Area funeral homes overwhelmed by COVID-19 death toll

Funeral homes struggle to accommodate storage and services amid high fatality volume
Funeral Homes
Funeral Homes(WIFR)
Published: Dec. 2, 2020 at 7:05 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - “I’ve never seen anything like this in my thirty plus years of being a funeral director,” said Honquest Funeral Home Owner, Tim Honquest.

Families consumed by grief and never-ending phone calls from those seeking to arrange services keep the phones ringing at Honquest funeral home in Loves Park. Director Tim Honquest says his business doubled the month of November and at times struggles to find other means of storage.

“The bodies remain in refrigeration, and of course our refrigerator is a twelve-person walk in cooler, and it was extremely full,” said Honquest.

Honquest turned one of his preparation rooms into a storage area, blasting the air conditioning to lower the room’s temperatures.

Grace Funeral Home in Rockford sees a similar trend. Owner Kristan McNames says business has increased by 25% over the past year, with people planning services, and also attempting to pre-plan their funeral arrangements.

“We have a lot of people pre-planning where they have someone in the hospital with COVID who is most likely not projected to make it, so that’s increased as well,” McNames said.

As local funeral directors learn to handle the volume, they say the hardest part is coping with the emotional toll and watching families unable to grieve the loss of their loved ones together.

“It’s the family. It’s the mom, the daughter that’s in Nevada that wants to come see her Dad,” Honquest said. “That’s the hardest part.”

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