Covid-19

Dundalk undertaker: ‘We’re trying our best, this is completely different to what we’re used to’

Covid-19

Megan Grimes

Reporter:

Megan Grimes

Dundalk undertaker: ‘We’re trying our best, this is completely different to what we’re used to’

Dundalk undertaker: ‘We’re trying our best, this is completely different to what we’re used to’

The ongoing restrictions due to Covid-19 are creating incredibly difficult circumstances for grieving families and undertakers, according to the director of a Dundalk funeral service business.

The COVID-19 crisis has brought many challenges within daily life, but one of the hardest impacts of the pandemic is the restrictions regarding a funeral service for a loved one. 

Measures have included the limiting of presenting the deceased, to drastically decreasing the number of family members allowed to be present at such an emotional time. 

Funeral services, according to Tony Shevlin of Shevlin’s Funeral Home in Dundalk, are “so much more complicated at this time”.

“We’re trying our best, this is completely different to what we’re used to,” he says.

These measures have to be taken by undertakers present for the safety of themselves and also the family members in line with social distancing measures laid out by the government.

This involves the use of protective clothing and masks throughout the funeral process, before and after the service. 

“People get scared when they see us”, says Tony, “it’s terrifying people, but we are a small family company and if one of us gets it, we would have to close, which would put pressure on the other local undertakers.”

Families have been finding it difficult to adjust to the new restrictions, explains the local undertaker, with only 10 people allowed to attend the funeral service for the safety of everyone involved. 

“There have been so many changes in the past two weeks, explaining the process when speaking to the families, but they do listen to the new guidelines”. 

The new guidelines have changed the usual community gathering and spirit that is present at many funeral services.

Speaking to the Democrat, Gerard Quinn of Quinn Funeral Homes, added: “What we do in relation to honouring a life is so much based on community support and sharing, this present situation is the antithesis of that which the Irish are celebrated for. 

“The current restrictions are curtailing the traditional wake and ceremonies, with many families seeking alternative methods to celebrate the life of someone who was central to their lives.”

Family members have been impacted by the restrictive spacing guidelines and in regards to the burial process, Tony Shevlin explained that funeral transportation with numerous cars has had to cease operation with no more than “two people allowed into the one car with the undertaking staff”, again for the safety of all parties involved. 

In relation to funeral masses, Tony feels, however, that it is important to acknowledge the hard work of the members of local clergies in adjusting to the current guidelines set out by the government. 

“The clergy are going out of their way in a very difficult situation. There is serious pressure on younger priests as older people are being encouraged to cocoon at this time.”