Funeral Homes adapt to COVID-19 pandemic

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 Chelsea, like Carafa, Smith, Torf, and Anthony Memorial-Welsh Funeral Homes have had to become more creative.
“Doing the best we can naturally we have to take the precautions by minimizing the amount of people inside the funeral home with graveside services for the family,” said Bill Carafa.”But we are certainly honoring wishes of families that would like to hold a Celebration of Life Mass at a later date.”
In an online statement posted on their website Smith Funeral Home said in keeping with the Governor Baker’s directive in response to COVID-19 all funeral services must be limited to immediate family members only.
“It has always been our goal to strive to make every funeral to be a meaningful and dignified experience for both our families and their loved ones,” said the statement. “As we are encountering these very troubling times in the world with COVID-19 we must follow specific orders from Governor Charles Baker, the Center for Disease Control as well as the Archdiocese of Boston and other Religious Denomination guides for Funeral Services. Please know that we are following this situation as it unfolds. It is our intention to assist our families with respect, dignity and honor while conducting our services. This is not an easy time, but we must be vigilant and unified while supporting one another. We strongly encourage you to share your condolences online by signing our online guestbooks.”
Over at Torf, which caters to the area’s Jewish population, said they are doing the same as other funeral homes in the area but have added a virtual Shiva to honor loved ones that have passed. Guests can click on the virtual Shiva link on an obituary posted on Torf’s website and be part of the memorial services from home.
At Anthony Memorial-Welsh Funeral Home the staff there is following the COVID-19 guidelines and all services will be private and for immediate family only. The funeral home encourages those who can not attend a service due to the COVID-19 restrictions to leave condolences on the Anthony Memorial-Welsh Funeral Home website.
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.

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