March 4, 2021

Stevens County Times

Your spot for community news in Stevens County, Minnesota

New options for funeral services in light of COVID-19

Showing their respects in a unique fashion, the friends and family of Tom Marty line the highway through Chokio, as a short funeral procession passes by. This is a way to support families when not able to attend the funeral.

Even though it may seem like the world as we know it has shut down, there are things that continue to happen as usual. One of those is death. Life goes on, and so does the end of life. 

Pederson Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Morris along with the Starbuck Funeral Home continue to have calls from families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. They want to assure the community that they are still here to assist them throughout this critical time. Their commitment to provide compassionate care will remain strong.

“We know how important the life event of a funeral is,” said Shane Decker of Pederson’s. “We are here to serve and create a meaningful service, with technology and care of our facilities a funeral or memorial service is still worthwhile.”

Decker wants the public to know, first and foremost, that they are here to serve and realize how important the start to closure is for a family and the funeral is that gateway to a healthy grief journey. Pedersen Funeral Home has been working on several options to create a service that has the ability to have meaning and gather closure.

Due to the restrictions set by the CDC and federal government, a gathering of 10 or fewer persons in an area is mandated. “We want families to know we can still have a visitation, no longer public visitation, however a time to gather their loved ones to say goodbye. It is our standard to have 10 or fewer. If a family is larger than 10, we can properly disinfect our facility and have separate time to give an additional group of 10 family members to gather to get their closure.” A funeral can also be held, however, only with ten or less family members present. In the event of a large family, means of technology can be used to help with others interested in joining the family for this service.

One option is to use Microsoft Teams, an app, where you can join through a link and then go into a waiting room. Family members can click on the person’s link and invite them into a virtual visitation without leaving their homes.

Decker stated that they can serve the family and webcast the funeral for others. This has been done before and would be an option today. The service can be a live webcast or recorded and sent out to others privately or for public viewing on our website. The funeral home is using Microsoft Teams software that is allowing them to do several other things like make funeral arrangements, have a pre-need conference or even visit about markers or monuments.

The staff at Pedersen Funeral Home has urged families having a private service at this time to have a public visitation or memorial service at a later date. This will allow the community to not only gather to pay respects to the decedent but give comfort to the family. “I really feel for the families losing a loved one at this difficult time, they are unable to get the comfort and support that is needed with their loss from their family, friends and community. The visitation and funeral or memorial service is so important when we lose someone we love. Having burial of the casketed remains or cremated remains can happen at this time privately, and then the service planned for later. Decker explained that when there is a body present, it is called a funeral. If the body is not present, it is a memorial service.

After care is also a very important part of the grieving process. Rose Murphy of Pederson’s is not able to hold any group gatherings. Instead, she is making phone calls and communicating with the grieving families in other ways. They recognize that anxiety and loneliness might feel particularly magnified right now, so they encourage you to reach out to them if needed.

Decker also added that in the event of a death from COVID-19, visitations and funerals can still be held. CDC guidelines will be followed in preparing the decedent for services, and family can view and have funeral services per the same guidelines of any other death.

Decker stated that people can learn more about what they have to offer by visiting their website or calling the funeral home. Most of all he wants everyone to know that they are here to serve the community through this difficult time.

Katie Erdman