'Live Streaming'

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'Live Streaming'

Madden's Funeral Home to broadcast funerals in wake of COVID-19

BY MARK CUMMINGS
Editor-at-Large
cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, April 09, 2020

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MONTEGO BAY, St James - As of next week, Madden's Funeral Home in Montego Bay will commence live streaming of funeral services and burials, in the wake of restrictions on mass gatherings, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With this initiative families can connect through live streaming so they will be able to watch the funeral services and the burials from home, if they wish,” said Isiaa Madden, a director at Madden's Funeral Home.

“It is only 10 people can now attend a funeral, so we are setting up the system so that the bereaved families can connect live. That's the best we can do at this time for our clients, bearing in mind that they are not able to attend the funerals, and they cannot postpone the funerals for very, very long.”

She stressed that the service will be provided at no extra cost to her clients.

On March 16, Government placed restriction on gatherings of no more than 20 people, which was later reduced to 10, as part of efforts to curtail the spread of the infectious coronavirus.

Since then, funerals are being held without the customary church service, programmes are being trimmed, and people are being laid to rest without being eulogised.

“Right now we don't have a lot of 'church funerals', about half of funerals that we do every week go straight from the funeral home to the cemetery, and the pastor meets us at the cemetery, performs the rites there, and we bury right away,” Madden explained.

Leslie Madden, another director at Madden's Funeral Home, said although the funeral home has not had a COVID-19 death to prepare for a funeral, the company is well prepared and willing to handle such a case.

“We are yet to get a COVID-19 case[dead] but we are pretty much capable and safety-orientated and competent to handle most things as best as possible,” said Leslie, stressing that the home has been in business for over 70 years.

“We have been around during a number of outbreaks, a number of different diseases and we have been trained to handle any case.”

Madden told the Jamaica Observer West on Tuesday that over the past few weeks there has been a noticeable increase in the number of her clients who are requesting that their dead be cremated.

“We noticed that more people are opting for cremation which is the more economical and efficient way,” she noted.

“Cremation has increased by between 50 and 70 per cent over the last few weeks,” added Madden, whose company has the only crematory in St James, noting that cremations cost roughly 45 per cent less than 'burial by casket'.

Meanwhile, Leslie Jnr told the Observer West that there has been a fall off in revenue since the restriction on gatherings.

“There is definitely a drop in revenue, everybody is watching their spending dollar now, the earning power has taken a dive also, and because the number of persons attending funerals have significantly decreased, the printing of funeral programmes, for example, has also dropped,” he explained.

“We used to do about two, three hundred programmes, now it's down to 20… everything has taken a cut.”

Dale Delapenha, another funeral home director in Montego Bay, said he has seen a roughly 30 per cent drop in revenue in recent weeks.

“There has definitely been a fall off in revenue, somewhere between 25 and 30 per cent, because now, for example, there is no need for excessive funeral programmes, a lot of persons are now out of a job, so the spending power is just not there,” said Delapenha, the managing director of Delapenha's Funeral Home.

He added, however, that despite the drop in revenue, which, he said, has put his company under strain, he is “committed to helping the clients during this trying times”.

Delapenha, like the Maddens, noted that they have taken the necessary precautions, including social distancing, to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Up to April 7, there were 63 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with four deaths on the island.

Globally, more than 1.4 million people have contracted the virus which has claimed more that 82,000 lives.


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