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How Are Funeral Homes Dealing With Coronavirus?

– The other day I waswatching a news report on funeral directors in New York City and the fact that it ishard and overwhelming to be a funeral director right now.

– The funeral industryis struggling to keep up with the rapidly increasingdeath toll caused by the coronavirus pandemic already.

– And all the comments were like, “Funeral directors are crooks.

” “I bet they're happyabout the coronavirus, “more money for them, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol.

” Look, do I want you to continue to interrogate the structural issues behind the funeral industrial complex and money being madeoff low income families? Yes, it is my greatest wish.

You could learn about it in quarantine like I learned how to play chess.

The horsey goes in an L.

But right now funeral directorsaren't having a great time and making a bunch of money.

They're burnt out and exhausted, not swimming in their coronavirus money like Scrooge McDuck.

Remember, funeral homes arestructured to make money from the add-ons.

The caskets, the embalmings, the wakes, the hearses, and they can't offer anyof those things right now.

All of a sudden, all they can offer aresimple direct cremations, and in the hardest hit cities, they can't even keep up with those.

Not even close.

Funeral homes all overNew York are starting to have to turn people away.

The women of InternationalFuneral & Cremation Service in Harlem are known fortheir lavish services, and now they're having to say, “Sorry, we can't help you at all.

” Funeral Director Lily Sage Weinrieb said pulling out all the stops for a funeral, “That's our thing.

“You want six limos andyou want them painted pink? “Yes.

“Now we're like, 'You want a cremation? “'I'm sorry, no.

“'You want a burial “'and you already havea plot and everything? “'Sorry, no, we don't have any room.

' “I feel like I'm failingfamilies everyday” The same thing is happeningin other hard hit cities.

Charita Butler, who ownsButler Funeral Home in Detroit has also started to turn people away.

She said, “Families arejust really in a frenzy.

“It's something I've neverseen before, quite honestly.

“I feel like everybodyhas PTSD at this point.

” Again, where is the government? I would like my tax money togo to get these people cremated and buried as quicklyand safely as possible, not to a Papa John'spizza bailout, come on.

A big source of stress forfuneral homes is the unknowns, especially around safety.

The first level of worry is are all these familymembers and people coming in for the viewing going to infect me? Because of that, many funeral homes just aren'toffering viewings, period.

And if they are, they're small viewings limitedto only 10 family members.

You're seeing funeralhomes livestream services.

Just embalmed bodies deckedout in an empty room, live streaming into the void.

Now, if that's you'reonly option as a family, I 100% get it.

You better believe that ifI couldn't be with my family who had died, I would be like, “You put that camera on my mom, “Just leave run, “leave it running.

” But it also has a bit of a dystopian vibe.

The livestream technology on top of the embalming technology, keeping us distant fromthe dead body the way that we're distant from everyone in all reality at this time.

Joe Newfield Sr.

, a funeraldirector in Queens, said, “That's it, I'm stopping the viewings.

“The danger is too much.

“I want to help these families, “but it's gotten too much.

” The second source of fear and stress is are these corpses going to infect me? Last week, we saw the first big headlines about a person dying aftercontracting coronavirus from a corpse.

Now, I'm not saying I amskeptical or this is untrue, it did come from an academic journal, not a news source likewackynews.

biz or something, but it does sound likeone of those stories, “Man Cremated Alive, ” “Woman Impregnated By Dead Body.

” But details of this case havebeen withheld from the public.

All that we know is thatit's a medical examiner from Bangkok, Thailand who died.

Officials said that thisperson had lots of contact, presumably autopsying peoplewho died from coronavirus, but didn't come into anycontact with living people with coronavirus.

How do they know that thisperson was never in contact with any living people with coronavirus? Isn't the thing that all of uscould be carrying coronavirus and spreading it out in theworld and we don't know? Again, I am not sayingthat this is not true.

From the very beginning, the CDC and the World HealthOrganization have said that bodies of the peoplewho die from coronavirus are probably safe, but high risk careers likeembalmers or medical examiners who are puncturing the body, dealing with all its fluids, are potentially at a muchhigher risk if they don't wear the correct personal protective equipment because we don't know yethow long the virus may live in the body after death.

And that's exactly the thing.

We don't know.

So funeral directors haveno idea how careful to be with the dead bodiescoming into their care, and I see why that's scary.

Of course, that fear can go too far and cause problems withthings we know are not true.

For example, recently, 20 people were arrested in Chennai, India.

They were arrested becausethey stopped the burial of a neurosurgeon who diedafter contracting the virus from a living patient.

His family was attackedwith sticks and rods and they had to come backlater to secretly bury the body without the family present.

The reason these peopleattacked this family is because they were worriedthat burying the body of a coronavirus victimwould spread the virus.

No, cremation and burial of a dead body does not spread coronavirus, no.

So what's happening at myfuneral home in Los Angeles? Again, we are not one ofthe hardest hit cities, but we've still had tomake significant changes just like everyone has.

Our thing is havingfamilies come in and view and spend time with thebody before cremation.

And we've had to stop doing that because crematories inL.

A, to my knowledge, are all shut down.

They're still cremating, of course, but funeral directors andfamilies are not allowed to do any of the thingsthey might normally do, including come inside the building.

This is very difficult becauseI don't like to say no, I know my funeral directordoesn't like to say no.

It's the opposite of what we stand for.

The reason I opened myfuneral home was to be able to tell families, “Yes, you're in charge.

“That's your body, whatever you wanna do.

” But no one gets to do whatthey want to do anymore.

Welcome to coronavirus.

One bright spot is that yesterday we wereable to have a gorgeous, appropriately socially distanced, natural burial in Joshua Tree.

Out in the desert itcan feel almost normal, and I know my funeraldirector was very excited to be able to say, “Yes, ” after weeks of some very painful no's.

So how will all of this changefuneral homes and funerals in the longterm? I haven't had a lot oftime to think about it yet.

Just kidding, it's all that I think about.

Will I say more on this later? Maybe, will I ever leavethe State of Texas? Maybe, how are you all doing? My book writing is going great.

They ask you how you are, you just have to say that you're fine and you're not really fine.

You just can't get into it because they would never understand.

– Funeral directors, I reallyhope you are doing well, taking time for yourselves, journaling, self care, I don't know.

Stuff like that.

The National Funeral DirectorsAssociation put this out about funeral directors being heroes.

My colleague pointedout those are vampires.

It's not that kind of pandemic.

This video was madewith generous donations from death enthusiasts just like you.

(mellow music) Welcome to coronavirus.

More money for them, lol, lol, lol, lol, lol.

Put that camera on my mom.

Just leave it run, leave it running.

Just kidding, it's all that I think about.

It's all I think about.

Ooh.

You're in charge, that's your body.

Whatever you wanna do, no.

Yes, no.

Maybe.

It's not that kind of pandemic.

The horsey goes in an L.

.

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