Funerals services have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aaron Kucharik, managing director of Price & Sons Funeral Home, said people have started to delay memorial services for cremations until the COVID-19 situation quiets down so people can “attend without having that fear.”
Craig Boomhower, co-owner of Garnand Funeral Home, said they are also seeing a delay in memorial services because families don’t want to travel right now.
“(They’re) waiting to schedule memorial services when the restrictions are over,” he said.
Kucharik said they have shortened visitation hours for traditional funerals with caskets to “decrease the exposure of staff and families, asking anyone with a fever, cough or other symptoms of COVID-19 to pay respect from a distance.”
Ashely Cozine, owner of Cozine Memorial Group, said they have increased their visitation hours so more people can come in, over a longer period of time, so everyone doesn’t feel the need to come in at once.
Cozine said he is also seeing limited attendance and plans for memorial or celebration of life services at a later date.
“Typically with people having burials ... there’s limited attendance, and a lot of people are just doing more of a private family burial,” he said. “I think lots of people’s intentions are to do something more public when this all blows over.”
Kucharik said he’s seeing the same thing, people are having small funerals with 50 people or fewer in attendance, or graveside only service with a public memorial service planned for an alternate date.
Boomhower said funerals can still happen as long as they follow the social gathering restrictions and social distancing.
“The last two funerals the families have chosen to have public visitation hours and the funeral times have not been made public and the families have notified who they want to invite themselves,” he said. “On both of these the churches have been large enough to accomplish the social distancing requirements.”
Cozine said it’s difficult to have restrictions on the number of people who can attend funerals.
Their chapel can seat 200 and they typically saw between 100 and 150 people attend funerals, but 200 is not out of the norm.
However, they do have the ability to broadcast funerals so people who can not personally be in attendance, can still virtually attend.
“The first number was 50, and with that we found about 20-25 people coming to a service, so not the 50 person capacity,” he said. “But now we’re at 10, and that’s a whole other level, most families have more than 10, so that’s going to be more of a challenge.”
Communication with those who have lost a loved one is critical right now, Cozine said.
“A funeral or memorial service plays an important role because they bring friends and family together and (right now) we can’t have it to the level we’re used to,” he said. “I’m concerned that people aren’t going to remember to reach out as much.”
Human interaction after someone loses a loved one is important because it surrounds that person with a support group of family and friends, Cozine said.
Cozine had a friend who lost her husband not long ago, and when he asked how she was doing before the service, she said she wasn’t doing well.
A week or so after the service, he ran into her and again asked how she was doing, she said she was much better, Cozine said. She told him she was better because she had friends and family around to tell her how much her husband meant to them and they told her stories.
“It’s important not to lose sight of friends (or family) who lose loved ones ... because they won’t have the opportunity to have the service for a little while longer than they typically would,” he said. “People need to reach out and let them know they’re thinking of them. We can’t lose that sense of community even though we’re social distancing.”