Coronavirus is changing how we grieve, hold funerals

Experts talk about urgent coronavirus issues including which companies are hiring and how high school seniors are dealing with the situation. USA TODAY

How we grieve – often by holding a large gathering to celebrate a life – is changing during the coronavirus outbreak. 

With limits being placed on gatherings and businesses closing, funerals are being rethought to restrict attendance. 

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers ordered that gatherings be limited to no more than 10 people in an effort to curtail the coronavirus outbreak Tuesday afternoon. Three people in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19. 

Funeral homes are adapting to reduced attendance for end-of-life celebrations. They are asking families to consider a smaller funeral or waiting until after the pandemic to hold a large memorial service.

"Irrespective of (the restrictions), you're going to have deaths," said John Maher, the director of Brett Funeral Home. "So we have to keep working the best that we can. ... May there be an increase? I'm afraid to say there likely will be."

Religious services will change to allow for social distancing. The Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee is not holding funerals. Bishop Steven A. Miller said in a letter that "until the time of social distancing can be ended" that there would be no funerals.

Miller wrote that priests could officiate at graveside services, while being aware of the number of attendees. Catholics in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee will still be able to hold funerals, but attendance will be limited. Rabbis have said that they will likely stop sitting shiva at someone's home in the event of a death.The Islamic Society of Milwaukee said in a letter that its mosque was closed, and funeral prayers could not be performed there. Funeral prayers could be held at a funeral home with just family members, the Islamic Society said, or preferably at the cemetery. 

Maher said he understands people's need for closure, but there are other ways to get closure than risking contracting coronavirus at a large service.

"Here's a death, and you don't want to have more of them because of a funeral," Maher said. "You don't want to take a bad situation like a death of whatever nature and make it worse."

Maher said much of Brett Funeral Home's work is done on behalf of other funeral homes, cremation or small services.

Brett Funeral Home does not have the capability of doing a virtual funeral, but Maher said he envisions people recording funerals to later send to loved ones.

"We always have had visitors who have recorded it in some fashion and send it, for instance, out of the country," Maher said. "It had nothing to do with COVID-19. It was visa issues. So this has been done for a long time."

Jeff Kleczka, co-owner of Prasser-Kleczka Funeral Home, said he is asking people to avoid attending a funeral if they do not feel well and consider alternatives to physical embraces like putting a hand over one's heart or bowing.

Kleczka said if a family wants to do a smaller ceremony right away, an additional memorial service at a later date would come "with little to no expense to them."

Prasser-Kleczka is also being "even more so vigilant" in sanitizing common surfaces like door handles and railings.

"This is the history of funeral homes and funeral service," Kleczka said. "Our profession always adapts. We always do what we have to do for the families that we help."

Follow Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Sarah Hauer on Twitter: @SarahHauer

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2020/03/26/coronavirus-funeral-homes-adjust-smaller-ceremonies/2919033001/

News Related

ORTHER NEWS

Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »