Forbes correspondent Aishwarya NK in an exclusive story “A day in the life of an undertaker during Covid-19” covered how undertakers had helped to give a dignified farewell to the victims. She also interacted with Shruthi Reddy, our founder of Anthyesti, where she explained how our team worked in these turbulent times to give a well-deserved farewell to the deceased while adhering to social distancing norms. This piece of writing is an overview of the story covered.
The coronavirus pandemic brought changes in the lives of the undertakers as well. Conducting funerals became different and more complex. While some added a see-through lid so that the deceased’s family could catch a final glimpse of their loved one, some others arranged funerals online.
Those who succumbed to the Covid 19 did get a dignified farewell. Thanks to the quick adaptation in funeral services by the funeral service provider. They had to change strategies in the midst of isolation and restricted access. Initially, the undertakers were not given access to dead bodies. But as the number of deaths increased, the authorities permitted to perform burials of those who died due to the coronavirus.
Anthyesti created special Covid taskforces wherein staff members volunteered to help with the Covid funerals. However, many undertakers were also facing a staff shortage since many had left for home without notice. And usually, in family undertakings, family members did partake the responsibility. With the number of deaths increasing and staff crisis, it became difficult to carry on with the burial and funeral processes.
The rise in the cost of medical equipment further aggravated the problem. Prices of protective gear, PPE kits, sanitizers, gloves, etc., hugely increased and, in some cities, jumped up to three times their original price. At the same time, families would ask for funeral concessions. People lost their jobs, and some had no money at all for funerals. In such cases, many undertakers had to conduct funeral services free of cost.
Despite the challenges, the focus remained on helping people without looking at the monetary benefits. Each day posed a challenge, and they had to adapt to the ever-changing situation. As people had to maintain distance and stay apart, the undertaking industry too had to make changes in the way they conducted funerals. While some made transparent lids on coffins for the services, some others used fiberglass on the top of coffins so as to give a glimpse of the deceased to their family members.
They also had to depend on technology to ensure a safe and smooth service. All communications and funeral arrangements were made online. Since many near and dear ones of the deceased could not attend formal funerals, undertakers facilitated live-streamed funerals so that the families of the deceased could attend the funeral virtually.
Another aspect of the undertaking is to console the bereaved family. Before the pandemic, undertakers would not just deal with the dead body but also would meet and help the grieving family come out of this. Now that they had to follow strict rules, they could no longer serve their clients in this aspect.
Shruthi Reddy explained how Anthyesti would send special team to the hospitals. They would collect the dead bodies without coming into physical contact with any family member. And then organize the burial or cremation by following all the rules of social distancing.
Through these challenging times, undertakers did their best to give the departed and the grieving families their due respect and concern. And make the process of death and grief hassle-free for them.