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COVID-19 pandemic has more people planning ahead for funerals

Local News

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — Funeral homes and cemeteries say the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way families buy burial services as now many are purchasing and planning in advance.

Sunset Memorial Funeral Home in Brownsville says the pandemic has added a sense of urgency to making funeral arrangements.

“Before we would be able to make an appointment where now people just walk in here and want to buy something now,” said Daniel Gomez, funeral director of Sunset Memorial.  

Gomez says their funeral home is the only one with a crematory in Brownsville and that many residents thought they had to cremate their loved one if they died from COVID-19.  

Though he says that added to their numbers increasing, the pandemic has overall made families start thinking ahead.  

“In a month we usually average would be about 20 to 25 cases, and on our highest month last year I believe it was December, we saw 55 cases,” said Gomez. 

Johnny Garcia, partner at Ceballos-Diaz funeral home in Edinburg, says many families are also thinking of the cost. 

“This has been an eye-opener for everybody in the sense that we need to plan ahead because we just buried a friend of ours, or a neighbor of ours and they had no money,” said Garcia.    

Garcia saw a backlog of funerals in July 2020, and while deaths have slowed down, families are still making arrangements more than before now to prevent future financial burden. 

“People are more aware of what’s going on and they just want to make sure they have something secured for their family,” said Garcia.

The Guillen Community Cemetery is an at-need Brownsville funeral service that lowered its prices to meet the demand during the pandemic. 

Many times, office manager Maria Guadalupe Guillen, says members of the same families were being buried one after another. 

“On one particular week I had a husband buried at the beginning of the week and then his wife passed on at the end of the week,” said Guillen. 

Now at Sunset Memorial, they’ve upped staff to accommodate the increase in demand. 

“We have some more personnel now where we can have somebody just walk in and say I want to have something prepared for my mom because we want to get prepared,” said Gomez.   

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