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Less restrictions mean more options for mourners

Funeral homes have had to make heartbreaking decisions since the pandemic started
Posted at 4:15 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 16:29:03-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  — The easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan are coming as a relief for bars, restaurants, and indoor businesses but it’s a little more bittersweet for funeral homes.

RELATED: State lifts capacity limits on outdoor gatherings on June 1, increases indoor limits to 50%

By-and-large most homes are happy to be able to open up services to more mourners, but it also highlights the fact that families are still losing members to the virus, even if they can grieve now with a little more normalcy.

“It’s one of the first things people ask when they call is, ‘Well how many people can I have at the funeral,” says Abby Murphy, a family services specialist with Ofield Funeral Home in Grand Rapids. “You’re taking the hardest thing that somebody will go through in their life and making it even harder.”

Now, indoor events can reach as high as 50% capacity and funeral services are included in that. While capacity limits were lower, Ofield accommodated larger groups outside when they could, holding ceremonies in parks and at local churches.

“It’s been hard to tell them that they can’t gather or have to do something non-traditional if that’s what they were looking for,” said Josh Gatiss, funeral director at Ofield. “With 15 siblings, which 5 do we say can’t come to dad’s funeral?”

With capacity limits finally increased on Tuesday, Ofield is looking forward – as much as they can – to giving their families more options to mourn.

“It’s just going to be one more step in the right direction,” said Murphy.

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