Funeral home now offering new concept of drive-by visitation services

VINE GROVE, Ky. — A funeral home in Vine Grove has come up with a new idea to help families mourn the loss of a loved one during the pandemic, at a time when traditional ways of coming together aren’t possible. 

Funerals in the community normally draw large gatherings, but that’s changed, now that no more than 10 immediate family members can attend a service together.

“We’re used to whenever we have a funeral in this area, usually large crowds come out to support the family, and the past few services we’ve had, they haven’t had that support like they normally do and that’s the reason for this idea,” James Chism, owner of the Chism Family Funeral Home said. “We’re just hoping this will give extended family members, neighbors and friends, some type of closure.”

Chism said he and his wife were brainstorming ideas of how to help local families struggling to celebrate the life of those they’ve lost during the months of COVID-19.

“At first we were just kind of at a loss trying to help the families and then after we went through a week or two we were like, well, let’s try this, let’s try that,” Chism said.”We just threw our heads together last Friday, came up with everything, and we’re ready to go now.”

What they’ve created is a clear window that will between the funeral home’s front doors after they’ve been propped open. Behind the window will sit the casket and close family members. It allows extended family and friends to say their goodbyes during a drive-by visitation service. 

“We’ll give each car an opportunity to stop, take a look inside the window, take a few minutes, whatever time they need, and then they’ll be able to move on and just exit,” Chism said. “We’re planning on inside the window having a chair there for a wife, a husband to sit in, wave to people as they go by.”

Chism said he also ran the idea by Vine Grove Police Chief Kenny Mattingly, who spoke to the governor’s office and got the seal of approval. Chism and Chief Mattingly decided the drive-by visitations should stick to two hours or less. 

“He’s planning on sending up one of his officers to oversee everything, make sure people don’t try getting out of their cars, and that everything stays in compliance,” Chism said. 

Focusing on safety, the Chism’s also wanted to make sure the casket was protected, which is why they chose to show it inside, rather than outside under the funeral home’s overhang. 

“Our plan is to only have it up when were doing the drive-thru visitation. Otherwise we’ll have it in another room of our facility,” he said. 

Chism said he hopes families will find comfort and support through the new drive-by option, while it’s difficult to mourn separated from our communities. 

“I’ve never imagined this is something we’d be doing,” he said. “It’s strange. When someone comes in you’re used to hugging them, shaking their hand, and we just can’t do that right now.”

As of Tuesday evening, the funeral home said it hasn’t had any families schedule a visitation yet this way.

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