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Funerals during a pandemic: things to keep in mind

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, and it’s affecting how we deal with death, too. Here are some things to keep in mind if you have to arrange a funeral during this time.

As of late summer 2020, most states are reopening to some degree, but there are still restrictions on the size of gatherings in many states. These may also change and become stricter if outbreaks recur. Aside from state restrictions on gatherings, many people are not willing to travel far from where they live.

If circumstances prevent people from gathering for a funeral, consider these options.

Direct cremation or immediate/direct burial These are the simplest services at most funeral homes. They don’t include ceremonies or gatherings, and they’re usually the most affordable options. Families can organize a virtual memorial service, or plan an in-person gathering later.

Streaming viewings/funerals Many funeral homes are offering livestreams of viewings or funeral ceremonies for those who can’t attend in person. Check with your funeral home about options and price.

Graveside service A ceremony outside at the place of burial may be a good option if indoor gatherings are limited. Nearly all funeral homes offer a graveside service for caskets and urns.

Does someone in your family have a prepaid funeral? If the death occurs during the pandemic and there are restrictions in your state on the size of gatherings, it’s wise to take a look at your prepaid contract. Does it include one or two days of viewing, or a funeral ceremony at the funeral home or at church? If your state has restricted attendance at gatherings and the ceremonies you planned and the numbers of people you anticipated can’t be accommodated, talk to the funeral home about a price adjustment.

Funeral homes can’t control the pandemic, but families can’t either. If services need to be scaled back, funeral home should be willing to make a reasonable partial refund to share the burden with the customer family.