Funeral homes affected by shortage of caskets



THE Bahamas Funeral Directors Association’s president says the local funeral industry has been affected by a supply shortage in the United States.

Kirsch Ferguson told The Tribune yesterday that major distributors in the US, particularly some casket companies, discontinued business with Bahamian funeral homes due to the supply shortage and high death rate in America.

There have also been challenges with sourcing the chemicals needed for the embalming process.

“Many of the major distributors, in particular casket companies, had to first service US markets because of their death rate being so high,” he said.

“Some of the casket companies had to cut off The Bahamas completely based on the shortage they were having in the US. So, we had to source our caskets by other means, which was a challenge for us all around,” he added.

Mr Ferguson said the supply shortage also contributed to a cost increase across the board, as a result of shipping prices and other factors.

The COVID-19 pandemic contributed to a significant increase in deaths, which ultimately led to funeral home workers being overwhelmed and distressed. He explained that there was a 30 percent to 50 percent increase in deaths at the peak of the pandemic.

Following this surge in deaths, business in the industry is now considered to be “levelling” off and “manageable”, although he noted an increase in murders in the country contributing to more activity.

“Things are a bit levelling, seeing that the impact of the pandemic has been more or less streamlined with addressing infections but obviously, as you can see, there’s now an increase in homicides in this country,” he told this newspaper.

Aside from the supply shortage, Mr Ferguson assured the public that the industry is managing “fairly well” following the relaxation of the emergency orders.

“Outside of caskets and chemicals and other items, we’ve been able to manage fairly well, moving forward since things have opened up quite a bit,” Mr Ferguson told this newspaper.

“But by all means, I think every funeral home has been able to make the appropriate adjustments to be able to accommodate the human families to help their loved ones be buried properly.”

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