GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

Wisconsin Coronavirus: Planning a funeral service with physical distancing

From the Local 5 Digital Desk

Green Bay, Wis. (WFRV) — Having to go through the loss of a loved one isn’t easy in normal times. People can feel isolated, traumatized, and overwhelmed.

One of the benefits of having a funeral service is the comfort and solace provided from seeing old friends or distant family members, hearing stories about the person who has passed, and of course the hugs.

So how are people planning funerals and coping with all of the feelings that go along with that event with physical distancing guidelines?

Local 5 reached out some funeral homes in the community to find out what adjustments have been made to this essential service, and what advice they have for losing a family member during a pandemic.

Joe Vanden Avond is a funeral director at Ryan Funeral Home in De Pere. He says responsible options are pretty limited, “People can be feeling pretty isolated to begin with.” he says. Going through a loss any time can be challenging but now, with physical distancing, it can exacerbate the feeling of isolation even more so.

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Cheryl Hansen from Hansen Family Funeral Services agreed. “It’s heartbreaking,” she says. “One of the joys of having a funeral service is seeing how many people were touched by this one person.”

Knowing the rules that are in place have helped both businesses work with families and help to plan services.

Virtual visitation and web-based funerals are now available options. It gives families the opportunity to have a service in a ‘live-type’ setting. Facebook lives are another option, allowing loved ones to interact and comfort each other in real time.

For some, however; even visiting virtually can be exhausting after a while. When wanting to offer comfort to someone going through a loss, Vanden Avond says, “There’s a place for an old-fashioned letter.” Taking the time to write a letter about how the person has touched a life can be comforting to a family member.

Some families are opting to do a final goodbye at the funeral home and then postponing the memorial service to a time when the physical distancing guidelines are lifted.

To connect with others who may be also going through a loss, or just to connect for a healthy outlook, Hansen has started a Facebook group, Enjoy Life! By Cheryl Hansen. Posts here are to help those in the group to stay positive. Posts vary from recipes to life achievements and even an occasional photo of a sunset.

How can people move forward?

“It’s really about the person’s life,” Hansen told Local 5. “It has not been an easy challenge… my whole thing is that everybody’s life can be inspiring to others.”

Vanden Avond adds, “Stick with your family, take time for yourself when you can, and eat healthy… if your body is well, it will help your mind too.”

Located in De Pere, you can reach out to Ryan Funeral Home on their website, ryanfh.com.

Hansen Family Funeral services can be found on Lime Kiln Road in Green Bay, reach out online at hansenfuneralservice.com.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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