Burnley funeral director reflects on 'frightening' impact of coronavirus
The founder of Burnley funeral directors Alderson and Horan has made an impassioned plea to residents in the town to follow government advice on social distancing as he reflected on the "frightening" impact on families and his own staff of the coronavirus pandemic.
An emotional Stephen Alderson spoke to the Burnley Express about his experiences in the traumatic last few weeks which have been like no other he has experienced in his 35 years as a funeral director.
Speaking over the phone today, having just conducted the funeral of a local coronavirus victim, Stephen reflected on how the virus has directly affected the care his firm can give to grieving families.
"One of the hardest parts for us as funeral directors is not being able to have that face-to-face contact with grieving families in their homes that we would normally have. It is very difficult for us because that is our vocation and it feels somewhat hostile on our part.
"Our care starts from long before the day of the actual funeral, which itself has been affected due to the measures, which have rightly been put in place."
Indeed, revealing that his firm has conducted funerals for 20 victims of coronavirus in the last week and a half in the Burnley area, Stephen called on the public to respect the lockdown measures.
"The situation for us is frightening as we are coming into contact with people who may have had the virus. As frontline workers my staff and I have been going through a lot of danger and anxiety so it is upsetting to see that some local people are not respecting the lockdown as they should be," he added.
"The government has issued this advice for a reason and the sooner everyone respects this the sooner we can get back to normal."
Currently, Burnley and Accrington Crematoriums are allowing only a maximum of 10 mourners with 15 people allowed for a burial at Burnley Cemetery.
Stephen added: "Families are absolutely devastated that the numbers of mourners has to be restricted and this is for all cases, not just coronavirus deaths. A lot are planning celebrations of a loved one's life in the future so this will be a difficult thing for them to do months down the line.
"I would just repeat again my appeal to the people of Burnley to respect the social distancing so we can get out of this sooner rather than later, and for everyone to take care."
Stephen also asked the Burnley Express to print the following poem as a symbol of hope for everyone during these difficult times.
It's when we suffer tragic loss,
They help us bear the heavy cross.
Preserving loved ones in their rest,
They try and fill each last request.
Within the valley's shadowed death,
They help us stop and catch our breath.
They offer comfort and relief
To cope with sadness, stress and grief.
From older folks to juveniles,
They walk us through the many trials.
And as we share our sad goodbyes,
We see compassion in their eyes.
With hope and wisdom to impart,
They comfort each sad, broken heart.
They offer guidance through the day
And gently help us find our way.