Funeral home discusses grief during pandemic

To the Editor,

Serving as a licensed funeral director for nearly three decades, I have seen some amazing and troubling trends in how we pay tribute to loved ones that die. Death is a very uncomfortable subject for most and I understand that fully. That being said, I do wish to share some thoughts on why we have funerals in the first place. During the Covid-19 shutdowns, funeral homes throughout Kansas and the nation have grappled with how to do our jobs and serve. Many people opted not to have a funeral service because of restrictions and social distancing. We abided by those requests and let things happen as they happened. Here is the fallout from not being proactive enough – cases of unresolved grief and unhealthy grief responses are alarmingly increasing. This situation has increased stress on family units and decreased physical health in those affected. There is an old saying “Grief Shared IS Grief Diminished and Joy Shared IS Joy increased”. Another quotation often cited throughout history on this subject was attributed to William Gladstone, British Prime Minister- “ Show me the manner in which a nation cares for it’s dead, and I will demonstrate with mathematical accuracy the tender mercy of that nation”. There is not much tender mercy in this nation right now and getting back to fundamental care and concern for each other is part of the remedy. Funerals provide a measure of that remedy. Why is your funeral home here: We are here to honor the dead- facilitate “paying respects” to those that died- death leaves a void and people are grateful to have the opportunity to honor their friend; We comfort the bereaved- families of the dead, urgently need the assurance that they are in experienced hands and the assurance of friends; We have a need to worship together to remind us of the gratitude we hold for the creation of that life and assurance that we know who holds the future; and to remind ourselves of a continued responsibility to be our brother/sister’s keeper. Caring about each member of the community makes the community stronger during a death, at the funeral, and months after the death. The funeral director provides all of this and so much more. As we travel through this Covid era, we have made some adjustments to our services so we can meet the above-mentioned needs; Audio and Streaming services at the graveside, church or funeral home is now available to all our clients; Social distancing protocol allows us to have gatherings and funerals at the funeral home as we have redesigned our spacing; expanding gathering hours so that we don’t have huge crowds gather in the funeral home for just a couple hours but rather having calling hours from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. allowing people to pay their respects. Hand sanitizer, individual register book pens you take home, and a staff member to open and close the door for guests is all part of our protocol to keep us all safe and allow people to continue to grieve in a healthy way and keep our community strong. Every corner of the world has changed but what will never change is our constant and comforting presence in your time of need. Be well and stay safe.

Brad Yazel, President

Yazel-Megli Funeral Homes