Skip to content   Skip to footer navigation 

“It felt so unfinished" - funerals during COVID-19

Families share their experiences as consumer advocate CHOICE gives guidance on your rights.

"It felt so unfinished" - that's how Victoria Zilizi described the experience of a COVID-19 funeral to CHOICE journalist Saimi Jeong.

"In the sense of letting go of emotions with each other and mourning the loss of a beautiful woman." Being unable to touch each other, she says, meant the family was unable to properly comfort each other properly. "This is not what a family should remember." 

Extract from How to mourn in the time of COVID-19 - CHOICE.com.au - Please link back if possible.

"There's no doubt that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the funeral experience," says Jeong.

"Speaking to these families, it's clear nothing can quite replace the rituals we're used to. Families told me about missing the sense of touch and being able to comfort each other in their time of need. Fortunately, families also told us that funeral directors are adapting and doing their best to provide a respectful send-off in the circumstances."

Following CHOICE's 2019 investigation into the funeral industry, there are lingering questions about what your consumer rights are in relation to funeral services during COVID-19, particularly pre-paid funerals.

"If you have a pre-paid funeral you may face some challenges. Some services may not be able to be delivered because of government rules to protect our health. Unfortunately, the Australian Consumer Law won't guarantee you a refund for pre-paid services that can't be delivered because of government-mandated COVID-19 restrictions but there are other ways to get a fair outcome," says Ms Jeong.

"If you have a pre-paid funeral ask to see the contract - it should outline exactly what was meant to be delivered and what you may be owed if a service can't be delivered. Regardless of the contract terms an ethical business should proactively offer you a refund for anything they can't deliver on. If you're in a situation where you can't receive a refund or a fair outcome from a prepaid funeral, we want to know. Share your story on CHOICE's community forums or email us at newstips@choice.com.au."

CHOICE journalist Saimi Jeong is available for interview. The families quoted are not available for further comment.

We'd appreciate a link back to our site on your platforms if possible: www.choice.com.au/restrictedfunerals

Media contact: Katelyn Cameron, media@choice.com.au, 0430 172 669