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Covid Has Changed the Way Many Plan Funeral Services

Updated on August 15, 2020
More funeral services are private since COVID-19.
More funeral services are private since COVID-19.

The way we were

I grew up in a community where when people died, there would be a wake the night before at the funeral home that was 10 miles away. The next day the service would take place in our church which was within walking distance of most of the members. Sometimes the dead body was left in the home until the service began rather than the funeral home and then brought to the church. There would be people in the family home to clean up, cook, receive guests, and write down the names of those who gave food or cards with money. There was someone in the home of the deceased 24/7 until after they had been eulogized. Family and friends often gathered after the service to talk, eat and reminisce. Sometimes there would be drinking and stories told about the person who had just been buried. When well-known pastors or Bishops died they would have large services with numerous other preachers in attendance. A lot of money has been in the past spent on funerals. I know of one that cost $12,000. Today, however, COVID-19 is changing the way a lot of people are handling services for their dead loved ones.

Cremation urn. Thank
Cremation urn. Thank

Our current situation

Now because of the coronavirus, in many cases people are no longer offered the opportunity to pay their respects to the family, or even to attend the service. Instead of large gatherings, wakes the night before and long services, most folks are having graveside services or only allowing the immediate family to attend the actual eulogy. I have been noticing in my local newspaper that there are some who do not even list information about any type of service. They have an obituary where the family members are listed and that's it. Nothing is mentioned about public or private service and the reader has to read between the lines or call the funeral home for details. I have read a few obituaries that only list the date of birth and the day the person died. COVID is forcing Americans to make changes in regard to the final rights of the deceased. There still have been regular services but they are few and far between. The number of people who end up coronavirus positive from attending eulogies has been staggering. My husband and I have attended one funeral since this current situation began. Most everyone was social distancing and wore masks. I was alarmed, however when the entire family went up at one time to view the body prior to the casket being closed. There were about 20 people who were shoulder to shoulder and hugging. Thankfully that was more than a month ago and there has been no news of anyone testing positive.

Large funerals  may soon be a thing of the past.
Large funerals may soon be a thing of the past.

Go with the flow

I was watching the television series Greenleaf during the funeral of Bishop James. All that was shown was his immediate family watching his casket lowered down into the ground of the family cemetery on the grounds of their property. I once attended the funeral of a pastor who was a Bishop and about 20 other preachers and Bishops marched in 2 by 2 down the aisle. They were decked out in their official attire and for some reason, it turned me off because it seemed more pomp and circumstance than genuine. Perhaps the many are doing it now as well as the way the Greenleaf family laid their Bishop to rest is how it should have been all along. Certainly, cremation or graveside service is a lot less costly than a full funeral with a separate wake. Everyone will do what they believe is best for their personal situation but this new normal has a lot of folks rethinking putting out a lot of money that as my grandma used to say is only going into the ground. This is us now but many will not be able to go with the flow. I do hope that some will realize that it's OK not to put on a lavish homegoing service, especially if there is no money or insurance for it. No one should feel ashamed for choosing cremation. Neither should others try to cause an individual to feel guilty because they had no choice but to cremate their deceased loved one. Whether you have a normal funeral, a private service, a cremation only or only a graveside gathering, the choice is yours. There is no denying, however that COVID-19 has changed things and given us a new normal.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Cheryl E Preston


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