The funeral home industry has gone through serious changes since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The normal course of planning and attending an end-of-life service has been upended, and funeral homes are adjusting to the new normal.
Doug Familia, a funeral director with over 30 years’ experience, lays out how the funeral home industry has changed and how it is adapting to the strict health and safety requirements that have been put in place.
The first way in which funeral homes have had to change their practices is due to nationwide stay-at-home orders. When family members and friends are unable to leave their homes to go to a memorial service, they often feel upset that they are unable to say goodbye to their loved ones.
One way that funeral homes have tried to adapt to changing conditions is live-streaming services on Zoom or similar services. With live-streamed services, distant family, and friends who otherwise would have traveled to the funeral are able to show their respects safely.
Typically, in-person funeral services are limited to small groups of the closest family members, and social distancing and mask-wearing are practiced. This may not be the ideal situation for a family to go through, but it is the best option available in these difficult times.
Even as stay-at-home orders have been lifted across the country, many families still wish to keep in-person services small and socially distanced. As rates of infection decline however, more people are starting to return to services they may have avoided recently.
Funerals for COVID-19 patients are subject to restrictions laid out by the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and by state regulatory bodies. Certain funeral customs such as touching the deceased person’s body before it has been prepared for burial should be avoided. Funeral directors and religious leaders will be able to help families adapt their practices to keep everyone safe COVID 19.
Gloves, Hand Sanitizer, Masks and social distancing are utilized at Funeral Home’s to ensure the safety of all visitors and employees.
Outdoor Services Preferred
In the warm summer and autumn months, it is easier to have funeral services outdoors. Graveside services are preferred since it is easier to socially distance outside and there is a lower risk of disease transmission between the guests. If there is no graveside service planned, family members should consider having their service outside in any case. Funeral directors will be able to help families plan these services.
Another outdoor option is known as the “drive-by” funeral. Similar to graduations and birthdays, “drive-by” funerals in which the attendees join a car line passing the funeral home are becoming more common. These services may seem unusual to some, but if in-person attendance is important, some people might prefer drive-by funerals to attending a service on Zoom.
The COVID-19 pandemic has encouraged many people to plan their funeral services in advance. Funeral directors like Doug Familia are ready to assist with this pre-planning. People who want to be prepared in the eventuality of their deaths have the ability to decide how they want their Funeral Services to be handled. This can take social distancing into account and help to plan what out-of-state family members and friends should do to show respect for the deceased. People who are pre-planning their funeral services have more control about how their arrangements will proceed.
Lasting Changes in the Funeral Industry
Even after the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course, the changes experienced in the funeral industry are expected to continue. Many people believe that the health and safety procedures being practiced today will be adopted into daily life even after COVID's threat has passed.
Many consumers expect the live streaming of funeral services to happen after the pandemic has ended. The proportion of consumers who feel that it is absolutely necessary to attend a funeral in person has dropped from 42 percent to 26 percent.
A Changing Industry
Funeral homes have been hard at work adapting their practices to the needs of a changing time. Funeral directors like Doug Familia are ready to help families plan and perform safe ceremonies for their loved ones. With increased remote participation, increased safety measures and common sense, family members do not need to raise their risk of COVID-19 in order to have a meaningful celebration of the life of a loved one.