Funeral homes ask for state to reconsider limitations during ‘pause’
If you lose a loved one over the course of the two week pause you may have to wait until afterward to have a wake or service for them - if you're intending to have it at a funeral home.
LINCOLN, R.I. (WLNE) – If you lose a loved one over the course of the two week pause you may have to wait until afterward to have a wake or service for them – if you’re intending to have it at a funeral home.
The President-Elect of the Rhode Island Funeral Directors Association Allan Bellows, of Bellows Funeral Chapel, tells ABC 6 that throughout the pandemic they’ve been operating under the same capacity rules as houses of worship.
They were expecting the same to apply for the two week pause, but as it turns out they’ve been told funeral and memorial services will not be allowed in funeral homes.
The government is instead instructing people to have funerals and wakes at houses of worship which are allowed to be open at 25 percent capacity.
Bellows says some people don’t belong to a house of worship, and some houses of worship have yet to reopen.
“We’re not looking for public services or public visiting hours, but just the opportunity for a family to begin the process of healthy grieving,” said Bellows.
Bellows says it’s a concern for their member funeral homes who may end up with a backlog of families waiting to have wakes or funerals.
“We’re the ones that are meeting with these families that are experiencing a death,” said Bellows. “And we’re the ones that have to explain the limitations that are created by these guidelines on behalf of the state essentially.”
In addition to the mental health concerns for Rhode Island families, Bellows says it’s also a public health concern. He says these limitations could lead to families gathering to mourn in their own homes, which is much less controlled than the social distancing measures the funeral homes follow.
“It’s just a delicate balance that exists between people’s mental health as they go through the grieving process, as well as the physical health in terms of making sure that Covid-19 doesn’t spread any further,” said Bellows.
Bellows says they’ve reached out to the governor’s office, which has acknowledged receiving their concerns, but he says he’s not sure if they’ll reverse their decision.
ABC 6 reached out to the governor’s office for comment but did not hear back.