While the nation prepares itself to face the brunt of the COVID-19 outbreak, the question arises – how does this pandemic affect funeral homes? They deal with death, a job that often survives the impact of recession.
COVID-19 is having a significant impact on the way the funeral homes function and conduct their business. While they already have measures in place to prevent disease, they still have to implement stringent protocols. The reason is to comply with the directives of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
New directives from the Texas DSHS
Texas DSHS, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has been working to respond to the outbreak. The commissioner of Texas DSHS, Dr. John Hellerstedt, announced on March 19, 2020, that this was a public health disaster.
As per the latest directive, businesses in the state have to follow sanitation, cleanliness, and hygiene practices, to curb the spread of the disease. It doesn’t permit social groups to have more than 10 members at a time. Also, it mandates that every individual maintains a minimum distance of six feet from other people. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) released a guide to inform funeral homes on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Impact of COVID-19 on funeral homes
Due to these directives, funeral homes now only permit small gatherings, with 10 people or less, with most of them being family members. Businesses are switching to live streams on the inter, to overcome the restrictions on the number of individuals who can attend the service.
Some families are postponing the funeral service, due to the challenges posed by the outbreak. Another obstacle that funeral homes are facing is to coordinate with cemeteries and churches, to find out whether they are open.
These businesses have always been ready to deal with infectious diseases by taking measures to ensure that everyone is safe and secure.
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With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting life as we know it, we have had to make significant adjustments in our lives during the past several weeks. Some states and countries are in lockdown, while others are urging people not to go out.
These distressing times have made funerals very difficult. Whether you have lost a loved one to the virus or because of other reasons, you are denied long-serving traditions to which you are accustomed for saying your last goodbyes. Planning a funeral in normal circumstances is already difficult, and this current situation adds a whole other layer of stress.
Here are some tips that you may find helpful if you have to plan a funeral during the coronavirus pandemic.
While planning the funeral, it’s best to avoid meeting people in person and the best thing to do is work out everything over the phone, email, or video chats. The good news is that today, most funeral homes, as well as other businesses in the industry with whom you may need to get in touch, can coordinate with you over the phone and email, which makes the process much easier.
At this time, large congregations of people are not allowed. So, one thing you can do is live-stream the funeral so that people won’t actually be physically present. There are plenty of live-streaming devices you can use, which are user-friendly, easy to set up, and can be accessed with ease from a phone, tablet, or laptop.
Nowadays, even before the pandemic, more and more families are opting to hold memorial services for their loved ones a few months after their death. This gives them more time to mourn properly and also reduces the stress of planning. While this is more ideal for cremation, if you are opting for burial, you can plan a small funeral now and plan a larger event for a later date.
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A funeral is a solemn service where people offer their last respects to the departed soul. You attend a funeral to offer condolences. It is advisable to dress modestly and conservatively. The purpose of dressing at a funeral is not to call attention towards yourself due to your attire.
Wear conservative colors and styles. Wearing all black is not always necessary. Simply wearing dark solid colors can also suffice. Avoid all bright colors or prints such as bright floral prints or wild prints.
Dressing Etiquette for Women
Women attending a funeral service can wear blouses and skirts. Dresses and pantsuits that don’t accentuate curves, legs or cleavage should be worn. Showing off too much skin in the form of plunging necklines and short hemlines is usually not acceptable. Wearing minimal accessories is another dressing etiquette that should be followed. It is advisable to wear low heeled shoes or flats. Keep the hairstyle and makeup natural and simple.
Dressing Etiquette for Men
Men should not wear a graphic or printed T-shirt to a funeral service. A conservative suit is an appropriate choice for such occasions. Men can also wear pants with a blazer or just a buttoned shirt with slacks. Men should avoid wearing a sports cap. Anything that is conservative and doesn't draw attention can be worn. Also keep the hairstyle simple. Usually pall bearers are asked to wear certain attire.
Although a person is expected to dress in a conservative manner, there can be religions or cultures that follow a different set of rules and dressing norms pertaining to a funeral service. If the deceased person belonged to a culture that is totally different from yours and you are unsure about what to wear, it is a good idea to ask. Some cultures consider a funeral as a celebration of life where the family of the deceased may even ask people to wear festive clothing.
If the deceased person was a veteran, then a military uniform can be an acceptable dress code for the funeral service if currently active in the military.
Dressing appropriately for a funeral shows respect for the deceased while preventing undue drama.
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When a funeral ceremony and the place of burial are in different locations, the casket is transported to the cemetery. This is called a funeral procession. Even if you haven’t participated in one, you have probably seen it. Usually several cars follow each other and are escorted by special motorcyclists. Funeral processions should be respected with proper etiquette as it is a solemn time for those who are laying their loved ones to rest.
Here are a few tips that you should follow if you are taking part in a funeral procession:
Don’t be late and follow instructions
Make sure you are on time so that you don’t miss out on any important instructions for the procession. Usually the funeral director or whoever is in charge will give instructions such as who should go in which car, the positions in line of each of the vehicles, and what to do once you reach the burial site.
Turn on your headlights
Before the procession starts, you need to turn on your headlights. This is a way of letting people know that your car is part of the funeral procession. If you are the last one in the line, you might be given two flags and/or be asked to flash the hazard lights. This lets other drivers on the road know that the procession has passed, and they can carry on with their normal speed.
Maintain the speed
Make sure that you maintain the speed of the group. Usually the cars will go slowly, and each should stay in line and follow in the procession. Your vehicle should not be too far from the one in front of you as well. Most of all, pay attention to the vehicle in front of you.
What to do when not in the Funeral Procession
Please be respectful of the person who has passed away and the family. When travelling in the opposite direction of the procession pull to the right of the roadway and stop. This also allows the motorcycle escorts to do their job efficiently and safely. Don’t begin travelling again until the last car in the procession has passed you. And when travelling in the same direction, do not pass the cars in the procession.
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A wake is typically a Catholic tradition where close friends and family members stay up all night with the body of the departed, usually at home. The belief is that they can protect the deceased from evil spirits. A priest or deacon may be present to read scriptures or recite the rosary and food and beverages can be provided.
Another way to celebrate a wake is to conduct a service, usually with prayers and scripture at the funeral home. Following may be recitation of a rosary and then eulogies.
A wake is often held a day before the funeral.
A viewing is an opportunity for friends and family of the deceased to say goodbye and pay their respects. It is different from a wake or funeral because it is much more informal and unstructured. People can stay for hours, or they can just drop by. They can also share their thoughts and feelings with other mourners and offer support to each other.
A viewing is usually held in the funeral home on the day of the funeral itself, or even the day before. The body of the deceased is often displayed so guests can say goodbye in a personal and intimate manner.
A funeral is a formal service that provides loved ones to say their final goodbyes. It is usually hosted at funeral homes, churches, or the home of the deceased. Burial is part of the ceremony and can be public or private. There is no set period during which a funeral should be held after death. While some people have it a day or two after the person has passed away, some choose to have it a week or two later. It can be done with the body or cremated remains present.
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