Mortuary owner Brian Simmons has been making more trips to homes to pick up bodies to be cremated and embalmed since the pandemic hit.
With COVID-19 devastating communities in Missouri, his two-person crews regularly arrive at homes in the Springfield area and remove bodies of people who decided to die at home rather than spend their final days in a nursing home or hospital where family visitations were prohibited during the pandemic.
He understands all too well why people are choosing to die at home: His own 49-year-old daughter succumbed to the coronavirus just before Christmas at a Springfield hospital, where the family only got phone updates as her condition deteriorated.
“The separation part is really rough, rough rough,” said Simmons. “My daughter went to the hospital and we saw her once through the glass when they put her on the ventilator, and then we never saw her again until after she died.”
Across the country, terminally ill patients - both with COVID-19 and other diseases - are making similar decisions and dying at home rather than face the terrifying scenario of saying farewell to loved ones behind glass or during video calls.
“What we are seeing with COVID is certainly patients want to stay at home,” said Judi Lund Person, the vice president for regulatory compliance at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. “They don’t want to go to the hospital. They don’t want to go to a nursing home.”
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