How are funeral homes and cemeteries are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic?

4 April 2020

Butler County Funeral Homes adjust to COVID-19

BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio – Amid all of the chaos and uncertainty surrounding the global COVID-19 outbreak, funeral homes and cemeteries across the world remain open, as care for the dead has been deemed an essential service. While mortuary services continue, funeral directors  have had to make significant changes to their operations in order to adapt to the threat of infection.

Webster Funeral Home. Fairfield Ohio. Photo credit E.T. Fowle

Bob Webster, owner of Webster Funeral Home in Fairfield, said that while his practices have changed, he remains committed to providing quality funerals through this crisis. Even though funerals in the past few weeks have been sparsely attended (state officials have recommended avoiding gatherings of more than ten people), Webster explained that many families have made plans to hold larger memorial gatherings after the pandemic is over.

“Private services continue to take place at the family’s convenience, and memorial services will take place at a later date,” Webster said. “Some families have taken different routes, but this is how it’s been lately, and I think it’s going to continue. I feel bad for the families that can’t have a proper farewell.”

In terms of precautions being taken by employees of the funeral home, Webster said that he is using universal safeguards. Webster explained that employees that come in contact with the deceased are wearing tyvek suits, regardless of whether or not the deceased person had tested positive for COVID-19.

In a statement on its website, Webster Funeral Home reminded the public that they will continue to serve through this crisis.

“We are still operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week making certain that those entrusted to our care and the families we serve are receiving uninterrupted service and attention, regardless of the cause of death.  Serving our communities with loss is our privilege and honor.”

Bob Webster graduated from Miami University and the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, and has been a licensed embalmer and funeral director since 1977. Webster is the author of Does This Mean You’ll See Me Naked?, a book about his experiences in the funeral home business.

Butler County Cemeteries adjust to COVID-19

Woodside Cemetery and Arboretum, Middletown Ohio. Photo credit E.T. Fowler
Woodside Cemetery and Arboretum, Middletown Ohio. Photo credit E.T. Fowler

Woodside Cemetery and Arboretum located in Middletown Ohio created a protocol to protect their employees and the public. Cemeteries are deemed essential, therefore their employees continue to work.

The grounds are open to the public, Dan Diver, General Manager, replied, “The daffodils are near full bloom along with many other flowering trees and shrubs. We have seen an increase in walkers and drivers enjoying the grounds.” 

All appointments with the public are arranged in advance. The offices are closed to the public, but if there is a need to select grave space, the meetings are conducted outdoors. All paperwork is transferred digitally. The non profit board, which oversees the operations, conducted their meeting online.

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