Funeral Travel Arrangements: what has changed?

Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – and continues to provide funeral services to the local communities. Throughout the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot changed about our lifestyles and […]

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Internal shot of the Freeman Brothers Funeral Directors Hills Cemetery Chapel

Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex, in 1855. The company now has a further three offices – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – and continues to provide funeral services to the local communities. Throughout the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot changed about our lifestyles and funeral requirements. Becky discusses where the business has continued to see the impact…

Back in 2021, I wrote about how travel habits for funerals had changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time, the UK’s vaccination programme was going through an initial round, and international travel was still heavily restricted. Funeral attendances were still slightly limited, as was the use of certain businesses, and it was very difficult to see how and when things would change, or revert to how they had happened prior to March 2020.

I then speculated that the pandemic may have changed attendee behaviour with regard to funerals for good, and a few years further on, things have shifted once more. As things stand in 2024, here’s what we have noticed among our customers…

Reprioritisation of in-person attendees
As the ability to travel nationally and internationally resumed, people were fairly quick to continue attending funerals in person. It’s clear to us that this is an important practice for many of our customers and, when it’s safe to do so, we are more than happy to facilitate this. It is nice to see people be able to physically support each other at funeral services – during the heaviest pandemic restrictions, funerals involving a small number of chairs separated from each other was not what we as funeral directors wanted to see any more than our customers did.

Some funerals, of course, are intentionally small and intimate – if this is what is right for you, then we are again fully supportive. However, some people wish to join together and have a larger affair, and what is best for everyone is that a full choice is available. We are pleased that this is once again the case.

Selection of funeral dates based on pre-existing commitments
In addition to people travelling specifically in order to attend a funeral, many of us are, of course, again taking holidays away from home. Travel behaviours are still shifting, but it does feel as though people are again planning trips well ahead of time, and are then either unable to move them or understandably reluctant to.

As a result, when a death occurs and travel plans are in place, there’s a decision to be made, and our experience tends to show that the funeral arrangements are chosen to fit around pre-existing plans. Often, this isn’t challenging – as those who have recently arranged a funeral will know, there are a couple of points in the process when it feels like there is little to do but wait. Whether or not to travel is can also be an emotional decision – some people may feel that they may no longer be in the frame of mind to enjoy their planned trip, and therefore choose to postpone it until another time, but this won’t be right or possible for everyone.

Continued demand for webcasts
Whilst we believe that we are seeing a lower demand for webcasts than at the peak of the pandemic, we are definitely receiving this request far more often than prior to it. I, for one, welcome this, as it improves inclusivity. Living in a different country isn’t the only reason that someone might not be able to travel for a funeral – some people have disabilities or caring commitments, or any number of other reasons for which being present in person isn’t practicable. So to be able to attend at a distance still allows them to feel involved and included.

Things have remained in the current pattern for some time now, and we hope that circumstances continue to allow a full range of choice for those who require funeral services.

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Written by Becky Hughes

Community Co-Ordinator

February 21, 2024

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