Some families have opted to wait to hold memorial services

Families grieving for the loss of loved ones may have had added stress the past two months with restrictions due to COVID-19. But they have been understanding of the statewide restrictions on funeral homes, which have only allowed 10 people per room at funeral services and visitations, county funeral home directors Darin Rapp and Stu Sprick said.

"Things have been going fairly smooth," said Rapp, director and manager of Campbell-Aman Funeral Home in Blair. "Families have been understanding of the rules we have to abide by."

On Monday, the 10-person limit was raised to 25 as new Directed Health Measures (DHM) have relaxed restrictions on funeral homes statewide. DHM restrictions limit funeral homes to the greater of 25 people or 50 percent capacity and there must be 6 feet separation between different parties.

"It's a great thing for families to have a few more people," Rapp said. "With some of the services (we've been) missing grandkids … It's tough to have everyone as a family when you can only have 10."

Sprick, director of Sievers-Sprick Funeral Home in Fort Calhoun, said some families continued having private services under the 10-person rule, while some families opted to wait until restrictions were lifted.

"Whether it be a cremation or a body that's already been buried, they can wait until they lift that 10-person rule," Sprick said. "I think some may choose to go ahead with a visitation with the (June 1) rules. I expect some may wait until it's fully lifted."

For families that have opted to have services under the 10-person rules, Sprick said the funeral home has offered video services, which can be watched through a link on Sievers-Sprick's website. He said some out-of-state family members have been able to watch services live or at a later time.

"We've had some private family services, and some families are thinking later they'd like to have some type of celebration," he said, adding those celebrations come down to what families want, but could be "full-fledged memorial services" in churches.

Campbell-Aman has also offered video services for out-of-state family members or family members unable to attend services due to restrictions. Rapp said the funeral home has had private video services where a link is to sent to family members, public services with video on platforms like Facebook and recorded services sent by DVD to families.

"Each family wants something a little bit different privacy wise," he said.

Online video platforms have also been used to help families make arrangements, Rapp said, which is the case even without restrictions since family members making arrangements may be out of state.

"We've given people options doing as much as we can," he said. "We've talked over the telephone, or some type of platform whether that’s Webex, Skype or Zoom."

Rapp said under the new restrictions, Campbell-Aman will still be mindful of the number of people attending services while providing the best service it can under the new DHM.

"We're going to accommodate for our room size here, same thing with churches," he said.

Sprick said families are welcome to call with any questions about arrangements and guidelines, and they have continued to be understanding of the rules set in place, recognizing that no one can change the circumstances surrounding them.

"We're all dealing with the rules and guidelines," he said. "Nobody can change that, so families have been understanding … We're looking forward to the day that those (restrictions) are lifted, but everybody seems to be dealing pretty well with the rules that have been in place."

Rapp agreed.

"These are times people get to see the impact of a loved one's life," he said. "Right now, it's difficult to do that."

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