By: Dave Villareale
The Coronavirus pandemic has changed the way that families grieve. Funeral directors are trying to find new ways for families to grieve and give them closure while at the same time balance safety concerns.
Bartolomeo & Perotto Funeral Home in Greece is finding new ways to allow funeral services for the community. Following CDC guidelines and regulating people admitted into their funeral home has become a challenge.
Photo by Legacy.com
As of July 25,2020, the CDC has stated that funerals should be held in low numbers. Family members that are from the same area and properly social distance themselves should be sufficient. Large gatherings such as funerals in the past are not advised as people from potential hotspot states could infect guests with COVID-19.
Starting in March, only private services could be held at Bartolomeo & Perotto Funeral Home. There have been changes as of June, and the CDC has increased the percentage of occupancy for churches and funeral homes to 33%.
“It has been challenging as we can hold four services at once under normal circumstances. In practice some people still are not comfortable with public services,” says Dave Perotto, Funeral Director of Bartolomeo & Perotto.
The current limit for family attendance is 85, which does not limit family, but it does limit the number of family friends that attend. Recently the Bartolomeo branch has been using an app called Plan Hero, which lets family members from other states attend virtually.
Perotto says that the funeral home is still behind on a lot of two part funeral services.
“We are still doing two-part funerals which are private and public, families choose to wait for public services in which we’ve held many back in July and should be caught up by December,” Perotto said.
Ever since the pandemic started, funeral homes have prohibited family members from other states from attending a service. With states such as New York creating a mandatory 14-day quarantine, people cannot say their final words in person.
“My grandma’s funeral was more like a viewing and a burial as opposed to a service. There was no eulogy in the funeral home or the church, and the service only lasted 20 minutes by the graveside,” says Beverly Cejas of Brockport.
For the Bartolomeo branch, the pandemic has changed how the staff cleans up before and after as well. The branch has adopted the White Glove Service. The team opens the door for the families and sanitizes every inch of the building to ensure everyone is safe.
The New York department of health has highly regulated funeral services. Perotto added that the department of health has been restrictive of Bartolomeo’s operations and only allows a total of 170 people in their building.
Kevin Godici who lost his grandfather this summer, hasn’t been able to peacefully lay his grandfather to rest.
“My grandfather passed over the summer, and we never were able to have a service for him. With travel restrictions, my family wasn’t able to come into town due to the new CDC guidelines that prohibited out of state travel. We still have not had a funeral because he had many friends, and we want to have one in the future when it is safe,” says Godici of Hilton
If and when funerals are safe again families will be able to join together and grieve as one.
As funeral directors try to help families find new ways to mourn during this pandemic, Families such as the Godici’s might have a chance to say their goodbyes.