I was born in 1987 so New Wave music isn’t my thing. What exactly is a Devo anyway? I have heard of some of the bands like the B52s or Blondie but acts like Adam Ant, Bow Wow Wow, or ABC? No clue.
The New Wave of 2020 stems from the Coronavirus Pandemic. After the initial wave strikes a “new wave” will come crashing in. In other words, the resurgence of infections in a different area of a population. The WHO says pandemics in the past have had "waves of activity spread over months". So what does this mean for us? Firstly COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. Secondly, we must still take precautions and not take a lull in infection rate for granted. History shows us that things will likely surge even after a decline. What it also means is that we have to take the lessons we learned from the devastating “first wave” and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.
At the start of the pandemic funeral service providers were completely caught off guard (along with other professions like emergency rooms, nursing facilities, urgent care clinics). Quantities of Personal Protective Equipment we had on-hand was inadequate and trying to resupply proved almost impossible. We saw serious hoarding and opportunists trying to cash in on the increase in demand. N95 masks, gloves, disinfectants, even hand sanitizer was nowhere to be found for weeks and weeks.
Thankfully the shortages are over but (there is always a but) we need to keep enough PPE in stock and available for the New Wave. Even if the next surge is years away, we cannot be caught without. I am not suggesting we go out and buy 500 cases of TP but maybe stocking up and buying an extra box or 2 of gloves, masks, disinfectants, etc. would be a great idea.
One of the other big surprises was the lack of storage capacity, especially in the early hot spots. Many firms underestimated the sheer volume of bodies coming into their care. Compound this with some businesses refusing to take in COVID victims. (Seriously? Shame!) This situation could have been solved so easily with a small mortuary cooler or small walk-in mortuary cooler with a custom racking system. The investment for a mortuary cooler is minimal and costs far less than the risk of getting caught off guard. We have to have a plan for this New Wave or something that may come in the future even worse. Bodies cannot be stored on a floor or on top of another body. It is inappropriate and disrespectful. Your cooler may not be needed much during normal operation, but you’ll be glad you have it when you do need it.
Creative Memorial Services/Embracing Technology
It always seems odd to me that funeral service has been slow to embrace technology. I mean no disrespect or judgment here but come on, implementing and embracing modern technology will no nothing but improve your business’s operational efficiency leading to improved service, which means more families through the door (or online!), elevating not only your revenue (cremation did not kill the funeral!) but the perception of funeral service in the eyes of the public. Why drive a Model T Ford when you can drive a modern car that can go faster, use less fuel, and be far more comfortable for the passengers? Before computer accounting (or so I’ve heard) books were kept manually in green ledgers. No one does it that way anymore. At the very least we have spreadsheets! I asked an “old school” funeral director why she still had a fax machine and she said, “not everyone has email.” True, but I would submit that one could have access to email far easier than finding a fax machine. Not to mention online web fax services. Before I even get started oh flip phones let’s move over to talking about the positive effect (silver lining) of this pandemic.
COVID-19 has dragged funeral service (kicking and screaming) into the 21st Century—finally. We have had to come up with some creative ways to serve families such as Zoom funerals, webcasting, web-based contracts, and e-signatures, texting as a valid means of communication, online arrangements, and the list goes on and on. Those that didn’t embrace are either shuttered and won’t be able to come back or they are hanging on by a string. The pandemic has taught us that traditions change and that even funeral service must evolve (but that doesn’t mean people won’t spend money on funeral services they find valuable!). The days of “I know what’s best for MY families!” are long since gone. This creative spirit needs to go on long after the pandemic ends, including non-tech innovations that can elevate the value of funeral service in the eyes of the public.
COVID has brought out the best in funeral service but it has not been easy. The job of caring for the dead and their living loved ones is not for the faint of heart under normal circumstances so it is no surprise to see the cream rise to the top during a crisis. I have witnessed heroic efforts from funeral service practitioners taking care of their families. But we cannot stop now. We must get ready for the New Wave even if it doesn’t end up coming. Eventually, it will.
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