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'It's a challenging time for people faced with that grief'

Hank Hayes • May 10, 2020 at 1:15 PM

KINGSPORT — Imagine for a minute what families who have lost loved ones have to go through during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During this COVID crisis, life and death have gone on,” said Hamlett-Dobson President Chad Correll. “We’re seeing less flowers delivered. We’ve had fewer phone calls to the funeral home. We’ve had less traffic. The community is respecting the orders. It’s a challenging time for people faced with that grief.”

The pandemic has reduced the funeral home’s hours and ways of holding visitation and services. Cleanings have increased.

“Due to the governor’s first executive order, we were limited to mainly 10 (funeral) participants,” Correll explained. “That would limit it to family members only to where we would do a small family service at the funeral home and then move to the cemetery for burial. The cemeteries have restrictions, or they wouldn’t let you gather at the gravesite.

“You couldn’t have a traditional visitation. You couldn’t really have a traditional funeral, and you couldn’t have a traditional graveside (service).”

Family members, said Correll, have to adhere to social distancing inside the funeral home.

Hamlett-Dobson, as an alternative, has webcast some services through its website.

After May 15, the hope is the governor’s order will loosen and more family members will be allowed to attend in person.

“My hopes are the governor will allow gatherings of people other than just family,” Correll said. “Not a lot of closure is being done yet with folks. Many people do intend to have a larger celebration of life service once the ban is lifted. What folks are dealing with is an unprecedented time. What helps people get through grief is the community support that they are all currently denied.”

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