Challenges in the Funeral Business During a Pandemic

Businesses across the country experienced challenges after the pandemic started. Many had to close due to lack of revenue, and they couldn’t connect with their market. But some businesses adapted quickly and connected with their market soon after the health crisis began.

Similarly, the funeral business also faced challenges that compelled it to be agile to remain on top of the changes in the business landscape. Funeral homes had to comply with local and state restrictions due to the spread of Covid-19.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also implemented guidelines for funerals. Due to this, funeral homes modified their operations to adhere to the guidelines.

Aside from these, the funeral business also faces other challenges that emerged during the pandemic. Here are some of the challenges that funeral professionals have to deal with until everything goes back to normal.

Limited Physical Gatherings

The guidelines set by the CDC recommended using virtual-only services rather than in-person gatherings in funeral homes. These limitations became a challenge as memorial services allowed funeral homes to earn additional revenue.

Additionally, visitations before the memorial service were also removed. This took away the opportunity for close friends and relatives of the deceased to gather to comfort each other.

For outdoor memorial services, there were limitations on the number of people who can attend depending on the available space in the area. It was necessary for people who do not stay in the same household to be at least six feet apart. The visitors also had to wear masks.

Personal Protective Equipment

Another challenge that funeral professionals faced during the pandemic was following the protocols on wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). This was necessary to protect them from the virus. The CDC outlined these guidelines to ensure the protection of the staff of funeral homes.

The challenge was more than just putting on the PPE since the staff understands its importance for their safety. It was challenging to find suitable PPEs that they can use at work. Aside from the supply shortage, the cost of the PPE can also affect the revenue of the funeral home.

The guidelines also required disinfection of the exterior of the cadaver bags with EPA-approved products that can deal with emerging pathogens. It was necessary to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure the proper preparation and handling of the product.

Technology in Funerals

The pandemic highlighted the importance of technology in many industries around the country. Companies also asked their employees to work from home to avoid getting infected and prevent the spread of the virus. It also compelled retail stores to go online to connect with their market.

Similarly, funeral homes used technology to offer virtual memorial services. With the restrictions on large gatherings, this became necessary to stop super-spreader events from starting.

Many funeral professionals noted the increase in the use of technology after the pandemic started. It also compelled them to adapt and learn to use live-streaming technology so they can facilitate virtual services for the family and friends of the deceased.

Additionally, these professionals also met and discuss preparations for the services with the families through teleconferencing applications and platforms, such as Zoom and Google Meet.

Increase in Cremations

The pandemic saw an increase in the use of cremation services of funeral homes. The demand has already increased in the past few years. From around 30 percent two decades ago, it increased to around 57 percent in 2019. The pandemic also caused a surge in the number of deaths that resulted in an increasing demand for cremations.

Despite this mini-boom in demand for cremations, it has affected the revenue of funeral homes since a simple cremation with a simple urn costs around $3,000. On the other hand, elaborate funerals can cost around $20,000 and above.

These funerals typically draw a good-sized crowd and have flowers, an ornate tombstone, and a mahogany casket. The pandemic limited the ability of funeral homes to upsell their products and services.

Staff Guidelines

When the pandemic started, state and CDC guidelines required funeral homes to reduce staffing to ensure the safety of the workers. Even though the remaining staff can still provide suitable services to their clients.

The reduced staffing increased the physical and mental stress on the funeral professionals trying to cope with the situation. The staffing reduction also added to the burden of lower revenues for funeral homes during the pandemic, along with the PPE requirement.

The funeral business faced a lot of challenges during the pandemic. Funeral professionals hope that the vaccines will finally end the health crisis and bring everything back to normal.