Four Things to Know About Funerals and Costs During the Coronavirus Crisis

April 27, 2020

Planning a funeral and its related services come with its own set of challenges. From arrangements to dealing with visitation to taking care of the burial, a lot has to be done. But with the outbreak of COVID-19 throughout the United States, families and cemeteries are all having to rethink the way hold funerals and lay someone to rest.

While funeral homes have taken on new guidelines from healthcare professionals and health officials to keep themselves and grieving families safe during the pandemic, everyone should be aware of a number of changes that have been implemented.

COVID-19 and Funerals

COVID-19 has certainly affected the way people make their funeral decisions as far as what they’re going to do and how memorialization will look. To help families honor their loved one(s) and to keep from adding to the spread of the virus, cemeteries should stay up to date on valuable tips and changes.

Here are four things to know about funerals in the COVID-19 age.

Health Considerations

In recently released guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it states that a funeral or visitation service can be held for a person who has succumbed to the virus as usual. However, people should consider not touching the body, and affectionate activities among visitors, such as hugs, handshakes, and kisses, should be avoided. It’s also suggested that anyone who may feel sick or showing signs of COVID-19 stay home.

Considering Delaying Services

Some families are opting to hold burials or cremation with only immediate family members, then planning a memorial service for more people after the virus has run its course. Special commemorative dates, such as anniversaries and birthdays, have been the main alternative choices for those burying a loved one. Embalmed bodies can be held in climate-controlled rooms until a traditional burial can be held, allowing burials to be held at a later date so more people can attend.

Costs of Funerals During COVID-19

One thing that families are rightfully concerned about during these times is price gouging or being taken advantage of by funeral homes and cemeteries. However, according to the Funeral Rule from the Federal Trade Commission, consumers are encouraged not to be coerced into buying a funeral package they don’t want.

Consumers also have the right to obtain pricing information on goods related to funerals and services over the telephone instead of having to come down to a location and be sold to. If a family feels like it’s being taken advantage of or suspects that a cemetery is trying to spike up the cost of a burial plot, they may be inclined to bring claims against them. While cemeteries can invest in cemetery insurance to keep the right resources available during legal matters, being sure to be fair should be a priority.

Crowd Considerations

In addition to CDC health guidelines, states across the U.S. have issued their own notes on crowd sizes. In New York state, for instance, where total cases and deaths alone rank higher than most countries around the world, the department of health has recommended that gatherings be limited to no more than half of the maximum capacity of a funeral home, or to 50 individuals.

From the White House, President Trump’s COVID-19 health task force has suggested that people should avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people through the end of April.

To help families experience a service without attending it in person, funeral homes are webcasting services for those who are worried about being exposed to the virus.

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