By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas Funeral Directors Association's (BFDA) president yesterday branded last Friday a "hot mess" after the latest COVID-19 restrictions forced families to rush forward their loved one's burial.
Kirsch Ferguson told Tribune Business: “Friday was a hot mess because come this week we are back now to graveside services, so persons who had funerals this week had to push up to Friday of last week just to avoid the new measures.
"Outside of the funerals being halted, we had florists and taxi drivers who had to change plans. Our printers were in high gear in having to get things out for Friday. So everything was in a mode of acceleration trying to ensure families were served.”
While funeral homes were unlikely to have suffered a major financial setback from this, Mr Ferguson added: “The only thing that we advised families was if limousines are not necessary, because you are having a graveside, then don’t get them.
"The programmes have been reduced significantly because there is no need for an abundance for them. A traditional family would normally get 200 booklets and now they are only getting 50. They are making a decision to get a reduced amount.”
He continued: “Based on the challenges we are faced with, we are doing it for the families we serve. We are met with restrictions but we are trying to accommodate them as best we can. Families are now approaching us with limited financial resources, due to insurance policies having collapsed or people have lost jobs, so it is balancing act with referrals dealing with this pandemic.”
"A lot of funerals are posted in the paper for services, because funeral homes have been bending over backwards to accommodate families in this time of crisis."
The reimposed COVID-19 measures for New Providence limit funerals to grave side services or internments only, with a maximum of ten attendees present outside of those officiating and mortuary workers.
Mr Ferguson said: “Graveside is difficult because we are challenged with finding persons to carry the casket from the hearse to the graveside. A lot of these families are dominated by women and we are not going to get a woman to lift a casket in these times.”
Denalee Penn, managing director of Evergreen Mortuary, said: “I have no comment other than people are frustrated, fed up and fatigued with these inconsistencies on the part of the Competent Authority. He [Dr Hubert Minnis] has no plans for the Bahamian people as we go through this pandemic.”