Before COVID-19 this chapel at First Memorial Funeral Service could hold around 150 people, now it fits 20. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Before COVID-19 this chapel at First Memorial Funeral Service could hold around 150 people, now it fits 20. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Mourner limits at funerals can be hard on families

Hundreds sometimes gathered at Rocky Funeral Home when a well-known person died.

Now, only 10 are allowed to gather to pay their last respects because of pandemic-related health restrictions. After pallbearers only a handful of loved ones can say their final goodbyes.

That can be especially hard in rural areas where it was common for neighbours from miles around to come to show their support for the family of the deceased, said Laurie Wade, business manager at Rocky Funeral Home. Huge turnouts are also common when a younger person dies.

With the new restrictions, who to invite to the funeral has become another hard decision at a time that is already so difficult.

“Especially with the large families out this way, who do you cut off?” said Wade. “It’s awful.

“I think it really does hurt, especially for those people whose loved ones were really community-minded or out and about in the community or had lots of friends.”

Some felt they were snubbing their friends by not inviting them.

“Now I think it’s getting easier as time goes on because they realize it’s not safe for anybody to be out and about.”

As sad as it is, Wade understands why mourners numbers have to be limited while coronavirus is infecting more and more Albertans.

“I fully understand why (the limit on mourners) has to happen because there are way too many emotions and way too much crying and touching your face and touching and feeling.”

How can you tell people at a funeral not to hug and console each other, she asks.

READ MORE

Central zone health care workers excluded from first round of COVID-19 vaccine

AHS to limit patients in outpatient lab at Red Deer hospital

Wade said she suggests to some that a larger funeral ceremony could take place later when the health risk has been reduced — but she doubts that many will happen.

To help others participate, the funeral home has used technologies, such as Zoom, to allow mourners to watch from home. The spotty broadband performance in the area has made that challenging and she has recently upgraded her internet service to improve performance.

The funeral home also offers to record the service and the video is put on a USB stick for the family to take home and share.

While that allows some consolation it cannot replace the outpouring of support and love a traditional funeral provided.

“When you’re not here with the family it’s still not the same.”

Parkland Funeral Home and Crematorium owner Gordon Mathers has also embraced technology to help those during such a difficult time.

“Absolutely, our families need to be able to grieve,” he says.

Parkland continues to offer funerals and life celebrations while observing the only 10 attendees regulations.

Services can also be live-streamed.

“This option also provides a lasting legacy to their loved one as we record the service and then permanently post it on our website.”

The live-streaming option allows others to watch from anywhere they have an internet connection.

Mathers said it is very important that families have the opportunity to say goodbye to loved ones, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

“Grief needs to be expressed, and it is very important to the healing process. Delaying this process, only increases the emotional strain on families.

“They need to grieve, before they can heal.”

Alberta Health Services has four pages of regulations for funerals on its COVID website.

There are detailed instructions on everything from how pallbearers can safely bear caskets to how to handle gifts from attendees or other family friends and family. Usual safety measures, such as the use of face masks, frequent hand sanitizing and maintaining physical distancing are also covered.

Physical contact, such as hugging, is discouraged.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer now has 911 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 2,917 active cases

An anti-lockdown protest went ahead outside a café in central Alberta on Saturday, despite pouring rain and a pre-emptive court injunction. (Photo by The Canadian Press)
Anti-restriction protest underway in central Alberta despite injunction

A large crowd has gathered in the parking lot of the Whistle… Continue reading

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre's expansion project is still a high priority, says Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Red Deer hospital ICU admissions stable, but rising, says surgeon

The Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s intensive care unit is in better… Continue reading

Alberta recorded a single-day record of over 57,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta hits daily record of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

Central zone has administered 111,735 doses of the COVID-19

FILE - A firefighter wears a mask as he drives his truck. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward, File
VIDEO: Flames rip through Edmonton-area seniors complex, but no fatalities

ST. ALBERT, Alta. — Fire has destroyed part of a retirement complex… Continue reading

Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, is setting off a social media reaction with his calls to stop non essential shopping, such as "buying sandals at Costco", with this photo of his worn sandals, which he published to social media on Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Dr. Robert Strang, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Nova Scotia’s top doctor sparks meme with caution on non-essential shopping

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s top doctor has launched a social media meme… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Canada's chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Tam warns that full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Canada’s chief public health officer reminded Canadians on Saturday that even those… Continue reading

Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour conducts drills during NHL hockey training camp in Morrisville, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
NHL relaxing virus protocols for vaccinated playoff teams

The NHL is relaxing virus protocols for teams that reach a threshold… Continue reading

Canada skip Kerri Einarson directs her teammates against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Einarson eliminated at curling worlds after 8-3 loss to Sweden’s Hasselborg

CALGARY — Canada’s Kerri Einarson was eliminated at the world women’s curling… Continue reading

Jennifer Coffman, owner of Truffle Pigs in Field, B.C., poses beside her business sign on Thursday, May 6, 2021, in this handout photo. Her restaurant and lodge have been hit hard by a closure of a section of the Trans-Canada Highway and by the British Columbia government discouraging Alberta residents from visiting during the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Jennifer Coffman, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
‘Why we survive’: B.C. boundary towns struggle without Albertans during pandemic

Jennifer Coffman didn’t expect to get hit with a double whammy at… Continue reading

A courtroom at the Edmonton Law Courts building, in Edmonton on Friday, June 28, 2019. The effect of the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the Canadian justice system warn a number of legal experts. The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench announced Sunday it would adjourn all scheduled trials across the province for at least 10-weeks limiting hearings to only emergency or urgent matters. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton mother found guilty of manslaughter in death of five-year-old girl

EDMONTON — An Edmonton woman was found guilty Friday of manslaughter in… Continue reading

A Statistics Canada 2016 Census mailer sits on the key board of a laptop after arriving in the mail at a residence in Ottawa, May 2, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Statistics Canada sees more demand to fill out census online during pandemic

OTTAWA — Statistics Canada says the response to the census is higher… Continue reading

Travellers, who are not affected by new quarantine rules, arrive at Terminal 3 at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. Ottawa will create a new digital platform to help in processing immigration applications more quickly and efficiently after COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a faster shift to a digital immigration system, the immigration department said. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ottawa to create new system to tackle delays in processing immigration applications

Ottawa says it will create a new digital platform to help process… Continue reading

Most Read