HOW IS THE PANDEMIC AFFECTING END-OF-LIFE FAREWELLS AND FUNERALS
The spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 raises the issue of how we can safely meet and say farewell to loved ones at the end of life, as well as how funerals should be conducted. Efterlevandeguiden follows recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten) and the information contained in the guide is updated as and when required.
Relatives wishing to say farewell to a loved one who is in hospital or a care home need information about the procedures that apply to that facility.
Contact the relevant head of unit to find out what applies.
Saying farewell by telephone or video call
If there is no possibility of saying farewell in person, you can ask staff to help arrange a meeting via a video link using FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Zoom or a similar program that allows the participants to see one another. While the organisation is under no obligation to assist, it will do no harm to ask if it is possible.
Arranging the funeral - don’t postpone but do adapt
According to Swedish law, the deceased shall be cremated or buried in a coffin no latter than one month after death. It is permitted to hold a cremation first and then a burial ceremony for the urn at a later date. Funerals play an important role in the grieving process.
It is always possible to hold a funeral service and it is important that you contact your parish or a funeral director as quickly as possible to find out about any special provisions regarding funerals during the pandemic. Do not postpone the funeral but be prepared to adapt your plans. The funeral director will be able to help you with this.
The number of guests that are allowed at funerals depends on the ability to maintain a safety distance. Contact the funeral director to get information about what applies to your particular situation.
At memorial services, the Public Health Agency's recommendations applies and what kind of restrictions that exist in the premises.
Bear in mind
try to plan the funeral as soon and with as few guests as possible;
saying goodbye is an important part of the grieving process;
the funeral should be adapted to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus;
guests can participate in the funeral digitally
there is no need to hold the funeral and the memorial service on the same day.
Webcasting the funeral
Many funeral directors offer live broadcasts of funerals, making it possible for anyone who for whatever reason is unable to attend in person to participate and follow the ceremony online in real time on the deceased’s memorial page.
Find out what services funeral directors can offer.
Memorial services and the burial of urns can be planned for a later date
It is permitted to hold a cremation first and then a burial ceremony for the urn at a later date. Once a cremation has taken place, the family has one year to decide on what form a ceremony and burial should take.
You may want to bury the coffin with only the closest relatives in attendance and then hold a memorial service for other friends and relatives at a later date.
Crisis information and support for relatives
Swedish public authorities and other stakeholders have compiled information regarding new conditions that may affect farewells at the end of life and funerals. This includes recommendations to relatives and more detailed information about current rules and regulations due to the pandemic.
If you are a relative who is arranging the funeral yourself, you will need a certificate from the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket) stating that the deceased may be cremated or buried. Contact the Swedish Tax Agency to order the certificate Kremering/gravsättning.
Occupational injuries and fatalities as a result of the coronavirus
Anyone who has contracted COVID-19 through their work nursing or treating those with the disease may be entitled to financial compensation. In the event of occupational injury, the individual may be entitled to an annuity from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan).
In the event of death, survivors are entitled to an annuity or funeral allowance from the Swedish Pensions Agency (Pensionsmyndigheten). This applies to occupational injuries incurred from 1 February 2020 onwards.
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