Call to revive funeral tradition during coronavirus lockdown

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Funeral procession
Image caption,
People traditionally stood and bowed when a funeral procession passed

A Scottish funeral director is urging people to follow the old tradition of standing, waiting and bowing when a hearse passes them in the street.

The lockdown restrictions have limited the number of people who are allowed to attend funerals.

Tim Purves, the chairman of William Purves Funeral Directors, said families were not now getting same level of support as they would normally receive.

He said reviving the tradition would allow people to show their respects.

Mr Purves, 43, said he rarely saw people stopping and bowing when a funeral procession went past these days.

"When I started in the business over 20 years ago I would see it, and my dad would tell me about it too," he said.

"At this time when many people can't attend a funeral it would be nice to see this tradition come back as a sign of marking that person's life and for everyone to show support of the bereaved during this time."

'Disappointed for the families'

The government guidance says the number of people attending a service should be kept to a minimum, and will usually be limited to close family members or those within the deceased's household.

Mr Purves, whose family firm covers the east of Scotland, said services were now being attended by "five, six, seven people or less".

"I feel disappointed for the families as it's an opportunity to say goodbye and to mark someone's life, and people are not getting that opportunity," he said.

Mr Purves said there had only been a "slight" rise in the overall number of funerals, and that about 50% of families planned to rearrange a memorial service once the restrictions were lifted.

Image source, Getty Images

He said people were "disappointed" at not being able to hold church services, but that they had been "understanding" and were "not angry".

The services themselves were much quicker "because things had changed so much", he added.

"So it would be very nice for bereaved families if people were to stop and bow when they saw a hearse passing them during this time."

A return to the old traditions would also be welcomed by Peterhead-based Robert Mackie Funeral Directors.

In a Facebook post, it said: "It's always nice to see someone take the time to respect a hearse taking someone on their final journey, but in this hectic world it doesn't happen too often.

"If you see a hearse could you stop, stand for a moment as it passes, perhaps take your cap off, and bow your head?

"In these times where funerals are limited to a very few close family our chance to support people during a bereavement is limited. It would mean the world to families in a time of sadness."