Funeral homes limit visitations as precaution

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

You only die once.

And when that time comes, Andy Nass, owner of Nass & Son Funeral Home in Huntingburg, knows that the grieving process for your loved ones can’t be put on hold.

“It’s something you can’t just put on the back-burner and say, ‘Well, a month from now we’re gonna just have a funeral then,’” Nass said. “I think a person who says that doesn’t really know what the process of grieving is. Because you can’t just push it off. That’s not how grief works.”

Changes have come to Dubois County’s three funeral homes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Nass & Son, Becher-Kluesner Funeral Home of Jasper and Becher Funeral Home of Ferdinand each remain in operation, but visitations will be scaled down, and extra precautions are being taken at each site.

“We’ve all been in sync with the health department here,” Joe Kluesner, funeral director at Becher-Kluesner, said of area homes. “Trying to keep up to date, as well as guidance from the Indiana Funeral Directors Association and such on best practices.”

Becher-Kluesner has moved to offering only private visitations and funeral services with immediate family and invited guests. Public visitations will not be offered for awhile, Kluesner said. Extra sanitation practices are taking place at the Jasper home, and other foot traffic inside has been limited, too.

“A lot of our people who visit us are older people,” Kluesner said. “We want to protect everybody. So, we’re going to do what is recommended that we do best.”

Kluesner stressed that those who would like to send flowers or gifts to families of those who have lost a loved one can still do so by calling local florists and gift shops, who will be given addresses for those grieving families. Like all homes in the county, condolences can also be shared on each of their websites.

At Nass & Son, future guests will be requested to use hand sanitizer, which has been placed at every door. Visitors will also be requested to avoid shaking hands and hugging, and are being asked to skip out on visiting with friends and extended relatives at visitations after greeting those closest to the person who was lost.

A public visitation will be hosted at the funeral home today, though on Thursday, Nass had not decided if any future services would be limited to private parties, adding that he was waiting for the IFDA to give more of an opinion on the matter.

He did say that the business would most likely move to allowing families to invite guests, with times not being printed in the newspaper.

If that does in fact happen, those smaller, private offerings can still help those suffering from loss — while using social distancing to trim the risk of disease transmission.

“The whole purpose of the funeral, the visitation, whatever ceremony or type of thing you want to set up, is to help that grief process,” Nass said. “And you can find ways to do that [that aren’t] going to spread the virus anymore than any other virus that is out there. And you can actually do it very safely, so that you don’t have to worry about it.”

In Ferdinand, Becher Funeral Home moved earlier this week to facilitate only private visitations and funeral services. Lance Becher, who owns the business, explained that the precautions taken to avoid the spread of the virus have significantly cut down the amount of time allotted for viewings and visitations. The home typically does a lot of Catholic funerals, and because Masses are not taking place in churches, the services are now being at the funeral home. He encouraged only immediate family members to attend services and visitations.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Becher said. “I keep on telling people, it’s not that you’re gonna get sick. It’s that you could be carrying it, and get other people sick. And we have a lot of older people, their friends come to the funeral home. And it’s a danger for the older people more so than anybody else, but they still come.”

Becher said viewings and services were limited to 50 people or fewer on Tuesday, and that the average number has hovered around 30. Staff continues to disinfect the bathrooms, lounge area, floors, door knobs and handles.

“I think that they should take heed to what the governor is saying,” Becher said in a message to readers. “What the CDC is saying, what the churches are saying. Take heed to that information. They wouldn’t put it out there if they didn’t think it was prudent to contain this thing.”




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