Texas funeral homes are being pushed to their limits much like hospitals as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads the death toll rises. Even though Green Cremation Texas and a number of other Texas funeral homes increased their freezer storage capacity and established new processes, the effort has been just enough to meet the growing demand.
Green Cremation Texas was interviewed by KVUE about the situation. Our funeral director Melissa Unfred explained how this year is different than any other one on record and what can be done to minimize the delays that families now face.
More Cremations During the Pandemic Prolong the Process
Cremations have been on the rise for years, but COVID-19 was an unexpected contributing factor for 2020. Many of the 7,200+ people who have died from the virus have been cremated.
As a result of the increase in cremations and new safety protocols, the process is taking longer than normal. It’s a change that isn’t welcome for the family members who have lost a loved one. Easing the suffering of the family is the top priority for many funeral directors like Melissa, but during the pandemic, it has become more challenging.
“What I’ve seen is from this time last year, we are at 100% over a normal caseload. About 10 to 20% of those clients are COVID-related,” Unfred told KVUE. And while Green Cremation Texas has taken measures to circumvent issues with delays and manage the increase, the crematoriums that the Texas funeral home partners with are overwhelmed. Currently, crematoriums serving Texas have a 2-week waiting time.
The issue has gotten so bad for some funeral providers they are turning away families because they have surpassed their capacity.
What’s Causing the Delays at Crematoriums
The dramatic rise in deaths in a relatively short period of time can be a strain on local service providers regardless of whether there is a pandemic. This is an unprecedented time in the funeral industry at all levels, and we’re having to adapt in real-time.
A few weeks ago, Melissa shared with KXAN that Texas funeral homes were dealing with delays getting doctors to sign off on the death certification documents. These documents are required to have a cremation. This alone extended the normal cremation process by 3-5 days.
The second issue is occurring at the crematoriums. In hard-hit areas, crematoriums are simply past their operating capacity at the moment. They are only set up to cremate so many bodies at once and cannot exceed that number. On top of that, COVID-19 protocols require extra time and resources. Some crematoriums are limiting when people who were COVID-19 positive can be cremated in order to minimize exposure.
Right now, the wait time at crematoriums once the cremation is scheduled is two weeks. That means once everything is in place to have the cremation it can still take up to two more weeks to cremate. For families that want closure, each day the process is extended makes a difference.
How Green Cremation Texas is Helping Families Through the Process During the Pandemic
Long before the pandemic ripped through Texas, our funeral home took steps to prepare for an influx from COVID-19. One of the most important precautionary measures was investing in additional refrigeration. Bodies must be preserved before cremation and viewing services, which require adequate refrigeration space. This has proven to be a very smart investment as the first delay to affect the process was getting a signed death certificate to initiate the cremation.
We’ve also taken measures to initiate the cremation without running into 2-week delays. Green Cremation Texas has been in operation for over 20 years, and in that time we have developed partnerships all over the state. Melissa and her team are currently reaching out to crematoriums in less impacted areas to expedite the process. They have reached out as far as Lubbock to better accommodate their clients.
Another unique way that Green Cremation Texas can help families is through water cremation. The demand for this new, extremely eco-friendly, cremation service isn’t as high as flame cremation. Although the process is different, the outcome is exactly the same. Choosing water cremation could mean completing the process weeks sooner.
If you have lost a loved one during the pandemic know that Green Cremation Texas is here for your family. We’re equipped to accept clients during this time and provide the fastest cremation services possible.
Give us a call 24 hours a day 7 days a week for answers to your questions or to arrange cremation services.