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How Do You Say Final Goodbyes During A Pandemic?


March 26, 2020

What happens when you lose a loved one during a pandemic?

Everybody can’t stay home and shelter in place. Someone has to say goodbye.

“Unprecedented are the times we live in today,” said J Cooper, owner of Cooper Funeral Home in Tecumseh. “Out of an abundance of caution, we have discontinued church and chapel services until April 6. We are continuing public visitation with limited hours and limited number of visitors. The graveside service will be considered a private family event. In many cases, we will offer live streaming on Facebook.”

Cooper’s sent out a press release Tuesday saying that according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there is “no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of confirmed or suspected COVID-19.”

However, it continues, recommended guidelines as to the size of gatherings apply, so a traditional funeral is not an option. Stringent cleaning guidelines are in place, of course.

“Overall, the families have great understanding and are cooperating with having a safe and clean environment,” Cooper said. “Several families have requested to have a memorial service later to include more family and friends.”

“Most families have chosen to do graveside services with a limited number of family members present in accordance with CDC and City of Shawnee guidelines,” said Doug Walker, owner of Walker Funeral Service in Shawnee. “We would accommodate a service here in our chapel under the same recommendations regarding the number of people and social distancing.”

Walker said they are scheduling conferences with limited numbers of the family and “doing as much as possible via technology such as phone, email and FaceTime. Churches, of course, may establish their own guidelines … Obviously, we attempt to accommodate each family’s wishes at a very personal and difficult time in their lives but must do so with consideration given to the public and our employees under the current circumstances.”

Both Cooper and Walker said families have been very cooperative and understanding. “It’s clear to me that the message has been communicated and received,” Walker said. “It’s obvious they’re concerned about others’ well being as well as their own and are willing to sacrifice some personal wishes to that end.

“I believe we have some difficult days ahead of us all,” Walker concluded. “My heart goes out to my many friends on the front lines and the entire overworked, undersupplied medical community and to those families that must deal with the loss of family and loved ones at this time.”


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