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Local experts give families advice in dealing with COVID-19 funeral delays

Posted at 9:49 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 23:11:27-04

CLEVELAND — COVID-19 restrictions continue to have an impact on hundreds of Northeast Ohio families who have delayed a final goodbye for loved ones they've lost during the on-going pandemic.

Brian Cruse and his family lost both of their parents in a four-month period, losing his father in Nov. 2019, before pandemic restrictions, and losing his mother in April 2020.

The Cruse family continues to wait to give their mother a final celebration of life until they feel comfortable with the circumstances.

"When my mother died, that one was just a real sucker punch, because we didn’t see it coming,” Cruse said.

“With my mother even today, that closure is still isn’t there.”

“She deserves one last performance that we just haven’t as a family have not yet felt comfortable doing.”

“It’s been very rough, and it is still very much, all these months later, from the beginning of April until now, still much of an open wound there.”

Mark Busch, Owner of Busch Funeral and Crematory Services said his team is helping the Cruse family through the difficult process.

Busch said his seven Northeast Ohio locations have more than four dozens final funerals, or memorial celebrations, put on-hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Busch said his team has taken many steps to keep communication open with these families, as they wait for a time that is most comfortable for them.

“It's been disruptive to just about every element of death, dying and bereavement,” Busch said.

“It requires more interaction, utilizing technology.”

"We need to try and determine how we best have family gatherings, how can we best have public visitations, how can we best have public services.”

“65% of the public thinks pre-arrangement is a good idea, yet only 30% do anything about it.”

“We’ve been able to develop a way to stay in contact with these families, to companion them during this new waiting period of having a funeral.”

Busch said families need to do their online homework and consider a companies facilities, services and it's ability to communicate virtually during this pandemic.

“What are their abilities to help you with technology solutions, not only for the arraignment process but also for the service process,” Busch said.

“We have the ability to help families with social security, we have the ability to help families with veteran’s benefits, life insurance matters.”

The Federal Trade Commission told News 5 it's once again exploring requiring all funeral services companies to display pricing on their websites.

Ed Michael Reggie, founder of Funeralocity said his website is a tool to help families search out pricing for funeral services during this difficult time.

“We looked at the federal funeral rule and gone out and gotten the prices ourselves and we put them on," Reggie said.

"Families can, for want of a better synonym, shop at a time of need."

"The most recent National Funeral Directors Association survey showed that 83% of consumers called only one funeral home at a time of need.”

“Pricing can vary greatly for similar services, in Cleveland, you could get direct cremation for $795, or $4,375.”

Jim Milano, Owner of Milano Monuments in Cleveland warned that families should not make decisions on price alone.

"We can design a memorial virtually on-line as if they were here in the showroom,” Milano said.

“It’s not just about the investment in the service, but it’s also what are you getting and what is the family receiving.”

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