Funeral homes adjust to new world
March 26, 2020 | View PDF
Funeral homes in Shafter have seen a change in services offered due to the current COVID-19 situation and the precautions recommended.
Basham & Lara Funeral Care still is serving the community while modifying some of their practices to align with the recent policies recommended by the Public Health Department and the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Kevin Lara, one of the partners of the facility, said the virus has not affected their business financially, just the services they offer.
"Due to the recommendations, we are allowing only 10 people at a time in our chapel. There can be 20 people in total in the building, with 10 in the chapel and 10 in the reception area." Lara said family members can go back and forth between the two places, as long as there is not over 10 people in one location.
Each cemetery has different policies at the moment, with a few limiting mourners to family members. Lara said most cemeteries they deal with are permitting a total of 50 people at a service. "They are allowing 10 family members at the graveside and 40 more people at the service. The other 40 people must practice social distancing and are asked to keep a distance of 40 to 50 feet away from the graveside."
Families have been understanding about the changes, Lara said, "Yes, they have been very understanding. I have had a problem with having to tell the families about the limits."
He said that recently it broke his heart when he told a family who had lost their young son that they would have to adhere to the limitations. "I understand the need for the policies but it is still hard to tell families."
The policies of Peters Funeral Home, which facilities in Shafter and Wasco, differs in that they are allowing more people in their chapel. "We are allowing 20 people in the chapel, practicing social distancing. We are limiting the mourners to two people a pew," said Rick Woody, the owner.
Both businesses said there has been a change when it comes to their Catholic services after the Archdiocese of Fresno cancelled all masses in the area. "All of the catholic services are graveside only," said Woody.
Woody did say they are offering a couple special incentives to combat the limitations in place right now. They will hold viewings at family residences upon request. "If they want to hold the viewing at their home, we will bring the casket to the house so they can hold a viewing with no limits."
Woody said they also are giving families who opt for a straight graveside service the option of holding a memorial service for their loved one in their chapel free of charge – and restrictions -- once the virus situation is resolved. "They will be able to hold a memorial service with no charge. It would just be with no casket."