LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral homes across the state are still open and holding services. But a few have had to get creative in how they help families safely say goodbye.
Steve Schade begins the day like normal. “We would just be getting ready for a funeral like we normally do,” Schade explains. Even in the midst of COVID, the funeral director with Smith Funeral Home in Little Rock stays busy. “We service most of the families here in central Arkansas,” Schade says, “we’re probably the largest funeral home in the state of Arkansas.” He says the number of funerals has remained steady throughout the pandemic; what’s changed is how they’re being planned. “We made sure that we had hand sanitizer out for everybody, [and] as the mandate came, we were requiring masks.”
With social distancing concerns and limits on public gatherings, the funeral home has turned to technology. “It’s really opened the door for us to be creative,” says Schade. Now, family members states away can pay their respects with livestreams of the service, and share a message with grieving loved ones. “‘A hug from home,'” Schade explains, “which is a video message that they can upload to our platform.” Smith Funeral Home also says they’re having outdoor services whenever they can, and just recently allowed services to take place in their chapel again, with social distancing guidelines in place.
Although the logistics of planning a funeral have changed, Schade says the core of what they do remains the same, so families still have a chance to say goodbye. “We’re in the caring profession,” Schade says, “and what we do while we’re still in business is we still care for families.”
You can learn more about Smith Funeral Homes here.