Grieving family brand East Dunbartonshire Council's funeral policy 'insensitive and unsafe'

East Dunbartonshire Council is under pressure to change its funeral policy, after a grieving family branded it “insensitive and unsafe”.

Cathy Davidson, pictured at her 100th birthday celebrations last year at Whitehill Lodge care home at Lennoxtown

Cathy Davidson (100) originally from Torrance, passed away recently.

The grand old lady’s relatives told the Herald they were denied the provisions in latest Scottish Government Covid guidance, which allows family members to carry a coffin and take a cord at the graveside.

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Instead, they said they were forced on Friday to hold on to sticks pushed underneath her coffin to leverage it from the funeral car to the graveside at Cadder Cemetery, Bishopbriggs and were denied the opportunity to take a cord at the graveside.

Cathy’s family lobbied the council in advance of the funeral, in the hope the council would adopt the latest Covid guidance.

Cathy’s son John said: “The latest guidance allows for safe and sensitive funeral arrangements and other councils are allowing the normal carrying of coffins and taking of cords.

“We are fortunate that a couple of our family members are young and very fit, we had expert advice from our patient funeral director, and the council staff in attendance on the day went above and beyond, to help us ensure the coffin remained balanced on the sticks.

“However it was still extremely difficult physically and emotionally for all those involved. With a less physically able family, the risk of a coffin slipping from the sticks or a family member falling at the open graveside would be significant.

“Apart from the crass insensitivity of the policy, it isn’t safe for families or council staff to undertake this process.

“Instead of simply following the Covid safe guidance, which allows families to carry a coffin on their shoulders and lower it into the grave with a cord, grieving families, funeral directors and council staff are having to perform a high risk operation which involves more people than necessary being in close proximity.“It would be difficult to devise a less Covid safe, insensitive policy if they tried”.

Council boss Thomas Glen, said: "We understand how difficult restrictions at funeral services are for those who are bereaved and wish to pay their final respects to a loved one."We continue to review funeral restrictions on a regular basis in line with current rates of infection, public health risks, and the impact on bereaved families.

"Whilst there has been a change from Scottish Government, the current rates of infection and potential for impact on our limited resources within our burial teams has required that we continue to operate a degree of restrictions to minimise contact between funeral parties and Council employees."At present if a family wish, they may carry the coffin from the hearse and set down at the graveside.

"At this point the pallbearers will be expected to take a few steps back, creating a safe social distance between themselves and Council employees.

"Our operatives will then step forward and lower the coffin into the ground before stepping away and returning only after family and mourners have left the graveside.”