Minnesota funeral directors get creative to help families say goodbye

A drive-by visitation for a man who died from complications related to COVID-19.

With social distancing and gatherings of any kind limited to 10 people, grieving families and funeral homes are having to get creative when it comes to saying goodbye.

In Shoreview, Minnesota, Clark Osojnicki’s widow hosted a drive-by visitation Monday. She sat outside on the back side of the funeral home as friends and loved ones drove past, waving and sharing some support from their vehicle window.

Kris Osojnicki said Clark passed away at Regions Hospital exactly one week ago at the age of 56 from COVID-19 complications.

Funeral gatherings and memorial services are limited to just a handful of people, so Clark’s loved ones and the operators of Holcomb-Henry-Boom-Purcell Funeral Home came up with the idea for the drive-by service.

“They’re trying it,” said Dan Dahl, of Dahl Funeral Home. “And I hope it works, because if that’s the case, the rest of us can follow suit. It’d be nice to do something of that nature.”

Dahl operates a funeral home in East Grand Forks, Minnesota and is the past president of the Minnesota Funeral Director’s Association. He said funeral homes are facing unprecedented challenges across Minnesota in their attempts to meet the needs of grieving families. He said they’ve hosted video streaming services for people who can’t attend services.

In Annadale, Minnesota, a funeral home tied balloons to its chapel seats where mourners might otherwise be sitting as part of its “Hugs from the Heart” campaign. Instead, guests are asked to write messages that are then attached to the balloon for families to know how much their loved ones meant and to help provide comfort.