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Local funeral director explains how coronavirus has changed the grieving process

ALPENA, Mich. —  The dynamic of funerals is changing now that large gatherings are prohibited to prevent the spread of coronavirus. But that means families who experience loss during this time are now facing an additional, and unforeseen problem.

Funeral director at McWilliams Funeral Home, Jeff Faircloth, says, “I think the biggest change is the obvious restrictions on the number of people who can be in a room at any given time. It limits not only friends and the community that might want to show up and show support and be a part of the grieving process with the family, it also limits the family itself.”

Now, those families are having to find alternate ways to grieve their loved ones, without being able to console each other in person.

“With the day and age we’re in with technology, we at least have that going for us,” Faircloth says. “Whether its YouTube or Facebook live and other social media outlets, we at least have that opportunity. Has frustration been expressed? Absolutely. But there’s also an understanding at this unprecedented time. There’s understanding and grace.”

Like many small businesses, Faircloth says the coronavirus response has taken an economic toll on the funeral home. Some families have cancelled home-going services altogether. But for Faircloth, the economic challenges aren’t even the worst part.

“As a funeral director, I think that’s probably where most of the frustration that I experience is for myself, because I’m not able to provide the grieving process, a funeral, as a whole to families like I would like to do.”

Faircloth says they are live streaming services and have spaced out chairs in their chapel to abide by governor Whitmer’s orders. He says as an essential establishment, McWilliams Funeral Home is taking the situation seriously, and will be open to help the community anyway they can.