Kelowna’s Springfield Funeral Home is still open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)

Kelowna’s Springfield Funeral Home is still open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)

Bereaved facing ‘double loss’ amid pandemic: Kelowna funeral home owner

‘Distancing is problematic for people who need a hug’

A double-loss.

That’s how a Kelowna funeral home owner describes the grieving process through the COVID-19 pandemic — as families lose not only their loved ones but the opportunity to console their fellow bereaved.

“It’s not just the very real experience of a loved one dying — which is a very profound loss unto itself — but it’s also the loss of the freedom to engage that meaningfully or in a way that would be familiar,” said Richard Henseleit, owner of Springfield Funeral Home.

“Distancing is problematic for people who need a hug; people who need to shed a tear with each other.”

As the pandemic continues, the goal at Springfield is to retain as much normalcy as possible for families burdened with burying a loved one through an already trying time, while still ensuring measures are being taken to protect both themselves and their guests. One way the home is doing that is through live-streamed funeral services.

“It creates such a different caring environment,” said Henseleit. “We’re finding that many people respond to that favourably.”

David (left) and Richard (right) Henseleit, owners of Springfield Funeral Home. (Michael Rodriguez – Kelowna Capital News)

While in-person services have been limited to just 20 to 30 people to allow for proper distancing, Henseleit said both graveside and chapel services have been made available online. “Words can be said; condolences shared,” he said.

“We’re trying to make this easy for people and that’s one way that we’re helping to accommodate their loss of freedom to connect.”

He added the home’s website has become a meaningful place for families to not just post obituaries but share stories, upload pictures and produce video tributes.

“I’m finding that Canadians, British Columbians and even the wonderful people of the Interior here are all attentive to being safe, being smart and realizing that there’s a togetherness here that, though different, is still available,” said Henseleit.

“People are finding creative ways to connect.”

For Henseleit, it’s still first and foremost about helping people through a tough time — even though the means to do so have changed.

“There’s nothing different,” he said. “It’s important that people feel a sense of care at a time like this.”

READ MORE: Death looks different in a pandemic: B.C. bereavement workers, religious leaders taking new measures

READ MORE: Longterm care facility deaths expected to rise even as cases slow, Dr. Tam says

‘Exposed to communicable diseases on a daily basis’

Bereavement workers are facing their own struggles in the face of COVID-19.

The most prevalent of which has become access to supplies.

“We do share with other health professionals the potential for concern on long-term access to critical supplies we use for personal protective equipment (PPE),” said Andy Watson, manager of strategic communications at the BC Coroners Service, in an emailed statement. “We continue to urge the public only to buy what they require, to ensure professionals in the health and safety sector are able to access supplies to safely do their work in health and public safety.”

Mass sell-outs of items such as hand sanitizers, masks and gloves have made it difficult for health-care and bereavement workers to access the materials they need to do their jobs.

This is also seen at funeral homes where workers must wear gowns, gloves, masks, face shields, headcovers and disposable slippers while preparing a body for a service.

“We are exposed to communicable diseases on a daily basis; we don’t always know what underlying causes there are to any death that occurs so we’re always using universal precautions,” explained Charlotte Poncelet, executive director of the BC Funeral Association (BCFA). “But the big thing for us is we have not yet been deemed a ‘critical service,’ so we have very extreme concerns about our access to resources like personal protective equipment.”

– With files from Nicole Crescenzi


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Armstrong’s Jesse Crowe, shown at the home of golf, St. Andrew’s in Scotland, has been named the Royal York Golf Course’s director of golf operations. (Facebook photo)
Armstrong golf pro soars to home course position

Jesse Crowe becomes director of golf operations at Royal York Golf Course

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
Despite additional death, COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional loss in last day

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

Two North Okanagan-Shuswap rural communities, including Lumby, will receive B.C. government grants to support new jobs and economic opportunities to help them recover from the impacts of COVID-19. (Black Press file photo)
North Okanagan-Shuswap communities collect government grants

Lumby and Blind Bay to benefit to help recover from economic impact of COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

The dam at Thirsk Lake, west of Summerland, was expanded in 2007. A crack has now been discovered where the old and new portions of the dam meet. (Summerland Review file photo)
Crack at Thirsk Dam to be examined

Reservoir west of Summerland was expanded in 2007

(Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. residents can reserve provincial camp sites starting March 8

B.C. residents get priority access to camping reservations in province

The Penticton Speedway has been sold but the investment group who bought it is planning to create an enhanced racetrack and racing experience. (File photo)
Penticton Speedway sold and will remain a racetrack

Investment group that includes founder of Area 27 intends to buy the Speedway

Most Read