Funeral homes work to comfort families amidst pandemic service restrictions

With the rising number of coronavirus deaths, a North Charleston funeral home is seeing an...
With the rising number of coronavirus deaths, a North Charleston funeral home is seeing an increase in people seeking their services.(Live 5 News)
Updated: Jan. 26, 2021 at 2:45 PM EST
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - With the rising number of coronavirus deaths, a North Charleston funeral home is seeing an increase in people seeking their services.

That’s the case for funeral homes across the nation.

The owner of Dickerson Mortuary LLC says they’ve increased their staff. He says the coronavirus related safety restrictions and the modifications of traditional funeral services can be difficult for families, but they’re adjusting.

Dickerson says most services are outside to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Indoor services are restricted to a limited number of people.

“Telling families what you can and cannot do has been the most challenging thing,” Dickerson said. “Everybody is coming to grips now to understand how serious this pandemic really is.”

He says during the pandemic they began offering virtual services for people who can’t attend or travel. They also create virtual slideshows to share pictures. It’s something that families can look back on beyond the service day.

Dickerson says some families are experiencing multiple deaths back-to-back due to the pandemic. It can be difficult for families to have closure whether they experience a coronavirus related death or not.

“Sometimes someone gets Covid, they’re in the hospital and then in a couple of days they’re gone...” Dickerson said. “Sometimes it hits a family multiple times in a month, in a week sometimes, and they’re still grieving over the first loss.”

Dickerson says their main goal is to honor their families with dignity and compassion. He says he’s lost colleagues to coronavirus who work in his field in other locations.

Medical Director of Behavioral Health at Trident Medical Center Jeffrey Cluver says people not being able to follow the same ceremonial traditions for funerals impacts the ability for some to gain closure.

“Grieving is being around other people, processing through the loss, sharing stories,” Cluver said. “With so many things we do in our lives, ritual is very important. That ritualistic aspect of the ceremony of seeing that person leave us for the last time, and that whole process, not doing that I think it doesn’t allow for that same level of closure.”

Cluver says he couldn’t be with his family following his grandmother’s death on Christmas Eve in another state.

“My first instinctual thought was how am I going to get home,” Cluver said.

He says his family is planning to hold a celebration of her life where more people can attend at a later time.

“As much as I look forward to that celebration it still doesn’t feel real,” Cluver said.

Cluver says it’s important for people who are going through a loss to connect and communicate with others. That can include sharing your memories with your loved ones and connecting with them virtually or video chatting.

“It doesn’t make it just as good, but it’s better than just grieving alone or not even being able to grieve,” Cluver said. “You have to open that up and take the lid off of that to let it out, and sometimes it takes being around other people to do that.”

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