Holden joins the State of Missouri and much of the country in adhering to a stay-at-home order, per Governor Mike Parson and Johnson County Community Health Services. The order is meant to mitigate the spread of and exposure to the coronavirus during the pandemic we find ourselves in. All citizens are ordered to stay home and shelter in place until at least April 23, unless you work at an essential business. The Image is concerned about the toll the stay-at-home order is taking on our local merchants and we asked several area businesses how they were faring and what impact the coronavirus was having on their businesses. Two local businesses that are essential to the community are the town’s two funeral homes, Williams Funeral Chapel and Campbell-Cast Funeral Home. Troy and Logan Sowers, owners of Williams Funeral Chapel, said the pandemic has altered the way they do business and the ways they comfort and help grieving families in their time of need. “We are working on an appointment-only basis to limit foot traffic in our chapels,” said Logan. “Also, we are conducting gravesides services with immediate family only. As of Tuesday, March 31, we are unable to hold any large funerals, due to the stay-at-home order.” Logan went on to say they can offer a graveside memorial service or a funeral in the chapel, but only 10 people may attend. However, if the family wishes, they can hold a graveside service now and a regular funeral service once the pandemic is over in this area. The stay-at-home order includes limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people in the same location at one time, and even then, people are encouraged to practice social distancing procedures and keep a six-foot distance between each other. It’s a very difficult time, since grieving families draw strength from extended family members, as well as friends, during a memorial service, and because of the pandemic, they aren’t afforded that simple comfort. At Campbell-Cast Funeral Home, owners Joe and Cyndi Campbell say they are conducting funerals but no more than 10 people may attend, including the funeral director. “Our office has been running by appointment only,” explained Cyndi. “We encourage people to call anytime they may need us. We are here 24/7 and we are always willing to listen if someone just needs to talk.” Cyndi also says some families are waiting to hold a memorial service or funeral for their loved one until the stay-at-home order has been lifted for Holden. When asked if the pandemic made the job of funeral director more difficult, Joe commented, “We always take precautions and try to stay current on all regulation changes and updates.” Troy added that their business isn’t affected in the same way as non-essential businesses, but he says, “We are struggling just the same. Not from a financial standpoint by any means, but more of an emotional standpoint.” “It truly bothers us not to let families get together in this time of need when their loved ones have passed away,” Logan added. “We, as a funeral home, know that this time is already a depressing time for people, but when you are told you cannot attend a funeral for a loved one, well, that is truly hard,” said Troy. As the owners of the local funeral homes reflected on the impact of COVID-19, they shared their thoughts. “I think, if anything, this coronavirus situation has reminded us of how vulnerable we all truly are,” commented Cyndi. “It has shown us how small our world really is and how we are all connected to each other in one way or another. “It shows how we, sadly, take things for granted and how our foundations can be shaken. It has opened our eyes to fear and greed, but also to so much kindness and empathy. “It has brought us closer together and has made us appreciate the people in our lives even more,” reflected Cyndi. “We understand the stay-at-home order is for the best though,” said Troy. “We are willing to help families cope in any way we possibly can during this hard time, as we know this is extremely difficult for most families.” So, although the pandemic is something we never thought we’d be dealing with in our modern world, it does help to know that the families running our local funeral homes are all caring, empathetic individuals who want only to help your family during the difficult loss of a loved one. If you have questions about the services they offer, feel free to give them a call. They will be happy to answer any questions and address your concerns about memorial services or funerals during this historic COVID-19 outbreak. Note: See next week’s Image for more stories on how the coronavirus is impacting local businesses.