By JEFFREY HASTINGS
MANCHESTER — Families who have lost loved ones are now being impacted by the new coronavirus outbreak when deciding funeral plans.
Although funerals and visiting hours can still be held, the guidelines in the wake of COVID-19 have changed significantly. These changes are forcing people to modify or delay services.
Buddy Phaneuf, president of Phaneuf Funeral Homes & Crematorium, spoke about the changes and impacts.
Phaneuf’s company provides services for 20 percent of all deaths in New Hampshire. According to Phaneuf, many families have changed from traditional wakes and funerals to smaller graveside services to limit the number of people gathering together.
Families who have made the choice of cremation have more options including delaying the services to future dates. Many families who are still planning to hold funeral or church services are opting to not publish obituaries or social media to limit attendance, he said.
Live-stream services are also available so that loved ones can view the services and ceremony remotely while some members of the family attend the service. This is especially important for families who have elderly members who are more sensitive to the exposure of the virus.
The largest cemetery in New Hampshire, the Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, is recommending graveside services if weather is appropriate. If the family wishes to use the chapel due to weather the service can only be attended by 10 or less people.
The U.S. Air Force announced effective March 20 they will not conduct military honors for any burials, which is a national directive. Families may choose to conduct a direct burial at the NH State Veterans Cemetery and then schedule a full committal service with honors at a future date.
According to Phaneuf, increased precautions for the protection of workers is in place, and nursing homes and hospitals they do business with continue to add layers of precautions. ?
Phaneuf, who is a member of the NH Funeral Directors Association, said most funeral homes are following the same guidelines as his company. A link was set up for information on how services are being impacted and frequently asked questions which can be found here Impact Of Funerals From COVID-19
Every attempt is being made to keep people safe, honor the wishes of families and honor their loved ones, he said.