While Gov. Charlie Baker listed businesses performing funeral and memorial services as ‘essential’ businesses that can remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic and statewide shutdown of other non-essential businesses, local Funeral Homes have had to adapt accordingly.
With churches closed for Mass, cemeteries and crematoriums drastically changed how loved ones are laid to rest and health officials urging social distancing Funeral Homes in Jamaica Plain, like Brady & Fallon Funeral Home and Man & Rogers Funeral Home have had to become more creative.
“We are just like every other Funeral Home in the aerea,” said Brady & Fallon Funeral Director Michael West. “All services are private for now and we are certainly limiting services to less than ten people.”
While it’s hard to not be able to provide the type of full-services families expect, West said all his clients have been very understanding.
“The families have been very good and very understanding in our experience,” said West. “There has been no resistance and even before they even come in to make arrangements they know what sort of limitations there’s going to be.”
At his funeral home West said he encourages family and friends to visit the funeral home’s website and pay tribute to the deceased by signing the online guest book and tribute page.
It’s pretty much the same story over at Man & Rogers Funeral Home on Perkins Street where everything has been limited to private services.
“It’s not easy but here to help,” said Funeral Director and owner Jerry Rogers. “We’ve been pretty busy and going by all the state and CDC. We had a funeral this week where we just met the family at the cemetery. A few people said some words and that was it. While we are frustrated that we can’t provide our usual full services we are doing the best we can under the circumstances and the families understand that we must protect them and ourselves.”
Rogers said he is updating the funeral home’s website to reflect the new guidelines and keep families informed.
Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley made the painful decision recently to suspend Funeral Masses and other services within the church.
“We recommend that the bereaved be offered the opportunity for a graveside committal service during this time and a Memorial Mass when we are able to again offer the celebration of Mass and religious services at our parishes and churches,” he said. “Thank you for your understanding of the ongoing unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 public health crisis and the importance of doing all that is possible in support of the health and well being of the people we serve and the wider community.”
Cemeteries have even suspended some usual services that are part of a funeral.
Over at Woodlawn Cemetery, in order to protect its staff from being exposed to the COVID-19, immediately implemented new procedures.
The following was implemented and will last until at least April;
• No Chapel Services will take place.
• Mausoleum Services will take place on the patio outside Versailles Mausoleum. After committal services, families will disburse. They will not be allowed to view the entombment.
• Columbarium Services will take place outside in the garden area. Families will disburse after the committal service and will not be allowed to witness the inurnment.
• Graveside services will take place as normal, but families cannot witness the lowering of the casket. They must disburse after the committal service is finished.
• No cremation witnessing will take place.