Many funerals postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19

As Washington state continues to combat the spread of COVID-19, those saying goodbye to loved ones are having to do so under strict guidelines.

"It's not that we can't have a ceremony, we're just going to have to change how that looks and who is allowed to attend and the number of people," says Russ Weeks, president of Weeks Family Funeral Homes.

Washington state currently prohibits gatherings of 50 or more people, and smaller gatherings are only allowed if social distancing and sanitation guidelines are followed. Weeks says trying to implement those rules at a funeral is as hard as you can imagine.

"That’s why we went to a smaller limit, because when we were having 50, as hard we as tried, we couldn’t keep people from hugging and kissing each other and just being there to support one another, lot of tissues, lot of runny noses, a lot of those things - which is good, which is healthy, but not when there is a virus and an epidemic."

All four of the Weeks Family Funeral Home locations are now only allowing services for 10 people or less.

"Most of the people we’re working with are going ahead with either cremation or burial with a very small gathering and planning to hold a larger memorial service later after things return to normal, whenever that is."

Kathy and Kent Mayfield have had two losses in their family earlier this month. After Kent's mother passed, her memorial had to postponed.

"They had it set up, it was all ready to happen, but most of the people are over 60 that were gonna come," says Kent.

Tomorrow, Kathy's brother, who passed last week, will be buried with only Kathy and Kent present.

"The biggest thing is that my 95-year-old mother is just devastated she can’t be there tomorrow," says Kathy.

They plan to hold a memorial for both loved ones as soon as they can. The Mayfields say while it's been painful and difficult, they're  keeping as positive of an outlook as possible.

It's the same attitude Weeks says many families are trying to have: patience and understanding during these difficult times.

Weeks says in addition to safety precautions during services,  they're also working hard to keep employees safe. He says so far they've had six confirmed deaths connected to COVID-19.

Per usual protocol they wear PPE gear, but Weeks worries what could happen if they run out.

"Our suppliers are back-ordered, so there’s not a lot. there’s a lot of people who are just out , so we’re trying to find different avenues to get these supplies."