Milton Keynes Council (municipal government), which is responsible for the crematorium, had imposed rules stricter than the government’s.
“With the government’s guidelines, it’s clear we can have six in a bubble. We can go into a restaurant, a pub and travel in the [funeral] limousine together,” he said.
“I just don’t understand why the council [has] got different rules to what the government [has] put in place."
A young man who saw the video was one of many who took to social media to vent their anger at the cruelty of COVID-19 lockdown rules.
“A son moves his chair next to his mother to comfort her at the funeral of her late husband, a member of staff says they’ve ‘been told’ and asked to separate. It really does highlight the cruel lack of humanity and decency in the way in which we’re forced to live our lives today,” wrote Englishman Darren Grimes on Twitter.
“My youngest auntie passed away during lockdown. I went home for the funeral. During the service mam sat with my nana and refused to move away,” Grimes continued. “I think she absolutely did the right thing in not allowing some petty bureaucrat to force my grandmother to break her heart in isolation.”
Milton Keynes Council, meanwhile, has apologized to the grieving family and issued the following statement:
We are sorry to have upset this family. We don’t usually step in if a guest needs to be comforted by another family member and in this instance should have taken a more considered approach. We ask funeral directors to let us know whether any chairs should be grouped in advance, and from now on this includes guests who are in the same household or bubbles, as well as people who need extra support. We hope this provides additional comfort at a difficult time.
Currently in the United Kingdom, only up to 30 mourners are allowed to attend a funeral, and this number could be lessened, depending on the venue. At least 2 metres (6 feet) should “be maintained between individuals.” Mourners must wear face coverings.
After almost 25 million coronavirus tests processed in the past six months, the U.K. has recorded just over 575,000 positive results. Fewer than 43,000 deaths have been associated with the virus, so far.