The world has changed and funeral homes’ standard operating procedures have changed dramatically. The old way of doing business has disappeared in the blink of an eye and likely never to return. COVID-19 and the challenges it has presented has the entire industry reeling as well as families who have lost a loved one. This is not the first time the funeral business has had to face change but, arguably, this is the first time the change has been so rapid and drastic.
Social distancing has become the new standard and large numbers of people attending funerals is not happening. Funeral homes will be, sooner than later, requesting RSVP and to schedule a visitation to ensure there aren’t too many people gathering. Seating charts and organized dismissal is becoming a new wrinkle. Funeral Directors are being asked to do more as far as organizing who is coming and going and specifically limiting attendance to only immediate family. The added task of making available hand sanitizers, masks, and gloves for staff as well as attendees is now the new standard.
The pandemic of 2020 has been fraught with hurdles but technology has aided funeral homes to adapt and overcome. It will be incumbent to have the most advanced software and hardware to be able to compete and stay relevant in this new era. It will not be long before virtual showrooms for funeral planning will be available to the public. Family members of the deceased will no longer have to go to a funeral home to pick out a casket or plan the service for the dearly departed. It is realistic that attending a funeral may become a thing of the past. Once the family member passes, representatives show up to pick up the remains and that is the last anyone sees of them. The entire service is conducted on-line in a virtual service. All of the arrangements and payments are made via e-signature and e-payment.
There has been a growing trend of people choosing cremation and that trend is expected to rise due to cost and the limited ability for family and friends to gather as a group to mourn. This will lead to cheaper and shorter services. There could be a time that all meetings are accomplished on-line and funeral directors never meet anyone in-person and the cremated remains are mailed to the family.
The recent events have put in perspective just how fragile life can be. A larger percentage of the population, especially older couples, will see the importance in pre-planning their funeral arrangements. Planning their funeral now locks in the cost and takes the burden from their loved ones to make tough decisions while grieving. It has been shown that making known their final wishes results in fewer family conflicts after a death.
Another aspect not fully understood yet is how these changes will affect grieving and healing. Part of the process is to mourn a loss with family and friends. Without that important aspect there could be a rise in detrimental behaviors due to the inability to express grief. Social distancing has made grief much harder on people. After-care specialists such as therapists and other professionals will become a larger part of what traditional funeral homes will provide. An on-line support system will be created to aid grieving families to better cope with the loss.
The end-of-life traditions are being affected by the pandemic and it is hard to predict exactly where the future of funeral services will lead but it will be different. If you have any questions about the new practices being implemented please feel free to contact Ratterman Brothers Funeral Homes in Louisville, KY by visiting their website or call 502-893-3644.