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Coronavirus In Ohio: Less Room For Grieving At Funeral Homes

Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Service in downtown Columbus.
Debbie Holmes
Schoedinger Funeral & Cremation Service in downtown Columbus.

While funeral homes across Ohio maintain their operations, services are getting adjusted due to the coronavirus outbreak.  

Mike Schoedinger, president of Schoedinger Funeral and Cremation Service, says he’s following state guidelines limiting gatherings.

“What’s changed is instead of a public visitation, public viewing, it’s now just private family gatherings, usually under 50 people, usually under 10 people,” Schoedinger says.

Schoedeinger says church closings have eliminated many normal funeral venues. Now the business is holding all services at one of their 14 locations in Central Ohio.

“For now, almost all of our services are private family gatherings at our funeral home, because the churches are closed,” says Schoedinger. “And we can livestream and bring in the public through our video systems, but we’re still being able to have the funerals and then we’re just doing private burial and private cremations.”

Coronavirus In Ohio: Live Coverage

Schoedeinger operates says his staff of 200 is taking extra precautions to be safe.

“And the more we gather, the more at risk we are that this virus can spread,” Schoedinger says. “So we’re being super diligent and how we clean our facilities, clean our doorknobs, clean our light switches, just clean everything after every couple hours to make sure that we’re doing what we can to not pass along any germs.”

While he understands the stricter rules to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Schoedinger says the procedures take away from the normal grieving process.

“Telling stories, sharing memories, that’s how we heal from the loss of a loved one and we’re not having the opportunity to do that," says Schoedinger.  "Hopefully, we can do these services at a later date maybe this summer.”

The Ohio Department of Health makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.

Ohio's coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634. More information is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.