As Cache Valley restaurants, churches and schools look to mitigate the effects of COVID-19, funeral homes are employing their own unique ways of handling the pandemic.
Hyrum Lantz of Sunset Valley Cremation and Burial Services said there are some “misguided conceptions” about how funeral homes are faring during this time.
“It’s actually pretty difficult right now,” Lantz said, “because there are people that are tightening up their wallets.”
Lantz said Sunset Valley has implemented a series of changes in response to COVID-19: prescheduled appointments only as opposed to walk-ins, no more than three people during arrangements, and offering graveside services exclusively. Lantz said updated information is posted daily on their door.
Lantz said for the time being Sunset Valley is also limiting attendance at viewings as well. He said parties no more than three are allowed to observe at a time, with one-hour intervals in between parties.
“If there’s a possibility that it’s airborne, you have to have time for ventilation between parties,” Lantz said. “That’s an overabundance of precaution, but it is wisdom, because you just want to protect everybody.”
Justin Wilson, a funeral director apprentice at Cache Valley Mortuary in Hyde Park, said his mortuary is limiting attendance to 10 people in a room and is suggesting graveside services as well.
“Either direct burials or direct cremations,” Wilson said, “and then holding a service at a later date when everything kind of calms down a little bit.”
Wilson said the majority of clients at his mortuary have elected to do direct burials or cremations with postponed services instead of limiting attendance.
Jase Allen of Allen-Hall Mortuary said they are emphasizing flexibility with their clients while adhering to COVID-19 recommendations. Allen said they have shortened the length of funeral services, stopped public viewings and begun live-streaming funeral services via YouTube or private link to a Nest camera in the Mortuary’s chapel.
Allen said funeral service live-stream can be public or private depending on the family’s wishes; the Nest cam link given to family and friends resets after each service. Allen said they installed the live-stream camera a couple months prior to the COVID-19 pandemic as another option for families.
“We were upgrading cameras and security anyway, and we thought, ‘you know, let’s put a camera in the chapel if anyone ever wants to stream a service,’” Allen said. “And it just so happens that this happened.”
All mortuary spokespersons who spoke with The Herald Journal said their clientele had been understanding during this trying time.
“The families have been great,” Allen said. “We’re trying to be sensitive with it too, but the families have all been fabulous and understanding.”
Some families are simply scared, Wilson said. However, he said the added stress of COVID-19 on top of the death of a loved one is being handled well.
“It’s a difficult time to begin with,” Wilson said.
Lantz said he is pleased with the reaction of Cache Valley during these uncertain times. Though his business has cared for no one with symptoms, Lantz said the majority of his clients are those in vulnerable populations.
“We just have to deal with it and be careful,” Lantz said.