2020. Singularly the most depressing year known in my lifetime. Being a funeral director at the peak of the COVID19 pandemic, that is a whole other kind of depressing.
Imagine a casket surrounded by only a handful of bystanders; they are the only ones able to say goodbye to their loved ones while dozens or even hundreds are left out of their own opportunity for closure. Tears rolling out of eyes onto masks of all colors and designs. Families breaking down in front of me because they weren’t allowed in the hospital or nursing home to tell their Mom or Dad, “I love you”, one last time. Every day being met with a frustrated phone call from friends and relatives as I try to explain to them that only immediate family is legally allowed to attend the funeral of their loved one. Families separated by travel bans. And when we finally all come together hugging is frowned upon in the world of COVID19.
In March, April and May of 2020, the pain of losing a loved one was accompanied by unnatural mourning. In defense to the negative effects of losing someone, and losing someone during a pandemic, Glenville Funeral Home has pivoted with the time to make sure every family has a beautiful, honorable goodbye no matter the scenario.
Since June, we have opened our doors to relatives and friends to have the closure and goodbye they deserve. Funeral Homes are currently allowed up to 33% of the maximum occupancy. Luckily, Glenville Funeral Home is a larger, if not the largest, funeral space in the Capital Region. Our smooth one-way access and exit doors are ideal for larger crowds, while our door attendants take in consideration of max capacity. When you enter the open floor plan facility, hand sanitizing stations are present everywhere, as well as tracing forms to complete before going further. However, we understand not everyone feels safe to attend gatherings, that is why we strive to accommodate families in other ways:
-Private or Public ZOOM services using our smart TVs
-Public Facebook Live
-Filming service. This is the most private method.
*All service videos are downloaded and edited into HD version.
-Use of amplifier system for outdoor social distancing burials or memorial services.
-Friends and families separated by travel bans, or other reasons, can send letters, voice messages, videos, or even music to be shared virtually during funeral services.
Things you can do to show families you are thinking about them after a loss:
-Send a sympathy card. Hand written letters have more meaning than a simple Facebook comment.
-Send food. After a loss, families are so disheveled and often forget to eat. It’s always a nice gesture to provide a meal to grieving loved ones.
-Send a care package. In today’s world, it is challenging enough to find necessary household items. After losing someone, toilet paper, cleansing wipes and hand sanitizer may be the last thing people in mourning are thinking about.
-Materialistic things aren’t the most important thing, and we learn that even more so when we are faced with death. However, a sentimental gift to remember their loved one is considerate and well-welcomed. It is the thought that counts.
Immediately following a death, families are sometimes bombarded with sentimental condolences and outreach all at once. It is around 3 weeks after a passing when people are left alone with their thoughts and reality starts to kick in. This can be the loneliest time, please remember to check in on them during this time when they need you the most.
As a funeral director, our job is to help the grieving find the closure they need. Even though this pandemic has become a roadblock, we found alternate routes to save saying “goodbye”. We pray for 2021, and remain positive that we will be hugging one another again.
Photo credit: Gabriella Clare Marino
Article update: This article was published in early November. Today, December 9th, Glenville Funeral Home remains open for visitation and public funerals (following COVID19 rules and guidelines). However, Upstate New York is currently going through it's highest peak of COVID19 ever since the beginning of the pandemic. By the time you read this article restrictions may be enforced depending on the developing situation in our region. Please stay safe and keep hope in your heart.
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