Marker Funeral Homes finds way to connect loved ones amid pandemic

Marker Funeral Homes finds way to connect loved ones amid pandemic

COVID-19 has changed life for many people and small businesses and the funeral industry is no different.

The opportunity for families and friends to grieve and celebrate the lives of their loved ones, who have passed, is one of the most important services a funeral home can provide.

When the City of Tulsa and communities in the Tulsa Metro began to slide down the ladder that eventually led to “Shelter In Place” orders, Mike Marker and his staff at his three funeral homes and cremation services met to discuss how to handle the Coronavirus situation.

“We made the decision to shift to live streaming the services when the requirements came down from the government,” Marker said. “That combined with a lot of fears from people, we had to step back and think about it a little bit.”

Marker is the Co-Owner of the Hargrove-Marker Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Jenks. Marker co-owns the funeral home with long-time Jenks resident Ken Hargrove.

Marker is also the Co-Owner of the Leonard-Marker Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Bixby and Dowdy-Marker Funeral Home and Cremation Services in Haskell.

“For the families we are serving, their loss is no less significant than any one else’s during any other time,” Marker said. “We just didn’t feel comfortable telling those families, ‘Well sorry, the timing was just bad.’ But we also didn’t want to immediately say we are not going to abide by the rules and not give it the respect it deserves.”

Marker and his staff decided to start providing services with live streaming and only open the physical attendance of the services to immediate family members.

“We were blessed and fortunate that some of our staff we already had here are very tech savvy,” Marker said. “That was definitely a God thing. We began to talk about it, and we said if we are going to do this, we need to make sure and do it well. We jumped right in and it took us about three or four days to get everything we needed and figured out. It has worked well. We are still learning every time we do a live-streaming service. We have a discussion after everyone one we do, and we talk about what worked well and what we need to improve.”

Marker said this opportunity may open doors for more live streaming even when everything reopens.

“It has been interesting,” Marker said. “This is not something we would have chosen to do or wanted to do, but it has been rewarding and we all feel like we are learning something new. We are looking into the possibility of continuing to pursue live streaming our services to help families and friends of loved ones who may not be able to travel. It gives us a chance to reach more people. In the end, it will be a positive.”

According to Marker, the feedback from families who have had to utilize the live-streaming service, has been positive.

“We have received a lot of feedback from family and friends that is very positive,” Marker said. “We have encouraged people, who are watching the live streaming to leave comments, so families can see that people were showing their support. Instead of being able to give them hugs and show them support in person, the family can see the nice comments that were made.”

According to Marker, Marker Funeral Homes and Cremation Services will follow the state guidelines on how they are going to reopen their services to more than just immediate family members when the economy is opened back up.

Kyle Salomon

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