Winter Storms Complicate Funeral Planning

Jan 15, 2011 | 0 comments

As if funeral planning on the fly wasn’t stressful enough, here’s a story about bad winter weather postponing burials in New Jersey. From The Record newspaper:

WOODLAND PARK, N.J. (AP) — Funeral professionals say the weeks after Christmas are the busiest of the year.

There are theories: The elderly and infirm muster the will to hang on through the holidays. Some people are depressed after the holidays. Winter brings colds and flu, which can lead to bigger health problems.

Toss in three snowstorms in little more than two weeks and a busy period is even more challenging.

At George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, the six burials scheduled for Dec. 27 — when the Blizzard of 2010 left two feet of snow — were postponed until Dec. 28 and Dec. 29, said Debbie Santangelo, the memorial park’s president.

The two burials scheduled there for Wednesday, the day of the season’s third snowstorm, went off as planned. The same was true at Laurel Grove Cemetery in Totowa.

At Cedar Park and Beth El cemeteries in Paramus, there were no burials on Wednesday, but there were six on Tuesday. The families knew snow was coming and moved up their funeral plans, said office secretary Cathy Love.

Thanks to jackhammers, cemeteries are equipped to dig graves in frozen ground.

Snow creates an additional complication at George Washington Memorial Park, where 130,000 people are interred on a 110-acre site. All grave markers are flush with the ground and locating them is difficult under snow cover.

“People come out and try to find their grandmother’s grave in two feet of snow,” Santangelo said. “We clear the snow from markers in the area of a funeral, but for other markers, people have to wait until the snow melts.”

Some families, she added, defeat the snow by placing easily identifiable objects, such as potted trees, next to their loved ones’ markers.

Information from: The Record,

A Good Goodbye