Funeral director balances service with caution
Mike Liewer hasn’t had to conduct any funerals due to a COVID-19 death, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had to deal with the pandemic.
In fact, he said, he’s still had to deal with an “extemely difficult” effect: Explaining to families the limitations on what they, and he, can do for a funeral.
“In dealing with the families, and letting them know how limited our services are, that’s the most difficult part.,” he said. “You always have the physical part, the embalming, the restorative disinfecting. But the part of what we provide that the public is aware of is the contact, the planning, the arranging. Customarily, we do everything we possibly can to help that family grieve through the funeral process. Sometimes that’s a short process, sometimes that’s a long process, but it is usually to the family’s wishes. It’s catered to their needs, their wants.”
In practice, that means for any part of the funeral conducted indoors, only 10 people can attend under Centers for Disease Control guidelines. That means Liewer has to station himself at the door to limit entry, and “obviously, I’ve got my mask on. We try to monitor the only 10-at-a-time [guideline] and we do use a lot of hand sanitizer, too.”
For graveside services, because they’re outside Liewer will allow more people, but would make sure they are at least 6 feet apart, he said. “I feel more comfortable outside than I do in an enclosed environment. As long as you keep your personal spacing, we’ll be OK.”
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