One in four funerals delayed as coronavirus deaths surge

Burning candle in mortuary funeral death
Burning candle in mortuary funeral death

Funeral directors are struggling to keep up with the high number of deaths in December, caused partly by the surge in coronavirus infections during the autumn.

The country’s largest undertaker, Dela, said around one in four funerals could not be arranged within the legal limit of six days because of coronavirus-related issues.

In addition to the high demand on crematoria and chapels, funerals are being delayed because family members are in quarantine or unable to travel home from abroad in time.

Funeral directors need permission from the mayor and approval from a family doctor to delay the event beyond the six-day deadline. ‘We need to contact a GP or intensive care doctor, and it can feel awkward at busy times like this to bother them,’ Dela spokesman Martijn van de Koolwijk told

Freek Teller, a local doctor in the Noord-Brabant town of Boxtel, said that in almost all cases, the decision to delay a funeral was a formality.

‘It doesn’t take up a huge amount of time, but doctors are receiving a lot of requests for all sorts of declarations at the moment,’ he said.

Funeral director Monuta said the process for granting an extension should be simplified to relieve the pressure on families and local authorities.

‘Municipalities always grant our requests,’ spokesman Naomi Samson said. ‘We’ve never heard of a mayor refusing. But there is already so much paperwork for families. Let them concentrate on paying their last respects.’

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