Michigan funeral director discusses COVID-19’s impact on the grieving process

NOW: Michigan funeral director discusses COVID-19’s impact on the grieving process

ST. JOSEPH, Mich.— Tom Starks and his family have run Starks Family Funeral Homes and Cremation Services for over six decades in southwest Michigan. 

Due to regulations regarding large group gatherings, for the time being, funeral homes can no longer accommodate large funeral services in-person.

Starks and his team are working to record services to put online for friends and family to see.  They’re also encouraging loved ones to write messages on their website to share memories with the deceased's family.

“When you lose someone, there’s a grieving process you have to go through,” Starks said. “Some families say ‘oh no, I’ll just wait until this coronavirus clears and we’ll have a service in September or October.’ The problem with that family is, that grief is still with them.”

Starks said the pandemic is delaying the grieving process and that’s why his funeral home is encouraging families to still hold smaller, private services as soon as possible after their loved one passes.

“We’ve had so many positive comments from families,” Starks said, adding that digital services are offering loved ones a chance to still honor the lives of those they’ve lost. 

The funeral home is also implementing a new service called “Hugs from Home,” which allows those not in attendance at the funeral to share support. Messages written by friends and family members online will be attached to biodegradable balloons which will fill the chapel during the family’s private viewing. 

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