Pews in a chapel
Pews in the Butherus, Maser and Love funeral home chapel have been roped off to keep services socially distanced.

The current coronavirus pandemic has affected most Nebraska businesses, some of them being directly involved in the care of those with the virus.

Funeral homes provide necessary services to families who have lost a loved one. These services include preparing the deceased for the funeral, providing caskets or urns and officiating the funeral.

However, with new social distance guidelines in place, funeral homes are adjusting how they provided services.

“When it (COVID-19) first started, it was 10 people for the services,” said Patrick McCashland, co-owner and funeral director at Butherus, Maser and Love Funeral Home in Lincoln.

“If my dad would have died, it would have just been me and my brother and sisters and that would have been it,” McCashland said.

According to McCashland, services are now up to 50% capacity, but they are still requiring social distancing measures in the services. This includes roping off pews in the chapel to keep people at least 6 feet apart from each other.

For those who have lost loved ones recently, social distancing has made attending funerals more difficult. People also worry about the spread of the virus, so some choose to not attend.

“There are a lot of people who are opting to have services at a later date,” said Spencer Hunt, a funeral director and embalmer at Gering Memorial Chapel in Gering.

Families are choosing to have a cremation and postpone their services so that more people can attend, according to Hunt.

One new and increasingly requested method of sociallly distanced services is through streaming. Many funeral homes are streaming services online.

“Before we wouldn’t do it unless people requested it, but pretty much now, almost all our services are going that way,” McCashland said.

The handling of the deceased has also changed for funeral home workers. This includes transporting the deceased from the place where they died.

“When somebody dies in a nursing home, you just go in and pick up the body,” McCashland said. “But a lot of times now, they’ll bring it into a room,” McCashland said.

According to McCashland, this room is used to keep the deceased’s body away from the rest of the residents of a facility.

Extra measures are also being taken to ensure the safety of workers who go to pick up the deceased.

“We have full body covers that we wear as well as shoe covers, hairnets, face shields, as well our masks,” Hunt said.

“If we are going to be embalming that person we remain in all of that personal protective equipment,” Hunt said. “Then we leave that person in quarantine for a couple of days after the embalming.”

While the sanitizing processes for the deceased are still place, restrictions have been eased which have made arranging funerals easier. However, there are still families waiting for restrictions to be eased further according to McCashland.

McCashland remains positive on the future.

“We’re a generation that these things come around every 100 years,” McCashland said. “We’re a generation that gets to experience the good and bad of it.”

Casey Christensen is a senior Journalism and Sociology double-major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.