Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

Social isolation and funerals - some information and guidance 

Not being able to go to or participate in the funeral or memorial service of someone we care about can be distressing.

Attending a funeral or memorial service can be an important part of our grieving and healing process, to be together with and support others, to give thanks, pay our respects, do what we feel is right. 

There are various things that we can do which may be helpful when we can't attend.

Services might be live streamed or recorded so we can watch via a computer or phone. It is worth asking those arranging a funeral if this is possible.  

Sometimes when there is a funeral service this may also be followed by a memorial service some weeks or months later.

So if people cannot get to the funeral they might be able to attend the memorial service.

Many organisations such as churches and hospices, offer regular memorial events. 

If you know when a service or event is going to take place but can't attend then you might like to think about doing something special at the same time.

This might be lighting a candle or incense at home alone or with other members of your household, saying some prayers, reading from religious texts, meditating, playing some music, displaying a photo of your loved one, arranging some flowers or other meaningful objects or having some special food.

Wearing particular clothes or going for a walk or drive to a special place might also be possible for you. For some observing a period of mourning may be important.

Some religious organisations will be able to offer resources online if you don't have any yourself.

You could also contact us at the GWH Chaplaincy or your local minister or religious representative for materials and information. 

After or before a funeral has taken place it may be possible to send a card or email to family or make a donation to charity in memory of someone.

If there is to be a burial or interment of ashes it will usually be possible for close family to arrange for a memorial stone to be placed.

This can be a helpful thing in the grieving process.

It may also be possible to visit alone a grave or place where ashes may be scattered any time afterwards. Many find these visits helpful.

Ask the family of the person who has died if you do not know where to visit. 

Being unable to attend a service or event for any reason can leave a lasting memory that we find difficult.

Many organisations offer counselling and support that can help with this, to help you talk about and address your needs.

The various support organisations will be looking in to how they can offer more telephone and online support.

Lead Chaplain

Spiritual support

Please see the Inter Faith Network website: Faith communities and coronavirus (

Here for everyone

The hospital chaplaincy is here for everyone - patients, relatives and staff - whether you describe yourself as 'religious' or not.

A chaplain is someone who can listen to you, offer you support, pray with you and help you make contact with a minister of your own faith.

The central room of the Chaplaincy is set aside for you to come and be quiet, whatever your philosophy of life, whatever your religion.

It is a space for peace, contemplation and affirmation.


Fundamental to the Chaplaincy are the principles that:

  • Every person has physical, psychological and spiritual needs.

    The Trust is committed to holistic care - this means "promoting physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being".
  • Every individual expresses spiritual needs in their own unique way.

    The Chaplains work flexibly to give sensitive spiritual and pastoral care.
  • Respect for an individual's spiritual needs - including their religious beliefs - is always important.

    Spiritual care has to be delivered in a way which is even-handed and appropriate, to everyone - patients, staff and relatives.
  • The Chaplaincy is committed to help people who desire to find continuing support from spiritual or secular agencies in the community after they leave hospital. 


Great Western Hospital - first floor, to the right of the main lifts, before the Eye Clinic (please see Floor plans).

Contact us

Tel: 01793 604288 (this is an answering service, picked up within 24 hours)

If you require the help of a hospital chaplain at any time (including bank holidays and out of hours):

Tel: 01793 604020 and ask for the 'On-Call Chaplain'

The Chaplaincy Centre
The Great Western Hospital
Marlborough Road

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