Most funeral homes in P.E.I. are seeing an increase in memorial services now that pandemic gathering limits have been lifted, an industry association says.
The P.E.I. Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association said many of its members are quite busy, as families who chose to delay services until more people could attend are now able to properly celebrate the lives of their loved ones.
"We like to gather as a community when somebody passes and celebrate their life," funeral director David Ferguson said.
"Now we're able to gather in larger numbers like it was before the pandemic. And it's increasing the workload for services that were put off for some people ... but it's actually a good thing for families and the grieving process."
Ferguson said most funeral homes are "more than happy" to accommodate more people than during the pandemic, though there are also some which continued to hold a lot of smaller services while restrictions were in place.
"It's difficult for the grieving process when we put services off. It's better to do them at the time or close to the time than doing them, in you know, six months or a year after the fact," he said.
But while more people are now able to attend a service, Ferguson said the pandemic is still leaving its mark on most proceedings, and he's definitely noticing there are fewer people attending wakes than before COVID-19.
"It'll take time for everybody to feel comfortable," he said. "Some are wearing masks and some aren't. And of course, that's an option that's available. But I think everybody has become more aware of their surroundings."
Ferguson said only time will tell whether things will ever get back to what they were before the pandemic. But he said for families, being able to grieve their loved ones with the rest of their community makes a world of difference.
"We had a service yesterday at a country church and the church was full. So it was wonderful to see the church full with people," he said.
"We gather as a community to celebrate fun events, and we gather as a community to celebrate funerals. And for families to have that presence of a church being full, you know, it makes them feel a little bit better. They know that their loved one was very well respected in the community."