“It is very important that the funeral sector sits at the table when planning public health”

Christine Pepper, CEO of the National Association of American Funeral Directors (NFDA) talk with Funermostra about how they have lived through the pandemic in the US and how they think the sector will change.

1. How would you summarize in a few words the answer that the sector has given to the covid-19 health crisis?

During the COVID-19 crisis, the NFDA's mission has been to ensure that members and other professionals funeral homes have the tools, the information and resources that they needed to safely care for families. We were able to fulfill that mission in various ways:

Por ejemplo, the only thing that funeral directors seemed to need more was information on how serve families safely. We kept the funeral professionals on the latest information through the COVID-19 information center on our website, social networks, mail electronic, our free publications and webinars.

Also, for over a decade, the NFDA has been working with federal agencies in planning the mass fatality management. Thanks to the relationships we have built, not only did we get information and guidance as I left agencies like CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services, but these agencies they were looking to NFDA for their expertise as they developed information and policies and adjusted their massive fatality management plans.

It should be noted that at the request of the NFDA, the Department of Homeland Security issued a guide for states they named funeral professionals as “workers of critical infrastructure”. This underscored the vital role we play. to respond to the pandemic.

We also organize a list of almost 900 volunteers who were ready to provide field assistance to funeral homes at critical points as needed and we urge officials to give funeral home professionals priority access to vaccines and testing, just as they did in 2008 during the pandemic of H1N1.

We continue to monitor all the COVID-19 related legislation in Congress to ensure that include funeral service. Por ejemplo, a stimulus bill that is being debated by Congress would grant a premium payment to essential workers, including people working in the service funeral. Another bill that Congress is considering would grant relief from student loans to essential workers, including the funeral professionals.

2. Do you think the media have reported fair way about the sector? Do you think society has fairly treated all professionals?

Much of the coverage we've seen in the United States has been fair. Describe the ways in which funeral directors strove to serve families in very difficult circumstances. Although there were some coverages that did not reach focus on the key point, but I think they are few in relation to the others.

3. Could you explain what the three conclusions would be after experiencing the Covid-19 crisis in the sector?

There are many things that we learned in the way. First, information is critical. Without accurate information and reliable based on the latest science there's no way that directors funeral homes can do their job safely.

Second, the importance of technology. Due to the need to be physically distant, the Funeral directors had to embrace technology like never before. they had done. Many saw how things like the live broadcast of a funeral or the organization of a conference via Zoom to unite the families during a difficult time.

Finalmente, the teams of personal protection were raised as a challenge for many different sectors Worldwide, including funeral service. This pandemic caused I manifest the importance that funeral homes have an adequate stock of personal protective equipment in case the supply chain stops and have alternatives outside of traditional providers focused on funeral services from which you can buy the necessary supplies.

4. What will be the changes in the sector after all this experience?

It is very important that the funeral sector sits at the table when planning public health with the national government, state and local. Considerations of how the dead can be cared for with respect and dignity should be kept in mind as governments formulate plans for man-made pandemics and natural disasters.. Funeral associations can provide significant experience to national government officials, as the NFDA has done in the United States for over a decade.

5. Do you think the memorials will come back? How will they be?

During the pandemic we heard one and again that families wanted to be together and hug after death from a loved one, but the need to be physically distant prevented them celebrate a funeral. We are optimistic, we believe that people will rediscover the importance of a funeral and how they help to heal after the death of a to be loved.

Also, we saw the relatives trust the expertise of funeral directors to guide them as they explored their options during the pandemic. We hope they come out of this experience understanding the vital role that a director of funeral in planning a good funeral service.