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Local funeral homes focus on families during nationwide outbreak

Friday, March 20, 2020

The ongoing nationwide coronavirus has resulted in changes throughout the U.S., including right here in Lincoln Parish.

Some of those changes have been noticed at Ruston funeral homes.

One of those changes is the number of people attending wakes and funerals overseen by area funeral homes.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards last Friday banned groups of more than 50 people from gathering until the coronavirus crisis eases, and that mandate has trickled down to area funerals.

“We’re letting the families decide who that 50 should be,” said Bob Hearn of Kilpatrick Funeral Homes of Ruston. “And everyone is agreeing.”

Blaine Owens, director at Owens Memorial Funeral Home, said he is leaving decisions up to the families of the deceased.

“We’re counseling families, those are the people we’re here for,” Owens said. “If they want a family-only funeral, that’s what they’ll get. We’re letting them make their decisions and just following their directions.

“Most older people aren’t getting out right now in any case, so I don’t think that’s a real concern. We’re just going to continue being there for our families and trying to accommodate their wishes, whatever those wishes might be.”

Earlier this week funeral directors across the nation were urged by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to livestream future services to comply with restrictions against large gatherings as a result of coronavirus concerns. The United Kingdom is livestreaming its funeral services, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

“We’ve looked into that, but it’s not available right now,” Hearn said.

Hearn stressed that there is no constant in a situation that is changing so rapidly.

“This is how things are tonight, but that might not be the way they are tomorrow,” Hearn said. “Things keep changing as a rapid pace, and we’re just doing like everyone else and making adjustments as those changes come.”