A memorial service to comfort relatives and friends bereaved during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic will take place at York Minster, the Mother Church of Diocese of York, later in 2020.

The impact of the virus, and the national lockdown that has been in place to support the NHS and essential services during the emergency, has made it nearly impossible for relatives and friends to comfort and support their loved ones in their final hours and social distancing measures have resulted in restrictions for funerals and cremations.

The Revd Michael Smith, Canon Pastor at York Minster said that the circumstances have left many people feeling desolate and heartbroken. He said:

“One of the most painful aspects of the current ‘lockdown’ is that many people have been unable to sit by the side of loved ones as they died or to attend their funerals. When regulations are lifted there will be a Memorial Service at York Minster to enable those bereaved during the pandemic to grieve and to give thanks for loved ones who have died.

“The proposed York Minster Memorial Service will complement local, personal church services held across the Diocese of York for families wishing to commemorate a loved one who they were unable to visit at the end of their life and whose funeral they were unable to attend.

“We will announce the date for this service as soon as we can but we wanted people to know that in addition to what local ministers and churches will be doing for individual families, there will be an opportunity for anyone to come to a service at York Minster to grieve and give thanks for loved ones who have died, and to light a candle in their memory.

“We hope that in this way we will be able to walk alongside all who have been bereaved during the pandemic, and, by sharing the good news of God’s love, to bring some comfort and healing to all those who have been unable to grieve properly because of the present situation.”

Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council said: "My thoughts and condolences are with bereaved families and everyone affected by Coronavirus during this incredibly difficult time. It's important that we have time to reflect and pay our respects, so we welcome York Minster holding a memorial service, after restrictions have lifted, which I'm sure will bring some comfort to individuals and families after what has been an extremely difficult time.

"I would like to thank local faith leaders, including York Minster, for their work in hosting memorial services, as this will bring some much needed comfort to grieving families. The council will also ensure that services of remembrance are offered at York Crematorium to all families, and I know that council teams will continue to do all that they can to support those affected during this difficult time."