Funerals during the COVID-19 pandemic removed for some everything that has been taught about mourning the dead. Added to the black funeral attire have been masks and perhaps vinyl gloves.


No more than 10 could attend a graveside service while others paid their respects from inside their cars.


Others watched services from their computer screen because it was the only way to honor someone who had a large host of family and friends. found a virtual funeral service or memorial the option for large groups of mourners in addition to keeping people safe from COVID-19.


Some families even opted to delay large-scale services during the pandemic.


And don’t forget no touching, no hugging or kissing.


Although some things may never go back to normal, the state did loosen some restrictions regarding funerals. As the state rolled out Phase Two of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s “Open Up And Recover Safely” plan amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it simply states funerals and weddings can resume under social distancing protocols.


Scott Holz with Stumpff Funeral Home & Crematory said COVID-19 has affected the funeral business in many ways. “There has been such an abrupt change in the way everything is done, and funerals have certainly been affected. I think that most everyone wants to do the right thing. It’s just hard to know what the right thing is these days. I don’t know yet if private services, virtual services, FaceBook Live services, and the like will become the norm, but I believe we will continue to see more and more of this, at least in the short term,” he said.


At Stumpff Funeral Home and Crematory he said they will continue to be extra attentive to cleaning and sanitizing space. Stumpff will also encourage people to maintain safe distances and people to wear face masks when visiting the funeral home, or when they are attending a service here in the chapel.


“Additionally, we will remove every other chair in our chapel for services, which will help to maintain the safe distances. Of course, many families may not be ready to have a chapel or church service yet, so I imagine that we may continue to have more private services,” he said.


“At times, there are shifts in what people want to memorialize and care for their loved one who have died. We have seen this before, with the rise in popularity of cremation. Stumpff Funeral Home was one of the first funeral homes in Oklahoma to have its own crematory, right here in Bartlesville. Our crematory was installed in 1984. Keith Stumpff saw a need and a changing of attitudes in the culture, and he responded by putting in a crematory to serve those that wanted that option. That was 35 years ago, and Stumpff Funeral Home is widely regarded as an expert in that field. This crisis will be no different, and we will respond in similar fashion – by giving the Bartlesville community the type of services they would like to remember, respect, and honor their loved ones.


“The Coronavirus has affected our business in many ways. The obvious ways are the restrictions of numbers of people allowed to attend services. Also, in many instances, the way we are interacting with the families we serve is much different. We are doing many things over the phone, such as collecting information needed to complete a death certificate, or taking care of whatever details we are able without them physically coming to the office. We are also making many arrangements via email.


“We have our casket and urn selections available online, so we can send a link out so that choice can be made in that way. Also, streaming funeral services isn’t really new, but it is certainly being done a lot more, and is a technology being used by many people for the first time. Just as many people have had to learn to work from home, attend school, shop for groceries, and have doctors appointments all online, many people have now attended a funeral via the internet as well.”


Tim Howell with Arnold Moore & Neekamp Funeral Home, said the passing through various phases has more an effect on our families and funerals.


“The big change will be when we can open up services to everyone that wants to attend. Having said that, I think some people’s concerns about their own health will keep the numbers lower than before,” he said. “We have been live-streaming through our Facebook page and now, through our website at www.honoringmemories.com and that seems to have been a viable option for funerals. We have tailored our responses to the comfort level of our families, which really has been a protocol for us, even before the outbreak of COVID-19. The No. 1 effect to the funeral business has been the number of hugs and handshakes that we cannot give, now.


“Just like the past 34 years, I think we will continue to improve how we do, what we do. But, compassion, caring and professionalism are some things that never change for us. The secret is to find out what the customer needs and then deliver. Something that hasn’t changed in 100 years of service to the community for Arnold Moore & Neekamp Funeral Home.”


Caring for the well-being of families and community is a top priority at Davis Family Funeral Home & Crematory, said Carter Davis.


“During these extraordinary times, we continue to operate and provide our needed services every day 24/7 with extra sanitation measures, extra social distancing precautions, and extra services to ensure that grieving families are cared for appropriately,” he said.


“Our Walker Brown Chapel is Bartlesville’s largest funeral home chapel with a normal capacity of 200 people, so it can comfortably afford more physical space for family members and friends to sit apart but still be together. Whether 10 or 50, we can accommodate the wishes of our families while maintaining physical distancing. Another example is when I have a conference meeting with a bigger family, we move the meeting space from a conference table to a larger living room area, so that more people can sit further apart while speaking face-to-face. If families prefer, we can also use innovative technologies to videoconference or livestream services.”


Davis said they have always strive to personalize and adapt our services to what each family needs.


“While people are still social distancing, many of our families have been choosing to have private, family-only services or delay larger life celebrations. As communities open up and more churches resume in-person services, we anticipate some of the families we serve will also be more comfortable with larger gatherings. But we will monitor public health guidance and continue to be vigilant,” he said.


“From Facebook Live to full-service virtual broadcasting, families can choose to use free or self-service technologies for livestreaming of funeral events or they can get professional AV production and broadcasting help from KWON TV or Bartlesville Radio staff for a package price.


“In addition to Walker Brown Chapel which is Bartlesville’s largest chapel with a normal capacity of 200, our Dewey Chapel which normally seats 125 has an AV setup to project the chapel service into our next-door overflow space that’s part of our Family Life Center. Our priority is to help care for grieving families and be responsive to their unique needs. “