Grieving in a strange time

Wagga Wagga City Council crematorium and cemetery staff are working to accommodate families after the Federal Government announced a limit of 10 people at funerals, as part of broader shutdown measures designed to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Administration & Client Services Coordinator Susan Dolphin said that all services were proceeding within the new guidelines.

“We’re certainly not cancelling services,” Ms Dolphin said.

“We’re an essential service, so we’re still accepting new bookings and will be proceeding with all cremations and burials.

“Having the limit of 10 people basically means immediate family only,” Ms Dolphin said.

“It will be very distressing to some families, but it’s critical that we abide by the guidelines and keep the community protected.”

Live streaming is an available option, which gives additional family and friends the ability to watch a service online. For each service, the live streaming channel is restricted by a secure login and password.

Other options for families may include holding larger memorial services after restrictions were lifted.

“We may be able to accommodate memorials in the future, where families can engage a celebrant or priest and have a service around the resting place,” Ms Dolphin said.

“If we can help people feel that they’ve said a proper goodbye, we’ll do all we can.”

Cemetery and crematorium gardens are open 24 hours a day, and while families were still able to visit, Ms Dolphin said it was important to keep in mind the Federal Government’s advice of not going out unless it was necessary.

“If a special day is coming up for your loved one, you’re still welcome to visit, keeping in mind social distancing. It’s best to come separately from other family members,” Ms Dolphin said.

Cemetery staff were encouraging clients to make arrangements via telephone or email and avoid coming into the office directly.

“Our reception area is very small, so we don’t want to put people at risk,” Ms Dolphin said.

“Also, we have limited staff, so it’s important we all stay safe. We can do everything over the phone or email. If the line is engaged, please leave a message and we’ll get back to you.”

Ms Dolphin said that staff appreciated the community’s patience, especially those who were grieving while dealing with the unprecedented set of circumstances COVID-19 presented.

“Every member of our team has lost someone special – we understand what it’s like. Please be reassured that your loved ones are safe with us, and we’re here to help.”

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