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Funeral homes continue to comfort families during COVID-19

Funeral homes are having to adapt to Gov. Roy Cooper’s restriction on public gatherings due to the coronavirus COVID-19.

Josh Rich, who is general manager of Hartsell Funeral Home’s four locations, including Albemarle, said services adhere to the under 50 person limit and that cleaning and disinfecting is key more than ever.

The limit changes for Hartsell’s Harrisburg location since more clientele and cemeteries reach into Mecklenburg County, where there is a limit of 10 or less persons.

The Harrisburg facility also received the first death in the state due to the virus.

Since the person’s family was exposed before the person was diagnosed with it, Rich said arrangements were handled by phone or email.

The funeral home was already ahead in its service capabilities.

“We already had webcasting of all our services in place,” Rich said. “All that was already up and running for us.”

Kelsey Funeral Home of Albemarle shared some of the preventative measures it is doing for the safety of its employees and the public.

Public viewings and chapel services at the funeral home, and private services, are not exceeding 10 family members at one time. Only immediate family members directly involved in arrangements are allowed to attend consultations.

“We sincerely appreciate your patience and understanding during this transition and we will continue to give honorable and dignified services to our families,” Cheryl Anderson of Kelsey said.

Stephen Aldridge, owner of Stanly Funeral & Cremation Care, believes it is not a time for fear, but to use common sense. He agreed it is unlike anything ever.

“The toughest part is not hugging on families when we go to pick up somebody,” Aldridge said. “When you can’t shake hands or hug, it just makes it difficult.”

Aldridge said the funeral home has offered extended visitations without family members present.

“None of this is normal, which is the toughest part,” Aldridge said. “There is meaning in funeral service. When you can’t have them, it creates an awareness of what value they do have. When people come and hug your neck and tell you they’re sorry, it helps you heal. I think people’s hearts are going to hurt a lot longer and a lot worse.”

Edwards Funeral Home posted a message to its Facebook page shortly after the virus hit the state.

“Edwards Funeral Home has been blessed these many years to have developed friendships that will last a lifetime with the families we serve,” owner Mitchell Edwards said. “This is a time we need to consider paying our respect in ways we are not accustomed, such as sharing your condolences on our website, or stopping by the funeral home to pay your respects privately. Sending flowers, making memorials to charities of the family’s choice or may I suggest taking some much needed food to our local food pantries or a simple act of kindness in our loved one’s memory. During these uncertain days I believe we are all called to do our part in keeping everyone well and safe.”

B.J. Drye is editor of The Stanly News & Press. Call 704-982-2123, or follow bjdrye1 on Twitter.