In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, funeral directors are continuing to do what they do best; demonstrate compassion and care to the families they serve and find innovative ways to continue to reach their communities. They put themselves at risk every day to fulfill their calling and often go unrecognized.
Funeral directors who are members of the Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) are an especially resourceful group. They look at challenges as opportunities to shift business practices to accommodate changing regulations. They find ways to care for families while maintaining safety protocols. They reach out to one another in support and camaraderie.
OGR has started hosting weekly virtual round tables to allow members to gather and share ideas. Here are the suggestions from last week’s discussion.
1. Participate in your county and/or city’s Emergency Management Department’s Briefings if you’re not already.
Mike Butler of Livingston-Butler-Volland Funeral Home in Hastings, NE
2. Set Google alerts for your “county’s health department” and “COVID-19 and your city”. Follow your county’s health department and Chamber of Commerce on social media to get coronavirus updates quickly.
Andrew Loos of Heartland Cremation & Burial Society in Kansas City, MO
3. Meet by phone or email with local governmental officials to find out how to get personal protective equipment (PPE) as it becomes available.
Rebecca Lautenslager, of Shaughnessey-Banks Funeral Home in Fairfield, CT
Visitations, Funeral Services and Burials & Covid-19 Compliance
4. Offer curbside delivery of the return of cremated remains and death certificates. When a family arrives in the parking lot, have them call the funeral home and a staff member can bring out what they need.
5. To comply with social distancing guidelines during a visitation have the immediate family schedule visitors with 15-minute timed admission slots, like a museum. Ensure the number of visitors complies with local and state regulations. Staff should check the list against who is arriving at the funeral home and regulate the flow of people into the building. Ask those who are waiting to remain in their cars.
JD Slack, of Slack Funeral Home in Ellicott City, MD
6. Be willing to turn down a funeral if the family is unwilling to comply with safety guidelines regarding the visitation and funeral service. The safety of your staff and community are at risk if you don’t.
7. Begin to consider what you will offer when you have a Covid-19 death and the immediate family is put into quarantine and cannot attend a service. Will you delay the service until after they’ve been released? Will you offer to live stream the service so they can participate remotely? What other options will be available to you?
8. When communicating with families, focus on what you can offer them instead of what you can’t. (e.g. Instead of saying, “your 11 brothers and sisters can’t attend the arrangement conference”, say “we can host the arrangement conference over Zoom so all of you can participate.”)
Join OGR tomorrow (March 31) for a virtual round table with Dan Isard of the Foresight Company as we discuss how to help your business survive COVID-19. This event is open to all funeral directors. Learn more and register at www.ogr.org/covid19#Roundtable.
By Nancy Weil
OGR Member Resources Director