How the Pandemic Has Impacted the Death Care Industry

In less than a year, it feels like COVID-19 has touched every industry in a measurable way. One of the industries that has been most impacted is the death care industry. Funeral homes and other death care industry businesses have had profound changes occur amidst the pandemic, from adjusting the volume that they can handle to implementing precautions to avoid the post-mortem spread of COVID-19.

The Hazards of the Pandemic in the Death Care Industry

Morticians and other funeral home workers directly handle remains that could contain COVID-19, so many death care industry businesses have implemented strict PPE and containment practices. Beyond handling and processing remains, morticians also have risky duties when it comes to meeting with families to make arrangements, collecting remains from nursing homes and other care facilities and interacting with health care professionals. For example, entering a nursing home where someone has passed from COVID-19 could mean being exposed to dozens of other individuals who could have or do have COVID-19.

The Financial Impact on the Death Care Industry

While some funeral homes and morticians are working overtime to handle the flood of COVID patients, many families are not having traditional funerals. Cremations are the preferred option for most families, and others are skipping the burial and more expensive burial packages due to social distancing orders. Some death care industry businesses are busier than ever but also struggling to get the profit that they would during an average year. In the past, cremation has only accounted for 10% of death care industry revenue, and they cost approximately 5-10% of what a traditional funeral service with a casket, burial and memorial cost.

How Will COVID-19 Shape the Death Care Industry?

While some trends are expected to be more temporary, like the lack of a traditional memorial service and casket, the financial impacts of the pandemic will be felt for years to come. Those who have not performed a significant number of cremations in the past may adapt to make them a regular part of their business and add additional chambers. It’s likely too soon to determine whether or not today’s trends towards cremation and inexpensive funerals will become the norm in the death care industry.

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