Grieving family experiences funeral home delays

A Houston family contacted FOX 26, upset that delays at a funeral home caused them to postpone a loved one's funeral.

Antoinette Williams and Laprincess Rose say they took their sister and mother Ingrid Williams Mack to the Bill Clair Family Mortuary after she died of COVID-19. But they say they experienced delays getting information and a viewing last week was canceled.

"It's hurtful and it's sad," said Antoinette Williams. "We need closure, we really do. We really honestly do."

The Bill Clair Family Mortuary tells us by phone the delays were due to half their staff being out with COVID-19, but they rescheduled Ingrid's viewing and held it yesterday.

Glenn Bower, Executive Director with the Texas Funeral Service Commission says delays are not uncommon in funeral homes right now because the staff is working remotely and having to take extra precautions dealing with COVID-19 deaths.

"Now you have the increase of 4% throughout the state on top of what would be a normal death rate," said Bower.

He says funeral homes are offering more virtual memorial services, but families can have viewings if the body has been embalmed.

"We encourage families to view from a distance, either through some type of shield, plexiglass, or a veil even, something to create a slight barrier so there's no temptation to touch the remains," Bower explained.

He says funeral workers are generally exposed to the virus from people visiting the funeral home, not the deceased, but that he's not seeing a high incidence of workers catching it.

But the Williams family says the situation has added to their grief.

"It's so unfair, it's just not right," said Laprincess Rose.

The family says Williams Mack will be laid to rest Friday.  They are filing a complaint with the Funeral Service Commission.