Since mid-March, people have faced tough decisions about Coronavirus as it relates to the death and life celebrations of loved ones. In many cases, with strict social distancing guidelines in place, the state forbids mourners from hosting gatherings of more than 10 people. In LA County, where Foothill Funeral & Cremation is located, California Governor Gavin Newsom and only recently lifted strict “stay at home” orders. These guidelines have profoundly impacted the ways our families can say goodbye. With certain restrictions lifting but COVID-19 unlikely to disappear from the horizon anytime soon, we offer these suggestions:
Funeral Options During a Pandemic
We support your right and desire to mourn and honor your deceased loved one in a safe yet meaningful way. Here are the guidelines as noted by the LA County Department of Health (along with notes about how those guidelines have since been adjusted):
If, even as restrictions life, you are unable to (or feel unsure about) the safety of hosting a large event, consider limiting attendance to immediate family. Initially, LA County ruled the following: “Services may only take place at the funeral home or location of burial or cremation.” Since that guideline has lightened, you will only be limited by the number of people allowed at the facility where you hold services. That said, you will be required to observe social distancing guidelines, including wearing a cloth facial covering and staying six feet away from everyone else in attendance, other than your own immediate family members (who live in the same household).
Number of People Allowed to Attend Funeral or Memorial
Before restrictions were lifted, “Attendance must be limited to: members of one household of up to ten (10) people (members who live together at the same physical address); one person who may view the decedent to confirm the identity as required by the mortuary, funeral home, or embalming service; essential funeral service staff; and, if desired, one faith leader.” Thankfully, now, you are allowed to invite the number allowed by the church or other facility where you are holding the service. In other words, if you host at a church that allows 65 people for services, you could invite that same number to a life celebration, funeral or memorial held in that facility.
Social Distancing Guidelines
“Social (physical) distancing rules must be followed. That means at least six feet between household members in attendance and the funeral staff and faith leader.” (These regulations remain in place.)
LA County encourages people to consider livestreaming services to minimize the risk of community spread. The service may be livestreamed to permit virtual participation of others. It may also be taped for later viewing. In either case, the recording must be carried out by a family member or funeral staff person (rather than an additional videographer, etc.) In our experience, most families prefer to wait instead of exercising this option. As always, we encourage you to do whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
Sick People Should Stay Home
People who feel sick or are at-risk for serious disease from COVID-19* should stay home. *Symptoms of COVID-19 may include some combination of the following: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. This list of symptoms is not all inclusive.
Funeral Home Provisions
The funeral home must provide tissues and alcohol-based hand sanitizer for use by families and staff. Restrooms must be stocked with an adequate supply of soap and paper towels. Waste bins should be readily available for the disposal of tissues and paper towels. In order to limit the need for people to touch the doorknob, staff must keep the front door open (weather permitting) or ensure that someone is always available to open the door as permitted participants arrive. Limit the use of objects, equipment, and supplies that may be difficult to disinfect or make it hard to ensure social (physical) distancing (e.g. tent walls). (Not a problem at Foothill Funeral & Cremation!)
Interaction with a Dead Body
People should not touch or kiss the body of someone who has died of COVID-19. If touching occurs, the person should wash their hands or use hand sanitizer prior to touching their face and anything or anyone else.
In many cases, families opt to hold off on memorials and life celebrations wherein regulations would significantly compromise their ability to host as many mourners as they desire. We can keep your loved one’s remains until such a time that you are ready to proceed with services.
About Foothill Funeral & Cremation in Glendora, California
Whether or not your loved one died of COVID-19, we realize that the pandemic may affect your ability to sufficiently celebrate a life well lived. At Foothill, we will do our best to make sure you can mourn the loss of your loved one in a safe manner. Feel free to contact us now to pre-plan your own memorial or at your time of need (626) 335-0615. Our relationship with United Methodist Church and Sacred Heart (which currently allows a maximum of 65 people) provide great places for mourners to host funerals and memorials. You’ll love the grandiose yet intimate settings in both locations.