Local Funeral Home turns to technology for services

Emily Ness
Updated: March 27, 2020 10:10 PM

Under Governor Walz's Executive Order to Stay at Home, funeral homes have been asked to postpone services or provide other means for people to grieve. One Northland funeral home is working to do this through technology.


“We're really trying to adapt because people need closure,” Bart Porter, CEO and owner of Sunrise Funeral Home said.

Porter says Sunrise Funeral Home has long worked to make their services accessible to people despite distance. They do so by sharing pictures, videos and memories online. Now, they plan to step up these efforts.

According to Porter, Sunrise Funeral Home will record their services and put the videos online. For families who want more privacy or a sense of presence during the service, they will utilize phone calls and FaceTime.

“They kind of have to grieve now and get a little bit of closure and once all of this happens, we'll have a bigger, more of a celebration gathering so we're trying to help people get through the grieving rather than just postponing it,” Porter said.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, funeral homes are authorized to meet with families to make arrangements for final disposition, but should do so by telephone or remotely when possible.

“My staff has basically been furloughed at home for about two weeks so I’m trying to hold down the fort, they’re coming in when they have to meet people so doing this from home I think is going to be a lot safer for my people too,” Porter said.

The Department of Health is allowing private viewing for the purpose of identifying the decedent if the viewing is consistent with social distancing guidelines. Additionally, extra precautions will be taken in regard to cleaning and sanitization.

“We have to treat every case like they have something very dire and like it could be very damaging to us so we're going to keep that universal precaution up which is wearing all of our protective gear and all of the things that mortuary science tells our funeral directors to do,” Porter said.

Memorial services, visitations and graveside services will also be impacted by the Executive Order

“If its going to be a traditional burial, our cemeteries are going to take care of that,” Porter said. "No family will be present for that either at least for the duration of the order.”

During this difficult time, Porter says Sunrise Funeral Home hopes to continue supporting loved ones to the best of their ability.

“Being in the business I'm in, I enjoy life every day because I see every age come through this door, not just from disease, but car wrecks and accidents and nobody is promised tomorrow. We all hope for it so I hope that people see the light,” Porter said. “Be nice, support your pastor of churches, support your community, you know help if you can help wherever you can and use the six foot rule.”

Changes to funeral, memorial, visitation and graveside services are anticipated to last through the duration of Governor Walz's Executive Order, but could last longer if need be.


Emily Ness

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