38 LONGISLANDPRESS.COM • MAY 2020
FUNERALS UNDERGO CHANGES AMID PANDEMIC
Since the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention recommends limiting
gatherings to no more than 10 people
to prevent the spreading of the disease,
funeral homes, houses of worship, and
cemeteries are widely limiting attendance
for services to immediate family
What’s more, those who do attend are
being urged to avoid hugs, kisses, and
handshakes that are customary between
grieving family members during emotionally
wrought services. Attendees
must also remain six feet apart from
one another. And in the event of an open
casket funeral, touching the body is
“There is currently no known risk associated
with being in the same room at
a funeral or visitation service with the
body of someone who died of COVID-19,”
the CDC advises.
If coronavirus was the cause of death,
anyone who was in close contact with the
deceased prior to their passing should
not attend the funeral to avoid possibly
infecting others, according to both the
CDC and the state Department of Health.
The limitations on large gatherings have
prompted some funeral directors to
have video and live streams of services
so those unable to attend in person can
at least participate online or view the
“This allows families to pay tribute to
their loved one with the opportunity for
others to watch remotely from the comfort
of home,” Moloney Funeral Homes
writes on their website.
The approach may be unconventional
compared to how people typically say
goodbye to loved ones, but serves the
ultimate goal of helping people grieve.
Plus, there’s no rule against hugging
immediate family members who you’ve
been quarantined with in your own
home — especially after watching a
It’s hard enough to plan and execute a
beloved family member’s memorial service
while stricken with grief, let alone a
funeral with added restrictions due to a
pandemic, but the process is even more
difficult now due to increased demand.
“It's become very difficult to have to say
no to people, to have people calling and
begging for help,” Patrick J. Kearns, a
funeral director and president of Leo
F. Kearns Funeral Homes, which has
locations in East Meadow and Queens,
told U.S. News & World Report.
That leaves families having to shop
around. The backlog prompted Gov.
Andrew Cuomo to issue an executive
order authorizing out-of-state funeral
directors to help transport the deceased
from hospitals to funeral homes and
interment sites, as there aren’t enough
licensed in New York State to keep up.
Hundreds have arrived to assist.
Rules also vary at each funeral home
and cemetery. For example, Calverton
National Cemetery — the nation’s largest
national cemetery — has temporarily
suspended cremation funerals, gatherings
of any size, and set a limit to only two
floral arrangements per funeral.
While these restrictions undoubtedly
make the grieving process more difficult,
they are only temporary, and
there are sure to be abundant vigils
to help give people closure after the
“We must continue to practice social distancing
and limit large public gatherings, including at
funeral services,” said Letitia James.
COPING WITH DEATH
continued from page 37
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