Posted: May 1, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an unprecedented impact on our daily lives and your ability to serve families in the way in which you – and they – are accustomed.
Early on, NFDA began preparing for the possibility that the COVID-19 pandemic might grow worse before it gets better – particularly in "hot spots" rates of infection and death climbed rapidly. We wanted to be prepared and ready to act as needs emerged.
We are grateful to the nearly 900 funeral directors, apprentices and students who stepped forth to volunteer. Of these, we were able to call up nearly 600 to serve:
- New York
- On April 8, the names of 8 licensed funeral directors from the state of New York were provided to the New York State Funeral Directors Association (NYSFDA), which is managing requests for assistance from funeral homes in the New York City area.
- On April 11, the names of 113 additional licensed funeral directors (from outside of the state of New York) were sent to NYSFDA.
- On April 9, the names of 115 students and apprentices were sent to the New York City Office of Emergency Management (OEM) to help hospitals ensure decedents in their custody are treated respectfully until funeral homes conduct transfers.
- On April 16, the names of 112 students and apprentices were provided to the New York City OEM to assist with caring for decedents in the custody of hospitals
- New Jersey
- On April 10, the names of 23 volunteers – 16 licensed funeral directors from New Jersey and 7 students and apprentices – were forwarded to the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association, which is managing requests for assistance from funeral homes.
- On April 10, NFDA sent the names of 15 licensed funeral directors from the state if Michigan to the Michigan Funeral Directors Association (MFDA), which is managing requests for help from funeral homes.
- On April 17, the names of 30 funeral directors were given to MFDA, which is working with the Community Health Emergency Coordination Center and the Michigan Emergency Operations Center. These volunteers will work to ensure decedents are safely and respectfully transferred from hospitals to temporary sheltering facilities.
- North Carolina
- On April 16, the names of 76 students and apprentices were sent to the North Carolina Office of Emergency Management. These volunteers will work to ensure decedents are safely and respectfully transferred from hospitals to temporary sheltering facilities.
- Washington, D.C.
- On April 27, the names of 10 funeral directors and students were sent to the D.C. medical examiner’s office; these names will be shared with the D.C. Medical Reserve Corps/District of Columbia Department of Health.
We are grateful that so many volunteers have stepped forward to help their colleagues in need. This speaks to the kindness and generosity of funeral professionals. Please know we are working as quickly as we can to deploy volunteers to areas in need. While we wish it were as easy as NFDA going in and setting up an operation on the ground, we have to respect the authority of state and local emergency management officials and the work of funeral homes in that city. We want to be good partners with them as they work to care for the dead and serve families.
NFDA is in regular contact with state funeral directors’ associations regarding their need for volunteers to help funeral homes in cities experiencing high rates of death due to the pandemic. Federal, state and local government agencies have also reached out to NFDA about needs they have for volunteers. NFDA is working in conjunction with these entities to place volunteers based on factors such as how well their experience matches specific needs and how far they are willing to travel.
Knowing that state associations and government agencies are very busy responding to the pandemic, NFDA always offers to manage the volunteer placement process from start to finish.
However, all entities that NFDA has worked with, thus far, have chosen to work directly with the volunteers to manage placements. Therefore, NFDA has been sending the names of volunteers to state associations and government agencies that have requested assistance.
There is sometimes a delay between when a volunteer is notified that their name has been shared and when the state association or government agency contacts them. Reasons could include: (1) the volunteer’s name was shared with a funeral home, but the owner has been so busy that they have not yet been able to reach out; (2) the state association or government agency managing volunteers may still be working through that list of names and determining placements; or (3) the government agency is gathering names in anticipation of an actual need.
We ask our volunteers to please be patient as NFDA and its partners at state associations and government agencies work through this process of placing funeral professionals.
Other Ways You Can Help
For those who are unable to volunteer, they can support response efforts through a gift to the Funeral Service Foundation’s COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund. The fund has two pillars of support: emergency assistance and grief support. Designed to be flexible, the fund will provide grants for immediate needs within funeral service including emergency response to significant loss of life; grants to organizations providing services and resources to families with unresolved and complicated grief due to loss during this crisis; and grants for other important needs as funeral service continues to serve families during this rapidly evolving crisis. For more information about the fund, to make a contribution or to apply for a grant, visit www.funeralservicefoundation.org.