Funeral homes becoming innovative during pandemic

Glenn Taylor Jr. looks at a card for a message of condolence that is attached to a white balloon on Thursday as a room is set up for a funeral service at Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory.

Owensboro funeral homes are rapidly adjusting to the coronavirus pandemic and funerals being limited to immediate family only.

Glenn Funeral Home and Crematory is using white balloons with messages of condolence attached to represent friends and family at the service.

Glenn Peyton Taylor said, “We’re a member of the Selected Independent Funeral Homes Association. Miller-Orr Funeral Home in Paducah came up with this idea and gave the other members of the association permission to use it.”

The program, “From Our Hearts to Yours,” lets friends go to www.glenncares.com, click on “From Our Hearts To Yours,” and leave a message for the family.

“We’ll transcribe the message and attach it to a balloon,” Taylor said. “We’ve had 13 so far.”

The balloons float in the chapel during the service.

“The balloons represent people at the funeral,” Taylor said. “It doesn’t feel as empty. It helps support families during a tough time.”

He said, “There is no charge and the families can take the balloons home.”

John Hill, vice president of James H. Davis Funeral Home & Crematory, said, “We’ve put in two new camera systems. We’re streaming funerals live if the family requests and we’re saving them on our website so people can view them later if they want.”

He said, “We’re doing our best to accommodate families’ requests. We’re doing graveside services and in the funeral home with 10 or fewer people, whichever the family requests.”

Hill said, “Funerals are sad anyway, but funerals with 10 or fewer people are even more sad. This makes people realize how important it is to reach out to others when they’re grieving.”

He said James H. Davis has also set up its website to allow people to pre-arrange funerals there.

Hill said pricing is available on the website with pictures of caskets and other items.

“We’re just taking it hour by hour,” he said.

Nathan Morris, president of The Morris Group, which includes Haley-McGinnis Funeral Home and Crematory, said, “If we can’t create an incredible experience physically, we are doing so virtually! All of our locations offer live-streaming to create a visual experience as best we can for those who attend via their smart device.”

He said, “Obituaries are now including hyperlinks to the home’s Facebook page, promoting their funeral time.”

Morris said, “We have to be creative, now more than ever. We have daily huddles amongst our hospitality group and directors, challenging them to be diligent in their efforts. Death is such an uncertainty already. Trekking through a loss in today’s time adds much more anxiety to a family. We must continue to be the helpers.”

At McFarland Funeral Home, Dwight McFarland said, “We haven’t had a funeral since this started.”

But he said the funeral home will follow the guidelines of private funerals with no public visitation.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301

klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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