Funerals Are Not Essential, and It's Prolonging Heartache During the Pandemic

"We have bodies that are stacking up in our funeral homes."

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Funeral home directors in Southern California said they're dealing with excessive wait times to get permits for burials and cremations and they say it's causing families to endure painful waiting times.

Irma Monzon has been waiting to bury her sister.

“Tenemos que seguir los pasos de dios," she said, which means, "we have to follow in God’s footsteps."

She wants a proper burial for her sister, who died June 22.

She said her soul and heart hurt.

She stood with a dozen funeral home directors Friday at a demonstration hoping to bring focus to what they say must be an oversight on the state’s part.

"We have bodies that are stacking up in our funeral homes," said Harold Cole.

Cole is from Continental Funeral Home, with three locations across Southern California. He says that because state offices are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what used to take as little as 24 hours to get death records in order -- particularly for families hoping to send their loved ones out of the country -- now takes upwards of two months.

“If these buildings are closed down, what’s going to happen to your loved one when they make their transition and want to be sent home to another country?” he said.

Monzon said because of what’s happening around the world, she’s been unable to give her sister her last wish – a burial in her hometown in Guatemala. Funeral directors says they need the governor to consider them essential, so more families don’t need to struggle with more heartache.

"You wanna go back home? It’s gonna be a long wait," Cole said.

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