Funeral homes are facing a new reality of mourning in trying to follow social-distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic.
Family members of deceased loved ones are exploring several avenues to pay their respects. This includes postponing services, cremation, and opting to video record and live stream services for individuals unable to travel for service. Churches closing their doors to practice social distancing directly impacts how services are held for those affiliated.
Co-owner of Kibler-Brady-Ruestman Funeral Home, Dan Brady, said the changes are altering the grieving process in how they memorialize their loved ones.
“Whether that be, in this day of technology, electronic versions of things, whether that be a video, going to a Facebook page of a post of a family and extending their sympathies to them that way,” Brady said. “Via more online to our funeral home business or online condolences to the family is seen more and more and recommended versus coming to a service or visitation. Each family makes that decision, but we certainly as funeral directors direct them and try to give them the counsel and advice for everyone’s public safety.”
Some local cemeteries are limiting the number of people who could attend burials. Others are scrapping them altogether.
Brady, also a state representative, said families have the option to schedule a traditional service on the same day to minimize social gatherings and proceed with the funeral faster. Visitations are likely to be dropped or made private depending on the family’s request. However, he said more people are opting to postpone services, and he's seen at least a dozen cremations since the spreading of the virus.
Funeral homes are also asking visitors to send their condolences via email or phone if they are showing any symptoms of an illness. Hand sanitizers are being provided throughout the funeral home and surfaces in public areas are kept cleaned.
Alex Calvert, a co-owner of Calvert Froelich Memorial Home, Carmody Flynn Funeral Home and Beck Memorial Home, said families have been adjusting well. Fifteen families have postponed services until the stay-at-home order is lifted, and there is no increase in cremations.
“We have just two funeral directors at the funeral homes each day unless we would be busy enough to have a need for more,” Calvert said. “We’re allowing 10 (families) in at a time for any type of gathering to be able to see their loved ones and the same at cemeteries with distancing while we are there.”
Calvert said their funeral homes have switched to posting video and audio recording services to their websites so families and friends paying respects can watch at their convenience.
“Families would have us produce a memory video, which would include photos and use different types of skills used to be produced into a video. Instead of that, we’ve been subbing in the actual ceremony itself,” Calvert said.
Calvert said the funeral homes intends to continue using the new method of mourning and sees it as a potential option in the future.
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