Hawick funeral director believes Covid could change the way we grieve in the future

A Hawick funeral director believes the way we mourn the loss of loved ones has been changed forever during the pandemic.

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 4:27 pm
Paul Robson, Hawick funeral director. (Photo: BILL McBURNIE)

Lockdown easing from this week means that 50 people can now attend funeral services rather than just 20.

The restrictions had resulted in agonising decisions for grieving families – the Royal Family included.

But while acknowledging that dilemma, Paul Robson, company director with Robson’s Funeral Directors in Garfield Street, has seen positives emerge through lockdown.

Cavers Church outside Hawick.

In particular, the return of more traditional funeral rituals and the solemnity of people taking to the streets, while maintaining the required social distance, to bid emotional and heartfelt farewells.

Paul hopes that as the restrictions continue to be lifted some of the changes adopted through lockdown are retained.

He explained: “The positive side is that some very old traditions have come back because you have not been allowed to have so many people inside a church, at the crematorium, or even at the graveside.

"We have been taking a lot longer in leading the cortege along the High Street, where people have come out and we have been going past routes where the bereaved families live. I would hope that sort of thing sticks around after the pandemic.

"We have had funerals in the last year where it has been a young person, or someone not of a grand old age, and it’s been distressing to the point that we have not been able to have many people in a service room, again you counter-act that with having seen so many people come out onto the streets.

"People have been phoning up the office to find out the routes and I hope that side of things remains, alongside the old tradition of walking in front of the hearse. It’s made us re-evaluate old traditions.

"There is so much to take from this going forward.”

Paul added: “At the very start of this pandemic we were only allowed eight people and it’s now getting up to 50, if we have a church that is big enough.

"We have a church in Hawick that we are using, Cavers Church, that we can only get 14 people inside with social distancing because it is quite narrow, even though its capacity is about 150, although we can have 50 people at an outside graveside service, which is fine.

"Then we have Wilton Church in Hawick which is bigger and we can easily take 50 people and have everybody socially distanced.

"Everybody, the crematoriums, the cemeteries department, every single governing body that we work alongside have been superb through this, trying their best to accommodate every single family.

"Our own family had a bereavement at the start of this pandemic when we were only allowed eight, so we completely understand how stressful, and in a way hurtful it is not to have everyone you want there.”

Another positive to emerge from the relaxation of restrictions is that a number of local businesses are reopening as funeral service reception venues, including Hawick’s Mansfield House Hotel and Hawick Rugby Club.