COVID-19 Changes How Local Residents Mourn the Dead

The death of a loved one typically defies all social distancing norms for family and friends who wish to offer condolences and mourn.

But as the coronavirus public health crisis continues to unfold, local residents are adapting to new ways of mourning.

At Chestnut Grove Cemetery, a 35-acre historic cemetery in the Town of Herndon, pallbearers now carry the casket to the grave as family and loved ones watch the burial service far from the area. Official graveside services are suspended.

The Adams-Green Funeral Home, a family-owned business that is nearing its 20th anniversary with new owners next month, owners Chris and Kathryn Adams are taking things day by day.

“The biggest change has been that families are not able to have the time of healing that they need,” Chris Adams told Reston Now.

To comply with state orders, services are limited to less than 10 people. The funeral home recently began offering live services and webcasting, thanks to equipment the small business happened to purchase prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some families have opted for immediate creative services in hopes of setting a memorial service at a later date when large groups can gather to mourn and offer support.

That often means closure may be months away.

The funeral home is also operating with fewer staff in case one or more staff members get infected. Adams and other staff members conduct family briefings and one-on-one sessions with clients while wearing a fabric mask. Staff is also stepping up cleaning and infecting practices as more requests for services pour in.

“I never thought I would interact with a family like that in a mask,” he said. “And I’ve been in this business for more than 30 years.”

Adams hopes business will return to normal as the 20th anniversary of the funeral home approaches next month. He bought the business nearly 20 years ago, although it officially opened in 1885.

As guidelines and policies on social distancing and COVID-19 continue to evolve, the funeral home is taking operations on a day-by-day basis.

“We’re always hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.”

Image via Town of Herndon; Adams-Green Funeral Home

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