We at Putnam work hard to empower our community with information and help build a positive and meaningful foundation for grief. With the advent of the Coronavirus – COVID-19 – people are starting to change how they interact with each other. This has implications for how families handle arrangements with funeral homes and their choices for viewing and services.
As funeral directors, we are always on the front lines. We are experienced working with families and deceased who have been exposed to a variety of pathogens, and we are vigilant in protecting our staff and our families. With this novel virus, rest assured that we are implementing additional disinfection and containment procedures that go beyond standard infection prevention and control precautions when taking your loved one into our care and that we are including the use of additional personal protective equipment (above and beyond what is required) when embalming. As a standard practice, we thoroughly clean and disinfect our facilities on a regular basis and before and after visitations, services, and when working with families of a deceased with a known pathogen. We have increased our disinfection procedures to include day-to-day foot traffic.
When it is time to make funeral or cremation arrangements, we are stocked with hand sanitizer and hand washing stations for our families that choose to meet with us face-to-face. We can also utilize Docusign to facilitate remote arrangements.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that a loved one who died of COVID-19 may be buried or cremated according to the family’s preferences. The CDC also reports that “ a funeral or visitation service can be held for a person who has died of COVID-19,” and that “there is currently no known risk associated with being in the same room at a funeral or visitation service with the body of someone who died of COVID-10.” However, the CDC urges people to not touch the body of someone who has died of COVID-19 and to continue to wash your hands and cover coughs and sneezes. We are prepared to discuss alternatives, such as webcasting or moving a service to a later date, with our concerned families.
With on-site refrigeration and the only crematory in the Highland Lakes area, your loved one stays at Putnam, nor do we cremate for other funeral homes or cremation services, thus potentially helping to reduce the spread of this virus within our community and state. Putnam cares, and we go above and beyond to maintain your peace of mind. Please do not hesitate to call, email, or visit the following web sites for more information:
Thoughts on Grief During the Holidays and Major Events by Jessamyn Putnam
The holidays are here, and whether it is your first holiday following the loss of a loved one or not, suffice it to say, this is usually a rough time of year for those grieving the loss of someone they loved.
So what do you do? While there is no “one size fits all” approach, grief does not take a sabbatical at Christmas, or weddings, or birthdays. First and foremost, allow yourself and others the right to grieve. Everyone grieves differently, and instead of telling someone how to grieve, allow them the freedom to grieve in their own way and do not take it personally. I have twin boys, and while identical, they grieve differently. One acts out and says mean things, the other just cries and cries with very loud, heart-wrenching sobs. I acknowledge their loss and give them space and forgiveness, while also allowing myself the opportunity to step away and cry my own tears. We can also be hard on ourselves, but this is not the time. We must give ourselves grace and space to grieve. Stifling or denying grief leads to unresolved grief which can cause physiological problems and make you physically ill.
Recognize and commemorate your loved one by saving a seat. Set a place at the table, include a favorite shirt on the chair, shoes on the floor, and/or photo on the place setting. Your loved one might be physically gone but will remain ever present in your thoughts for some time to come. Encourage family and friends to share their memories or stories. While a loved one might no longer be with us, it is important to remember the good times, to laugh about funny things they said or did, and to acknowledge that he or she is missed. Yes, there is a strong possibility of tears, but it is also a time for family bonds and bonds of friendship to grow stronger.
Know you are not alone. Friends oftentimes do not know how to respond to someone grieving the loss of a loved one. They would love for you to reach out and tell them what you need. At the same time, it is important for friends to offer specific ways of assistance – cooking a meal, mowing the lawn, folding laundry, a cup of coffee. Every day tasks can often feel overwhelming when someone you loved has died. Lean on your churches, funeral homes, hospices, and social/service organizations as many offer grief programs and/or assistance with daily tasks.
Remember to breathe. Take each day at a time. And save a seat for the one you loved.
©2019 Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory
This season is about Peace on Earth, but what about Peace of Mind? Believe it or not, talking about, or even better, writing down your wishes about your care after you pass, can contribute towards one’s peace of mind, the issue is breaking through our unease when we confront the idea of death.
Ultimately the issue at the end of the day is that we do not know what we do not know. It might seem easier to just to “let your family handle your arrangements” or to “just toss you to the curb.” While in writing that seems harsh, people have been saying this to funeral directors for years. The hard truth is that this approach fails, that this approach can cause emotional harm, financial issues, and create additional stress for those you leave behind.
Did you know that a Power of Attorney expires upon death, and if you did not leave written authorization, that it falls to your next of kin (a spouse with dementia, or biological children that were disinherited or can’t get along, or someone further removed from you) to make your funeral arrangements? This can lead to days turning into weeks, sometimes month, and a judge making the decision – this can drain your family emotionally and the finances of your estate. Or perhaps a disinherited biological child will step forward and make the choices that they want and choices that probably won’t mirror what you would have wanted. Designating an “agent of disposition” will alleviate this quandary.
Did you know that cremation is more legalistic in the state of Texas than burial? You can be buried within 24 hours and without a signed death certificate in the State of Texas. However, there is a 48 hour waiting period for cremation, the doctor must sign the death certificate and has up to 10 days in order to do so, your immediate next of kin has to sign a cremation authorization, and depending on the county you die in, there could be other required permits. This means that it can take 2-10 days, or even more, to be cremated, especially if your family disagrees as to burial or cremation. And don’t forget that you must either be embalmed or refrigerated within 24 hours. However, if you provide self-authorization in writing that you want to be cremated, then your next of kin does not need to sign a cremation authorization which has the potential to speed up the process. And if you include your wishes on refrigeration or embalming, that also removes a decision from the shoulders of your grieving family.
In my experience, families that preplan give a huge gift to the ones they leave behind. Now those family members might not want to wake up on Christmas Day to a stocking stuffed with prearrangements, but when the time comes to use them, they will understand and be immensely grateful.