Since the start of the COVID pandemic, over 6 million people have died from the disease as of March 18, 2022 – placing a significant strain on hospitals and healthcare facilities. Equally affected have been death care services, including mortuaries, funeral homes, crematoriums, and cemeteries. he overload on these services has forced families to adjust to unforeseen situations in already tragic circumstances in planning for the death of a loved one. The impact also affect the planning and arrangement of funeral services for individuals who have died of non-COVID related causes.
Here are some of the most significant impacts that the pandemic has had on burial or cremation services:
- Strain on Availability of Funeral and Memorial services: The limited availability of safe and in most cases outdoor funeral venuess have forced families to get creative in planning memorial services for loved ones. Under such conditions, simple cremation services have provided a way for families to organize their own events in outdoor locations where booking is a non-issuet and where social distancing can be easily adhered to.
- Forced Delays in Memorial Services WIth the unprecedented demand for funeral home services, families have needed to wait longer than usual to schedule a date to hold a memorial event. For obvious reasons, the body of the deceased cannot be preserved indefinitely, and health guidelines in many areas have mandated a limited amount of time in which the individual who died from COVID must be interred or cremated. This has encouraged many families to opt for an immediate cremation that will allow them some flexibility in organizing a funeral or memorial service.
- Limitations on the Number of Attendees at Memorial Services On top of restrictions related to the number of people allowed to congregate in a single location, and social distancing guidelines, COVID has imposed limitations on many people’s ability to travel on short notice. Many still are not willing to take the risk associated with commercial travel, and thus feel that despite the desire to attend the services of a loved one or to support friends and family members of the deceased, they do not feel safe traveling to a memorial service. This has left many grieving families with far less emotional support than they would otherwise receive in such times of such emotional turmoil. Many families have attempted to compensate for this by distributing cremation jewelry and other memorial objects to friends and family members who have been unable to attend services in person as a way to connect with and cherish the memory of their lost beloved deceased.
- New protocols for the Handling of Bodies Due to the potential transmission of COVID from the boddy of a deceased person, new protocols have been adopted to reduce the chances of transmitting COVID in such situations. These protocols include provisions to avoid contact with the body of a COVID related death – such traditions as open caskets, touching or kissing the deceased, and any contact with the body are impermissible. Additionally, transportation of the body must be handled with extra caution, and for these and many other practical reasons, families may consider is cremation better than burial for dealing with the logistics, scheduling, and costs.
As the world copes with the COVID pandemic, the number of deceased reported can seem overwhelming and impersonal, but the devastating impact on the families and friends of those who have died of COVID is highly personal and emotionally painful. The sheer numbers of fatalies - now topping 1 million in the US along with the nature of the contagiousness of the disease has meant that familieis have sought new options. A simple cremation has grown in popularity as a great way for families to arrange a funeral for a loved one during this temporary and a difficult state of affairs.
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