Know your rights: COVID-19 and funerals

What are the rules about funerals during the COVID-19 emergency?

If someone close to you has just died, or you know someone who has recently been bereaved, you may have concerns about planning the funeral during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have put together some information about wakes and funerals.

After a bereavement, you should contact your preferred funeral director as soon as you can. During the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral directors will remain open as they are an essential service. Funeral directors and undertakers deal with the burial or cremation arrangements. Your funeral director will have the most up-to-date information and know the details of procedures during the pandemic.

Some traditional funeral customs will not be possible because of the restrictions in place during the COVID-19 emergency period. These include:

  • Wakes at home
  • Having an open casket in repose at the funeral home
  • Washing the body
  • Embalming

Close family members can still attend funeral services burials and cremation provided the social distancing rules are respected. This relates to all funerals, including those of people who have died of COVID-19. There should not be more than 10 people in a church or at the graveside. This number may need to be smaller in small closed spaces and local churches may have other restrictions. If the deceased had no family, close friends may go to the funeral. The Government has published A Guide for the Bereaved during the COVID-19 Pandemic (pdf).

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre advises close contacts and relatives of the deceased to use their own transport to attend the funeral, where possible.

The Irish Hospice Foundation have suggestions about how to support family members through grief and remembering people lost during the pandemic. Following the funeral, you can arrange a memorial service for a later date when restrictions have been lifted. Visit hospicefoundation.ie or call (01) 679 3188.

Information for those affected by bereavement is a publication for people who have been recently bereaved. It provides information and advice on practical and material matters that arise following a death. It includes information on what to do immediately after a death, possible social welfare entitlements, tax, financial and legal issues that may arise and where to go for further information and support. You can visit citizensinformation.ie to download a copy.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens Information Centres are offering a phone and email service. You can access information and advice from:

  • The Citizens Information Phone Service: 0761 07 4000, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm
  • Your local Citizens Information Centre: find the phone number on the Find a Centre page on citizensinformation.ie.
  • Our email channel: email to covid19@citinfo.ie, include your telephone number and and an information officer will call you back within 2 working days.