COVID-19 Precautions Change the Way We Say Goodbye to Deceased Loved Ones

JEFFERSON CO., Pa., (EYT) – Precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have changed the way we do many things once considered routine; this includes the way we say goodbye to loved ones who pass away during this period.

(Photo: McKinney – d’Argy Funeral Home located in Brookville, Pa.)

Instead of announcing visitation times, obituaries now say that public memorial services for family and friends will take place at a later date.

Snyder-d’Argy Funeral Homes in Brookville and Reynoldsville are recording and broadcasting funeral services.

“This decision is hard,” said owner Jacob d’Argy. “But the reason we are making this decision is so that the people who are most vulnerable in our community don’t have to decide if they are going to come out and put themselves at risk.”

Behaviors during funerals can be risky. Many people hug each other during services, and crying also leads to runny noses causing possible exposure to COVID-19.

According to d’Argy, he and his staff have been using the video broadcasting technology for years at the Brookville location to be able to provide the opportunity for those who were unable to attend services to participate.

He said they never realized that someday, this service would be a necessity so that people can still come together to bring comfort in times of need.

“This allows everyone the opportunity, with graciousness and dignity, to be able to sign our guestbook online to let the family know that they are thinking about them and to be able to view the service online,” d’Argy said. He added that many families are already planning to host gatherings at a later date to memorialize their loved ones.

“You can’t put off death, but you can put off funerals,” said Rick Goble, Funeral Director at Goble Funeral Home in Clarion.

Many funeral homes offer the opportunity to live stream the service online if the family requests it. In most cases, mourners can also leave messages for the family on the funeral home’s website.

“Not only can you leave online condolences, but you can share pictures,” Goble said. “What we’re finding is that we’re going to be using our webpage a lot more than we used to.”

Goble said he is following the governor’s guidelines and limiting funerals to a maximum of ten immediate family members.

In some cases, families are making arrangements for funerals remotely rather than meeting with funeral home staff in person.

Goble plans to offer memorial DVDs and a memorial service and visitation in the future. They’re also in the process of adding more video screens to the funeral home, so those services can include pictures and videos since there will be no body present.

“We’re going to try to adapt and still have closure for the families, that’s what the funeral is for,” said Goble.

The state has asked funeral homes to delay making pre-need arrangements for funerals and only make arrangements when there is an imminent need.

All death certificates are currently being done online. With state offices closed, the family members of veterans, who are usually provided free death certificates, are not able to get those.

Goble said his staff is also receiving training to keep themselves safe during the pandemic.

He says before entering an assisted living facility to remove the body of a deceased person, he is now required to answer several questions concerning possible exposure to COVID-19, wear a mask, and have his temperature taken.

The state has provided video training for the embalming process during the pandemic as well.

“We can go online to see the training video, so that’s what we’ve been doing,” Goble said.

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