It is a terrible time not just because the spread of Covid-19 is resulting in many more deaths in Oxfordshire than normal, but it has transformed the nature of the funerals.

Not only are there restrictions on the number of people who can attend a funeral, but social distancing means they cannot comfort or hug each other unless they are part of the same household.

This means that many friends and relatives who would like to celebrate the person`s life are generally unable to do so.

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I am a humanist celebrant from Sutton near Eynsham, and I have been suggesting that the bereaved families consider holding memorials well after their loved one has passed away.

Many people are now opting for immediate cremation with no-one, or just the immediate family attending, followed some months later with a memorial.

This will be on the basis that by then the main restrictions will be over and friends and relatives can gather together to celebrate the deceased’s life.

There are many advantages in this as a date can be put in peoples diaries many weeks if not months in advance of the event, there will be no time restrictions on the length of the ceremony or celebration and a less sombre and more flexible venue can be chosen such as a garden, pub, hotel or village hall.

I’ve been a qualified humanist celebrant for six years and the number of non-religious funerals has grown considerably over recent years as people want a funeral that is all about the person who has died and celebrating his life.

Also a memorial allows more adventurous contributions such as live music and the chance that refreshments after the service can be offered in the same venue.

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The last memorial I was involved with was for a 25-year-old who had died suddenly of a brain seizure.

I organised the event and delivered the eulogy.

It was on a Saturday in the deceased`s local village hall; some three hundred people attended; people who knew him in the village some dating back to his schooldays; people he knew from work and friends from the open mic circuit in local pubs where he sang and played the guitar.

So as well as the eulogy and tributes from close friends and relatives there was plenty of live music from his friends and then after the ceremony a bar was open and a side room covered in dishes of food such as sandwiches, pies, dips, cakes all provided by other villagers.

Such an event makes, in my view, a huge contribution to the grieving process both of the immediate family and the whole community.

Of course at the moment we have no real idea when such events involving large numbers of people are going to be allowed.

Meanwhile some funerals are being carried out in more innovative ways.

Last week I conducted a funeral of a man aged 73 who was one of the best known and respected people in his local village.

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The funeral took place in his beloved garden with just nine people including his immediate family and two close friends. The hearse was followed on foot by the nine mourners, and his coffin was driven from his house through the village and onwards to the crematorium where he was buried.

The timings and route were publicised locally - via email, facebook, etc - and a huge number of the villagers, observing social distancing, lined the route lifting a glass to toast the deceased, clapping him or waving a flag as the hearse passed by demonstrating particularly to his family how much he was loved.

Mr Parker can be contacted through the website