Open Casket View

To View or Not to View, that is the Question

Open Casket ViewCOVID-19 impacts nearly everything in the world, including the funeral industry. Since March 2020, we have produced blogs about several such changes. Click here to read those posts. This week, we want to focus on the way that the Coronavirus affects a family’s decision about whether they should view the body of a loved one who died.

Wake vs. View 

After someone dies, people typically look for ways to show their respect to the family of the deceased. One way is to attend the funeral. Another is to show up for a “wake” or “viewing.” Pre-COVID-19, close family members often attended both the viewing as well as the memorial service.

Memorial Service CandleHowever, in LA County, where Foothill Funeral & Cremation Services is located, state guidelines limit the number of people who can gather for virtually anything. So, in many cases, the family may not invite you to attend both the wake as well as the funeral. In fact, due to the virus, many families are opting out of viewing altogether and plan small funeral services, open only to the immediate family.

LA County Restrictions

As of November 3, 2020, the LA County Department of Public Health: 

Public RestroomRestrooms

  • Recommends funeral directors conduct all services outdoors.
  • Requires access to outdoor restroom facilities or clear directions for attendees to enter and exit a facility in order to use the bathroom.
  • Restrooms must be regularly sanitized.
  • Restroom facilities are marked in order to promote physical distancing immediately outside walled toilets.
  • A mask-wearing monitor is placed outside the restroom to monitor the flow of restroom traffic.

Entire ServiceSocial Distancing Funerals

  • Physical distancing measures must be followed throughout the entire service.
  • Funeral directors and staff direct attendees to stand at least six feet away from family members outside of their immediate household.
  • Parents or guardians of children present must ensure the safety of those in their charge, by either placing them in a stroller, standing or seating them next to a responsible adult, and advising them not to touch anything or anyone who is outside of their immediate household.

Staff Funeral Staff Actions

  • Funeral staff must insist people refrain from attending either a service if they have been in contact with anyone who has COVID-19 or have displayed any associated symptoms.
  • Staff must screen each attendee relative to temperature and absence of respiratory symptoms.
  • Staff should discourage people with co-morbidities from attending any type of service (funeral or otherwise).
  • Every participant over the age of two must wear a protective face covering which covers the mouth and nose.
  • Funeral staff must provide tissues and alcohol-based sanitizer for use by staff, families and other attendees.

View Catholic WakeWakes

The Catholic equivalent of a viewing, wakes and viewings are more informal than funeral services. With a wake, a priest may run a short program. Viewings do not typically include a program. Attendees spend time with the preserved remains of the person who died prior to the formal service.

  • At a wake, the funeral home displays the deceased’s preserved body. Every attendee is advised NOT to touch or kiss or otherwise engage with the body of someone who has died with COVID-19, whether Coronavirus caused the death or not.
  • Outdoor settings are the only type currently allowed in Los Angeles County.
  • Funeral staff should limit the use of shared objects such as equipment, supplies and programs. Staff must disinfect items used by multiple people between each use.

Bottom LineView COVID-19 Funeral

The decision about whether to have a wake or viewing depends on several factors. In these troubled times, part of the choice relates to risks associated with COVID-19. Unfortunately, however, people die even during a pandemic. So, if you wish to have a formal wake or a viewing of your loved one who has passed, we would be happy to help make that a reality. Call today to ask about our policies.

About Foothill Funeral & Cremation in Glendora, California

Pandemic Funeral If you know someone who has died, whether or not as a result of the Coronavirus, we would count it an honor to help you during this difficult time. Feel free to contact us now to pre-plan your own memorial or at your time of need (626) 335-0615. Our relationship with the United Methodist Church and Sacred Heart (which currently allows a maximum of 65 people) provides great places for mourners to host funerals and memorials. You’ll love the grandiose yet intimate settings in both locations.

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