Coronavirus: 'I wasn't allowed to carry my mother's coffin'

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image copyrightBarry Lewis
image captionBarry Lewis said the "awful virus" has "turned lives upside down"

A councillor has described the "intense grief" he felt after having to bury his mother during coronavirus restrictions.

Derbyshire County Council leader Barry Lewis's mother Mary died, aged 84, on 5 March from pneumonia.

At her funeral service last week he was told he was unable to touch or carry the coffin because of the risk of contamination.

Mr Lewis said his grief had been more intense due to the "strange circumstances".

'Two metres apart'

Public health and safety restrictions mean funeral services have a limit of 10 attendees, and loved ones must stand two metres apart.

Mr Lewis told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "Until the last minute nearly we didn't know what form the funeral could take.

"We had to wait on a call the morning of the funeral to tell us what we needed to do when there - things like wait in or by your cars until collected, stand two metres apart and sit apart."

image copyrightBarry Lewis
image captionMary Lewis died on 5 March from pneumonia at Royal Derby Hospital

The number of mourners was severely curtailed - since the outbreak attendees have been limited - and the family plan to hold a memorial later.

Mr Lewis added: "The grief was more intense, somehow focused by the absence of others and the strange circumstances we were all living our lives in.

"We won't be alone in this experience - this will be the reality for many over the coming weeks, and I feel for every one of them going through it."

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