Auburn Mountain View Cemetery Manager Craig Hudson, center, confers with two maintenance workers. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter

Auburn Mountain View Cemetery Manager Craig Hudson, center, confers with two maintenance workers. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter

COVID-19 gathering restriction delays funerals

For one funeral home owner, the confusion came to a head after a recent service.

By Robert Whale, Auburn Reporter

Breaking the news is awful.

That is, telling the grief stricken in the time of COVID-19 they can’t have a public funeral service until Gov. Jay Inslee lifts his order against public gatherings.

After March 31, Inslee said.

But will the ban end then?

Waiting for an update from the governor’s office are Rob Perry, owner of Yahn and Sons Funeral Home, and Craig Hudson, manager of Mountain View Cemetery in Auburn, who, just like everyone else, are struggling to deal with social distancing and the fallout from COVID-19.

“This is rapidly changing,” Hudson said, “because two weeks ago we had families when it was okay to have 250 people or less, then changed quickly to 50 a few days later, then down to 10, and now it’s just delivery only of the casket with families not able to be, specifically for us, at a graveside service.”

One hard call Hudson had to make was to a family that had been expecting to hold a service with an anticipated gathering of up to 250 based on the numbers at the time.

“We deal with a lot of different ethnicities and cultural issues where it’s a very big deal. It’s a lot of people, and people fly in from all over, and it’s very hard to tell people no, it has to be delayed.”

“It’s been difficult because there are so many rules coming from so many places,” said Perry. “You’ve got the feds and the CDC, the county and the governor, so, which rules do you follow, and which do you not follow? We always try to err on the more conservative side of everything and be overly cautious here.”

“We got a clear definition of the governor’s proclamation days later from the Department of Licensing, that all the events that are included in the ban would be graveside services, witness cremations, and funerals, of course,” Hudson said.

“So, we’re just trying to keep up, and we’re the bearers of bad news. And even though we have the documented support from the governor, it’s still tough, because [mourners] have these plans, and they’ve already invited people, and now…”

For Perry, the confusion came to a head after a recent service.

“We told them, ‘OK, we are limiting this service to 10 because only 10 people can be in this building at one time, and you guys all have to be outside and be 6 feet apart.’ Of course, you can’t really police that, but we were doing the right thing,” Perry recalled.

As later funerals approached, Perry said, he realized the new regulations would not work at funerals.

“A funeral situation is emotional,” Perry said, and people want to shake hands and hug and cry and do all the things we as human beings need to do, but you just can’t do it now. I talked with the board and and state and I was looking for some direction to help us —if we had to say no — to say, ‘This is why we’re saying no. It’s not just me, it’s the governor.’

“And the next day,” Perry continued, “the headline in the Seattle Times was ‘funerals banned.’ People had been trying to get around that, you know, asking, ‘What if we have less than 50, what then?’ And you feel for them. My dad passed away less than a year ago, and the thought of not being able to have something is terrible.”

The cemetery remains open, so a family member or family members living in a house together can come and say their goodbyes after workers have taken care of the interment itself, With cremation, Hudson said, just having the urn to deal with makes it a little easier to wait or postpone the service than does a traditional casket burial.

“With embalming and refrigeration and things like that they can certainly wait until March 31, but right now, even that’s a question mark whether the ban’s going to be over at that time or if it’s going to be extended, so it’s kind of tricky situation. I’ve got a couple of families with arrangements pending that I’m working with this morning, and everybody that I’ve talked to has been very understanding,” Hudson said.

Even the the guys who dig the graves and do the burials and set up the markers and sometimes help out with graveside services at Mountain View Cemetery feel it.

“We’re all about the people,” said maintenance worker Zach Hopper, “and it kinda breaks your heart that people can’t send their loved ones off the way they want to do it. Just the way the guidelines are now about people not showing up for the service is heartbreaking.”

“It’s still kinda new. Like last week, we still had a ton of people coming up here. We just try to keep our distance from them. They didn’t talk to much about it, but we still had a lot of visitors.”

“One of the reasons we like working up here other than the Parks Department is we get to help people when they are going through a rough time,” said co-worker David Partridge. “For us to give them bad news when they’re already going through it, it’s sad.”

“It really is hard,” Hudson said. “Can you imagine, losing a young person and then having to tell the parents they couldn’t come?”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Rob Perry, owner of Yahn and Sons Funeral Home. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter

Rob Perry, owner of Yahn and Sons Funeral Home. ROBERT WHALE, Auburn Reporter

More in Business

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
How financial planners address plan uncertainty | Guest column

One of the key challenges we face as financial planners is dealing… Continue reading

The results are in!
Best of Issaquah 2021 results

We had almost 1,100 voters and 12,000 submissions. Most popular categories: Best Coffee Shop, Customer Service, Hamburgers, Non-Profit, Fine Dining, Park, Mexican Cuisine, Pizza, Family Restaurant and Lunch.

Mixologist and general manager of Civility & Unrest, Joe Dietrich (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
If you want a regular cocktail, go somewhere else

Master mixologist Joe Dietrich is elevating cocktail culture at Bellevue’s Civility & Unrest.

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
Is cryptocurrency really an investment? | Guest column

Undoubtedly you have heard about the new form of money known as… Continue reading

Front bar at Bellevue’s Civility & Unrest (courtesy of Civility & Unrest)
Two of James Beard Award-winning chef Jason Wilson’s restaurants to reopen in October

The Lakehouse plans to reopen Oct. 12 and Civility & Unrest reopens Oct. 14.

Stock photo
Grocery store workers have right to wear Black Lives Matter buttons

National Labor Relations Board ruling against ban by Kroger-owned QFC, Fred Meyer

Big Island Poke in Renton (courtesy of The Intentionalist Facebook page)
Small-business advocacy group wants you to try minority-owned businesses and put it on their tab

The Intentionalist is opening up $400 tabs for folks to use this weekend at select businesses.

Eastside King County restaurant owners discuss challenges with U.S. Rep Suzan DelBene at Pomegranate Bistro in Redmond. (Photo credit: Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing)
Restaurant owners discuss labor difficulties with U.S Rep. Suzan DelBene

Experienced service and kitchen staff are reportedly hard to hire as food service reopens.

Dave and Buster's restaurant and entertainment venue looks to hire 130 people to staff its Bellevue venue, set to open in August. Photo courtesy Dave and Busters.
Dave and Buster’s hiring 130 for August opening in Bellevue

Dave and Buster’s restaurant and entertainment venue opens in downtown Bellevue on… Continue reading

Images of dishes from Issaquah’s Umi Cafe posted on the SMORS page. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Ho)
Facebook page promotes minority-owned restaurants across Puget Sound region

Miya Nazzaro used to be a member of Facebook pages that were… Continue reading

The Moe Vegan food truck serves meals at the city of Kent’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 21, 2020. Sound Publishing file photo
King County fire marshals offer regulatory relief to food trucks

39 fire authorities have reportedly agreed to standardize fire codes and inspections.

Cash Cards Unlimited partners, left: Nick Nugwynne, right: Cassius Marsh (photo credit: Cash Cards Unlimited)
Former Seahawks player Cassius Marsh cashes in on trading cards

Marsh and his friend open physical and online trading card store as collectibles boom amid pandemic.