COVID death increase causes cremation backlogs

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 6:46 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - As COVID-19 deaths continue to surge, making arrangements for loved ones has become a more time-consuming process.

One funeral home in Waco says its staff is feeling the pressure as the volume of work is nearly overwhelming.

The issue is the number of people who need services, both burial and cremations, especially when it comes to cremating loved ones.

The process can now take a few extra days and in extreme cases, extra weeks.

“The last two years have been very challenging, with the pandemic,” Brent Shehorn, owner and lead director of Lake Shore Funeral Home, said. “More so, recently with the high case volume.”

Cremation backlogs are also, in part, because of required waiting periods, document certifications and permission from certain family members.

Most funeral homes in the area also have to use a third-party service for cremations, which adds extra time. But, at Lake Shore, where there is an in-house crematorium, the wait is still longer than usual.

And it is taking its toll on the staff.

“We’re working, probably an average of 15-hour days, every day,” Shehorn said.

It is not just funeral homes in Central Texas dealing with these issues.

KWTX News10 reached out to nearly a dozen other funeral homes. Most confirmed dealing with the same issues, especially with cremations.

But many were too busy to give an on-camera interview.

“It is a statewide issue, and in other associates that I know throughout the country I think the story is very similar.”

And at Lake Shore, there is understanding from most of the families who notice the struggle.

“Even so where, we’re the ones that (are) supposed to be blessing them. In turn, they’re blessing us with gifts, praying for us, where in turn we should be praying for them.”

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