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Funeral homes finding alternatives for grieving families during COVID-19

Posted at 12:19 PM, Apr 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 12:19:51-04

PARMA, Ohio — The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact on the way funeral homes are operating during this unprecedented time.

The global health crisis is putting a strain on funerals, visitations and memorial services due to concerns about community spread of the virus at large gatherings.

For hurting families, grieving the loss of a loved one looks different these days.

“Families are trying to find ways to honor their loved ones, remember them in these days while trying to adapt to the restrictions,” David Walters said.

COVID-19 is adding more stress during an already painful time as hospitals and nurses have cut down on visitors.

“Because a lot of people didn’t have the opportunity to go be bedside as somebody passed, so that’s probably the biggest thing we’ve seen,” James Busch said, “Where typically you’d see the whole family rally and be there at the place of death, it’s not happening.”

At Busch Funeral Home in Parma, the staff is finding ways to assist those families while following CDC recommendations.

“We’re in larger spaces,” Busch said, “We’re in our lounges and larger gathering areas where we can social distance and make sure that people feel comfortable.”

At Rose Hill Funeral Home in Akron, Kent Jarvis was honored Tuesday at a drive-thru visitation.

“So we just came up with an idea with the facility talking about a way to allow their congregation to come out and pay their final respects,” Walters said.

The facility is also allowing visitations while limiting the number of loved ones allowed inside the building.

“We did 45-minute segments,” Walters said. “The pastor did a short eulogy during each segment for the family and friends that came through.”

Both funerals homes are prioritizing closure during uncertain times.

“We’ve made sure that we have a nice private space for families to be able to come and spend time with their loved one because that is a huge part of the healing process,” Busch said.