Funerals and burials adjust during COVID-19


Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Sarah Andrade, Staff Reporter

As we are living through a pandemic, everyone has had to adjust in many ways. Funerals and burials have been an unfortunate family event that has been drastically affected.

Even if we cannot say our goodbyes to our loved ones as we would’ve liked to, funerals and burials don’t have to be too difficult. Many funeral homes are making it easier for people to deal with loss.

Funeral homes are already well-versed in many ways to prevent the disease. They are implementing even stricter protocols to handle bodies infected with the novel Coronavirus.

Families of people who die from any cause, not just COVID-19, are asked to scale back how they memorialize their loved ones by changing or postponing funeral services. Also limiting the number of people who can attend and increasingly using online tools.

More than 75,848 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Riverside County, more than 1,374 deaths and 64,922 of these cases have been recovered, patients.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), CDC guidance states, “There is currently no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of COVID-19.” However, the CDC also notes, “People should consider not touching the body of someone who has died of COVID-19.”

Grieving the loss of a loved one during the fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19 and the pandemic can be overwhelming. It may be difficult for people to decide how to grieve and honor their loved ones safely.

This guidance is for individuals and families as they work with funeral directors, community and religious leaders and others to plan and hold funeral services and visitations during the pandemic.

The CDC released, “Funeral Guidance for individuals and families,” in which they created rules for the pandemic (precautions). Common practices included masks, temperature scans and social distancing.

The CDC mentioned how important it is to identify any potential concerns and determine options to make changes to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They state, “Preserve traditional practices when it is possible to safely do so, and identify whether modified or new practices could satisfy the needs and values of you and your loved one.”

It is also important to consider whether it would be acceptable to hold modified funeral arrangements by limiting attendance to a small number of immediate family members and friends.

Funeral homes have to make sure they follow these guidelines so that people at these events so people aren’t at risk and stay safe during the funerals and burials.

It is up to them to strictly organize and lead people when the family members can’t do it themselves. It is their job to make everything easier for the family, especially during the hard times COVID-19 makes everyone go through.

Unfortunately, most of these funeral homes didn’t expect this situation to affect them the way it did. They are still managing to make every experience better and easier for their clients, even if it’s very stressful and overwhelming.

Unfortunately, there is only much of what these funerals homes can do, so they don’t always get positive feedback from their clients during these hard times.

Resident Gloria Arroyo’s father recently passed away and explained her experience of saying goodbye to her loved one. Her father’s funeral took place in Coachella in the Funeraria Casillas funeral home, and the burial took place in the Coachella Valley Public Cemetery.

“First of all, they need to be more professional in the situation. I know it is their job to gather all the necessary information, but they can show a bit more sympathy to the family. They also seemed they lacked information,” Arroyo said.

For example, they had said no mass was available for that day, and they didn’t even have them available outside. Arroyo said, If they hadn’t called, her dad wouldn’t have a mass celebration due to COVID. She said, “They could have been more organized at the funeral services guiding people in and out and more professional. Lastly, a father couldn’t make his last blessing to my dad at the cemetery due to a misunderstanding with the other father. As a family, we had to give him his last blessing. Other than this is I guess everything else was okay. This was our first loss, so we wouldn’t know what to expect at first.”

Other people have had family members pass away due to having COVID and have had a different funeral or burial experience.

The CDC had made some recommendations for virtually joining these events since some families have bigger families and want all their family members to join them in any way. Some people have had decided to have their event in the same way by strictly following the guidelines, even if it can be a little too overwhelming.

Coachella resident Melissa Bernal recently had a family friend pass away from COVID. She explained her experience was very different and overwhelming.

The funeral home organized and lead the funeral a little differently while also encouraging to have family members from other states and countries to join and be there for the family as well as virtually.

Bernal said, “Well, they only allowed like 50 people, so a lot of his extended family couldn’t be there.” Most of his family was only there through FaceTime or the phone.

He also added, “A lot of people were just nervous to show up because of the virus. So the people who showed up had to be separated. Like we all had to be six feet apart and stuff like that. We couldn’t go up to the family could. They also didn’t allow us to go up to the family to say your condolences either. It was like watching it through a screen, I guess.”

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country, the CDC encourages residents to stay home and follow all the guidelines even at these events. Saying goodbye to our loved ones during this pandemic may be the worst feeling right now, but we have to keep in mind that we are in this together.