COVID-19 has killed nearly 100,000 Americans. And each one of them had people who loved them. They had family and friends who’ll mourn their passing. But, unfortunately, safety measures like social distancing and stay-at-home orders have complicated an already difficult situation.
Remembrance gatherings — and preparations for them — look much different than what people are used to.
The outbreak has also upended how end-of-life workers — like morticians and funeral directors — do their jobs. Several of these workers are adjusting to the challenges and helping families grieve.
If you ask Caodan Tran to list the heroes of the coronavirus pandemic, she won’t start with doctors or even grocery store cashiers.
“You know people have been talking about ‘Oh! Frontline workers and this [and that].’ And it’s like no one ever mentions mortuary, cemetery, cremation workers,” she said. “But I’m like ‘People die every single day, like, all the time.’ You know? This has to be handled. And they’re the ones doing the things that no one wants to do.”
Tran is the founder of a Dallas-based discussion group called Life and Death Forum. Up until April — when she was laid off — Tran also worked in sales for the funeral industry, and it was there that she developed a deep respect for the people she worked alongside.
“It takes a lot to wake up in the middle of the night, go pick up their body, take them back and then embalm them and do all of those things,” explained Tran. “Then you have to meet with the family. So that is truly a service.”