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Deaths and funerals during coronavirus

Government guide

The GOV.UK website has a very useful step by step guide for what to do when someone dies

Register a death

Families of those who have sadly passed away will not need to visit the registry office. Please book an appointment online for a telephone death registration.

If you can't book online

For those who can't book online, our phone line is open:

  • Monday to Friday, 9.30 am to 4.30pm

Tel: 020 7364 7880

Weekend emergency burial notice service

Contact our weekend and bank holiday emergency burial notice service:

  • Saturday, 12pm to 4pm
  • Sunday, 9am to 4pm

Tel: 07946 390 834

Funeral arrangements and following religious beliefs

The GOV.UK website has a step by step guide for what to do when someone dies.

If someone dies in hospital

If a person dies in a hospital the procedures remain as before the pandemic and take into account the faith of the deceased.

The Chaplaincy Team at the five Barts NHS Trust hospitals includes Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic and Church of England/Christian chaplains. They are there to offer support.

Barts Hospital Advocacy and Interpreting Service is available. This helps to bridge communication barriers between patients, relatives and clinicians where there are challenges created by language or cultural differences.

If someone dies at home

If someone has died at home, the next of kin should ring the GP who had been looking after the deceased person or, if the death was unexpected call 111 (or in an emergency 999).

Those who are responsible for collecting loved ones that have passed away, including emergency services and funeral directors, will have the necessary training and equipment to ensure that this is done safely and sensitively.

Cultural or religious rituals

If it’s not known whether Covid-19 was suspected or confirmed at the time of death, you should not take part in rituals or practices that bring you in close contact with the deceased.

There is still an infection risk from body fluids and tissues if there was a Covid-19 infection. If your faith or beliefs include close contact with the deceased, you should wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

This must be supervised by someone who is fully trained in PPE use and must follow the guidance on care of the deceased.

People who may be at higher risk of severe Covid-19 should not have any contact at all with the deceased body, even if PPE is worn.

Funeral preparations

For Jewish and Muslim funeral preparations, body washing may be carried out if the undertakers have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and are trained in its use.

The choice of burial or cremation is entirely up to the next of kin and family.

Burial space

Please speak to your funeral director about options for burial space availability in cemetery of your preference.

Funeral services

The government has published guidance to ensure funerals are conducted safely. It explains current guidelines and restrictions. 

It suggests that you should follow hygiene and ventilation measures wherever possible.

Funeral attendees should take a rapid lateral flow test even if they don’t have symptoms. 

Support towards funeral costs

Financial support is available to help low income families meet the costs of funeral expenses such as burial and funeral directors’ fees.

Support for those who have lost a loved one

You can still access to a range of bereavement services through funeral directors, hospitals, GPs and other emergency services. 

Bereavement support
 Organisation Support available

The Chaplaincy Team

Manage bereavement support for families of those who have died in hospital by phone.

  • Tel: 020 3594 2070
  • Please leave a message with contact details and a member of the team will call back.

The Barts Hospitals Bereavement Care Team

There to help families of patients who have died in the hospitals

  • Royal London: 020 3594 1050 or 020 3594 2030
  • St Bartholomew’s: 020 3465 5889 or 020 3465 6892
  • Whipps Cross: 020 3594 1050 or 020 3594 2030
  • Newham: 020 7363 8056 or 020 7363 8055
  • Nightingale: through the contact centre number given to families

 City and East London Bereavement Service (CELBS)

Tel: 020 3022 5177


  • Bereavement Counselling Service provides support to bereaved people
  • Bereavement Counselling for Couples provides support to couples after the death of a child. This would include the death of an adult child.
  • Bereavement Volunteers and Muslim visiting Service offers practical help and support to bereaved people. Sylheti speaking staff are available.
  • We have wheelchair access by arrangement.
  • Bereaved clients have to be over 18 and live in Tower Hamlets or patients, or relatives or friends of patients of Barts and The London NHS Trust
  • You can refer yourself to the service by telephoning us on 020 3022 5177. We will take some basic information from you and offer you a counselling assessment. Alternatively your GP can make a referral to us.

 Tower Hamlets Bereavement Support Group

Tel: 020 8525 3140


  •  Tower Hamlets Bereavement Support Group is a peer support group for anyone who has experienced a bereavement or loss.
  • The group provides a safe and supportive environment where people can meet others who have had similar experiences. Everyone is welcome to share their experience and learn from the experience of others. The group meets once a month on Tuesdays.
  • Activities include lunch, complimentary therapies and guest speakers.

Stepney Jewish Community Centre

Tel: 020 7790 6441

Email: helpline@jcare.org

 The centre is open to anyone living in east London and the City.

Everyone is welcome, regardless of their level of religious observance, and we offer a therapeutic programme of activities for anyone who needs special care, is suffering from a bereavement or isolation.

Open from Monday to Thursday 9.30am - 4.30pm and Friday 9.30am - 1.30pm. Members are served a hot three-course kosher lunch every day and special diets can be catered for.

 Tower Hamlets Talking Therapies

Tel: 0208 475 8080

  •  Offers a range of free and confidential talking therapies and specialist self-management skills
  • Once you have been referred by your GP or you have made a self-referral, we will call you as soon as possible to verify your information. At the same time, we will book you in with one of our therapists for an initial telephone assessment.

 Sue Ryder - Palliative, neurological and bereavement support

Tel: 0808 164 4572

Email: online.community@sueryder.org

  •  Sue Ryder supports people through the most difficult times of their lives. Whether that’s a terminal illness, the loss of a loved one or a neurological condition – we’re there when it matters.
  • Online Community is open 24/7 and connects people with similar experiences so they can share experiences, feelings and emotional support.
  • Online Bereavement Counselling Service provides free, confidential and professional support over video chat. After an assessment to check whether our service is right for you, we offer up to six weekly sessions with one of our counsellors.

 Muslim Bereavement Support Services

Tel: 020 3468 7333

Email: info@mbss.org.uk

  •  We are a non-profit organisation serving the Muslim community by supporting bereaved women who have lost a loved one.
  • We also work with other organisations, the NHS and hospices in particular, to give a spiritual context to the bereavement support services they offer.

 Bereavement Advice Line

Tel: 0800 634 9494

  •  Bereavement Advice Centre is a free helpline and web-based information service.
  • We give practical information and advice and signposting on the many issues and procedures that face us after the death of someone close.
  • If you call us on 0800 634 9494, we will look for the organisation best suited to your own individual circumstances.

 Cruse Bereavement Care

Tel: 020 8850 0505 or 0808 808 1677

Email: helpline@cruse.org.uk

  •  Cruse Bereavement Care is a national charity that provides advice, information and support to anyone who has experienced bereavement (children, young people and adults), whenever or however the death occurred.

 Hope again (Cruse bereavement)

Tel: 0808 808 1677

  •  Aimed at children and young people experiencing bereavement.

 The Loss Foundation

Tel: 0300 200 4112

  •  The Loss Foundation is a registered charity providing support to people who have lost loved ones to cancer; spouses, family members, friends. Our charity offers in-person support in London and Oxford in the form of bereavement support groups and other supportive social events. We also provide an array of bereavement information on our website to support those that fall out of our support group catchment area.


Tel: 01708 765200

Email: info@supportline.org.uk

  •  Provides emotional support and details of agencies, support groups, helplines and counsellors throughout the UK.

 Bereavement Trust

Tel: 0800 435 455

  •  Support for anyone who has been bereaved.


Tel: 116 123

  •  You can get in touch about anything that’s troubling you, no matter how large or small the issue feels.

 Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum


  •  Sometimes when we are grieving, we have questions about faith and God. It can help to talk to a specific faith/belief leader, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist for example. The THIFF gives a list of all the places of worship including Churches and clergy and faith leaders who can be contacted through these should you wish to chat about questions you have around grief and faith.