MOURNING TOGETHER: Families across the Southern Downs will now be able to have up to 100 people in attendance at funeral services. Picture: contributed
MOURNING TOGETHER: Families across the Southern Downs will now be able to have up to 100 people in attendance at funeral services. Picture: contributed

Fast-tracked funeral numbers offer relief to large families

FUNERAL homes across the Southern Downs have praised their fast-tracked return to 100 attendees, after months of services limited to a handful of mourners.

The Queensland Government’s announcement of the eased restrictions will enable grieving families to finally attend services and burials in person, offering them the physical and emotional support they so often need.

Warwick Burstow Funerals co-director Don Burstow said the early changes were a welcome relief for grieving families, though the new 100-attendee rule would still be somewhat “disjointed”.

“We can have up to 100 people, but we have to measure all of our venues and work out how many people we can technically permit into that area,” Mr Burstow said.

“In our Warwick chapel, that allows for 38 people, then our on-site reception centre can hold another 25 within that ration, and the rest up to 100 can be outside the chapel.”

Mr Burstow added that coronavirus restrictions have likely caused some permanent changes to funeral services, with options such as livestreaming online or even through a mobile phone app becoming commonplace.

“The restrictions with 20 and even 10 people were particularly difficult, and mean that often some very close family members had to fall out of the in-person line up,” Mr Burstow said.

“The webstreaming will always be a support for those who can’t be there for some reason, but humans need the human touch.

“We’ve also had our ‘Hugs from Home’, where people would be able to send a message of love and support to the grieving family, which was then attached to a white healing balloon and set up within the chapel.”

SUPPORT FROM AFAR: Burstows Funeral Care started their 'Hugs from Home' program to help grieving families during the difficult restrictions. Picture: contributed
SUPPORT FROM AFAR: Burstows Funeral Care started their 'Hugs from Home' program to help grieving families during the difficult restrictions. Picture: contributed

For Mr Burstow, the most difficult part of running the funeral home throughout the pandemic was being unable to provide them with the full service, such as the catered reception following the ceremony.

“A lot of really good things happen for the grieving family at that time – there’s lots of reflecting, sharing old stories, and it helps encourages people to start hoping for the future again,” Mr Burstow said.

“Stage 3 (of restrictions) has been fast-tracked for us, so the next stage so far as I can tell will be life as we knew it, and we want to be able to get back to them having the full experience that a funeral can deliver.

“In a time of grief, families really do need that physical support and give some hope to the future, to let them know their grief is shared, and we’re going to continue on this journey supporting them.”



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