The pain of a coronavirus pandemic is two-sided for a black-owned funeral business. Many funeral workers mourn their colleagues who died of the virus. A neighbor who died disproportionately from Covid.
According to Hari P. Close, chairman of the National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association and operator of the Baltimore funeral hall, more than 130 black funeral directors and funeral directors have died nationwide since the outbreak of the pandemic. The true number of deaths is unknown, as the association does not officially count deaths among members. The number of black funeral staff who died in Covid is also unknown, but could be in the hundreds, Klaus said. There are about 3,300 black licensed funeral halls and funeral halls in the United States, and about 2,000 black-owned funeral halls and services.
“In the black community, funeral directors and funeral directors are often the pillars of the town,” said Crows. “But beyond that, they are friends and family, so our industry is completely devastated by this pandemic.”
For the past 18 months, US funeral and morgue workers have been at the forefront of a pandemic that has killed more than 675,000 people. Fees were particularly tough at funeral halls in the black community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Covid-19 killed almost twice as many black Americans as white Americans.
Jeffrey F. Wakefield Sr., owner of the Potato Wakefield Funeral Director in Albany, Georgia, recalls the pastor’s wobbling feet off the truck in late August and claims he can preside over the funeral that afternoon. Did. Even though I feel sick.
“His speech was obscure and very weak, and he said,’We have to serve,'” Wakefield said. “I said,’You can’t service. You have to go to the hospital.”
After a short drive to the hospital, an unvaccinated man was told he had Covid-19. Four days later he died. His family asked not to publish his name.
“He was a trusted and dedicated employee,” Wakefield said. “Lost him was devastating.”
At Ramsey Wallace Funeral Hall & Chapel in Sacramento, California, Vanessa Thomas lost count of the number of times she believed she had been in close contact with an infected person passing through the front door of a family-owned company.
Many funeral halls seek to stay safe throughout the pandemic by requiring service participants to wear masks or test negative on the Covid test. However, despite precautionary measures, some people are at risk for a long time.
“Most of our services have recently become Covid-related,” said Thomas, general manager of the funeral hall. “And it’s not just the elderly. It’s also the young.”
According to her, witnessing many deaths in the black community of Sacramento over the months is exhausting. Black residents, who make up about 11% of Sacramento County’s population, make up about 12% of the county’s deaths.
“I had a funeral for my mother and son last week and died every nine days,” said Thomas. “And we don’t even know if the mother knew that her son had died because she was already in the ICU from Covid.”
Martavius Marcus, manager of the Poteat-Wakefield funeral director, said about half of this year’s funerals were related to the coronavirus.
“There was certainly burnout and frustration,” Marcus said. “We were watching people approaching us. We were meeting our friends, our neighbors, our ministers. We were watching them die from this virus. I did. “
Mr Crows said the funeral director’s mental health was severely affected by the pandemic.
“We mourn and comfort,” he said. “We are suffering too.”