Service of Who Would Have Thought

June 11th, 2020

Categories: Funeral, Pandemic, Restrictions, Social Distancing


Facts can tell an unexpected story.  Some balk at facing them while others are surprised by them.

Who’d have thought that the incidence of coronavirus infection would ever be lower in New York City than in other parts of the country or that in spite of the unfortunate dramatic increase in customers that the funeral business would be unprofitable?

Even though we’re sick of wearing masks and social distancing the facts suggest we must and that even though more and more states are loosening their restrictions on businesses, we’ve not yet closed the door on the virus.

Is Anyone Listening? Don’t Spoil it Now


The threat of Covid-19 isn’t nearly over but too many people in my neighborhood, three days after NYC opened just a crack in Phase 1, act as though it is. I’m unhappily surprised.

I was in awe, in the thick of it, at how many New Yorkers followed recommendations of the CDC. Most wore masks and kept their distance for months. We are told that’s why we are in such good shape earlier than hoped for.

The sudden behavior reversal I witnessed isn’t promising based on other states that have loosened their pandemic belts. Oliver Milman wrote on June 9 in The Guardian: “A total of 14 states and the US territory of Puerto Rico have recorded their worst week yet for new coronavirus infections, with Texas hitting a record high in Covid-19 hospitalizations, all while restrictions to curb the pandemic are being relaxed across America.

“According to data tracked by the Washington Post, since the start of June……..the states are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.”

The Governor of Arizona, a state that Milman reported showed “one of the largest jumps in the country,” attributed it to more testing.

He wrote: “As states in the north-east experience drops in new cases, states across the south and California are seeing increases even as they loosen social distancing rules designed to prevent person-to-person transmission of the virus.”


Kids will be kids is no longer acceptable when the outcome is potentially deadly. “Point Pleasant Beach was ‘treated like an absolute toilet,’ mayor says after thousands gather for pop-up party” Anthony G. Attrino wrote on “Mayor Paul Kanitra took to Facebook on Wednesday and said the youthful partiers left ‘trash everywhere,’ drank alcohol and smoked marijuana in public, changed clothes in residents’ yards and were seen ‘urinating in bushes.’” On WOR 710 radio this morning the Mayor said that masks were not part of the scene. In 14 days we’ll see the result.

Too Much Business Doesn’t Translate to Profits

In light of brisk business due to Covid-19 deaths alone you’d think that funeral parlors would be doing very well. Because cremation–which costs less than a burial at graveside–and the elimination of wakes during the pandemic, the opposite is true.

Barbara Kemmis, executive director of the Cremation Association of North America told USA Today:  “More people are choosing cremation because they can’t have a funeral.” Kemmis told Bloomberg News: ” The rate of cremations now may be as high as 80% in some parts of the country where they’ve historically been less than 50%.

Jef Feeley of Bloomberg News wrote: “The viciousness of covid-19, with the U.S. death toll topping 100,000, is upending cherished traditions in the $16.3 billion funeral industry. Services where hundreds once mourned now offer a sad tableau of 10 family members at a grave site or cremation mausoleum. Satin-lined caskets carrying price tags of $10,000 or more are replaced by $300 cremation urns ordered online. Drive-by and video viewings are required in these socially distanced times.”

Feeley wrote: “Another drain on funeral-home resources is the need to provide masks, heavy gloves and protective clothing for workers handling bodies.”

Because businesses are opening up do people you know act as though we’ve seen the last of Covid-19?  In spite of recommendations by doctors, have citizens in your city or town become lax in social distancing and wearing masks? Were you surprised that the funeral industry, with the dramatic uptick in business, has taken such a financial hit?



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3 Responses to “Service of Who Would Have Thought”

  1. Lucille Grippo Said:

    A very timely post as I have been thinking the same thing. I feel lifting of some restrictions coupled with warmer weather have folks thinking we are living back in the summer of 2019.

    I’ve seen some older folks having a full on conversation with no masks less than the 6 feet distance. I wonder if blindness or just entitlement have some coming into the grocery store with no face covering as if to dare the managers to challenge them. (I scurried away as soon as I saw them with no mask so don’t know the outcome.)

    The best example I witnessed was the other day. A neighbor is on the board of our community and is part of the “pool committee. “.She Mentioned they are seeking ways to open the pool prior to Governor Cuomo’s phase 4 plan. Mind you every town lake surrounding me in Dutchess county is not opening for the summer. Despite the loss in income and camps for children to attend while parents work, the town recognized that it would be difficult to social distance along with the uncertainty of the Covid spikes. I question those on the committee if they have been living in NY the past 3 months. And do they realize the Board of Health has the final say?

    Closer to home we have relatives who got stuck in Florida since March 6th. They are flying home through JFK airport and don’t understand why they have to quarantine for 14 days. Similarly, a friend’s sister is coming in from Texas to visit for 9 days. How does that work when the directives say to quarantine for 14 days when coming from other states?

    I never gave it a thought about funeral home profits but makes perfect sense. The costs associated with a casket, makeup, viewing etc. all lead to big bucks. I can only imagine the losses in the flower industry with lack of funerals and weddings.

    Enough of my venting!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    A NYC metro area radio a.m. co-show host had a whiny tantrum on Friday. He’d had enough of masks! He had enough of the government telling him what to do. He was sick of sheltering at home. He left his mask at home, he said, and even though the little stores in his [high end] Manhattan neighborhood all say you can’t enter without a mask he did so and nobody stopped him.

    If he was in my neighborhood and I saw him without a mask in a store I would call the manager meanwhile I’d order his arrogant, selfish self out while I was in there. If he didn’t leave, I would. There’s an amazing fish store on 57th Street off First Avenue with fabulous sauces and soups as well. They permit one person at a time–no more than a couple–and are strict about it. You wait your turn on the street. Someone took my order while I waited to go in and I was on my way in a jiffy. A store like this that abides by the rules is surely a safe one where cleanliness is concerned.

    It is so scary that people of all ages–your example–don’t get that just because local governments feel it’s safe to move to the next level of normalcy it means we can, as you wrote, “pretend it is June 2019.” I see little children trotting down the street with their parents wearing masks and not fussing. If they can do it, so can everyone else or they can stay home.

    If we are not careful about following quarantine recommendations, wearing masks, keeping our social distance and hand washing, we will end up where we were well before the anticipated reemergence of the virus in fall. Having to go back to scratch again will be tragic because I suspect the population won’t be as good as it has been.

  3. Martha Takayama Said:

    Who would have thought that a supposed first world country with what are considered some of the best hospitals in the world would not come to terms with the mortal threat and scientific enigma of a pandemic whose arrival had been the subject of longtime speculation and study.

    Who would have thought that we would flail and flounder with a non-functional antediluvian Federal government with breeders of labradoodles in high level positions in Health and Human Services, an understaffed and partially sabotaged Center for Disease Control and a bunch of governors and mayors trying to deal with matters that should not have been their sole responsibility.

    Who would have thought that people after our country surpassed a mortality rate of 100,000 souls would rush to crowd onto beaches, huddle in bars, with plenty of counter length to spread out, seek out restaurants as if deprived of food, and worst of all throw crowded messy parties leaving trash helter skelter?

    Who would have thought that wearing a mask to protect others and oneself, even where still mandated, although not always subject to punishment, would be just too much for the young and not so young?
    I actually thought that despite the limitations on funerals that business was flourishing because it could not keep up with demand for burial. Who would have thought that we would continue to fail so miserably as a country to act in accordance with the reality of a disease that will only continue to worsen in the foreseeable future?

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