News4 In Your Corner


Preparing for death during a pandemic

The financial burden alone can be devastating if you're not prepared
Posted at 11:27 PM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 23:27:09-05

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Resting in peace can be difficult if the people left behind are not prepared. Since the beginning of the pandemic, what has been certain, is the uncertainty of the future. Now more than ever, people are preparing for what is inevitable but often an afterthought, death.

Javier Lastra is now recovering from Covid-19 after 98 days in the hospital and says he's grateful to be alive. Only four months ago, Lastra was a 54-year old healthy man with no underlying conditions. He started with common symptoms of body aches and loss of taste and smell. After ten days of dealing with symptoms at home, he says he couldn't get much oxygen. He ended up at Cape Coral Hospital for two weeks. Then things took a turn for the worst when his immune system ended up attacking his lungs. He was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital and attached to two forms of live support.

The days turned into weeks, and the weeks turned into months. It got to the point where doctors spoke to his wife about making final arrangements. Lastra says, "It was very difficult. I know my wife. She stood up on the bed and yelled at God and yelled and kept yelling."

Lastra's wife let Tim Hauck at Fuller Metz Cremation and Funeral Services, know what they were preparing for. Hauck says, "I think what stands out is how people have been frightened, and the uncertainty of where we're at."

Saying goodbye is serious business. Hauck says, "We did see an increase in what I would call the death rate. And it did have an impact on our business as far as we were doing more business having more deaths, which we attribute to some of the Covid."

There was also an effect on supplies and services. Hauck says urns that had to be imported were temporarily on backorder. He reassures the supply may have slowed down a little, but they have other resources, and there's been no effect on the price at Fuller Metz.

Hauck adds another delay was due to paperwork. He says, "A lot of what we do is cremation, which directly involves the medical examiner. I think what had happened, we did see, was a small delay in some of the processing of some of the paperwork, which was, I believe, directly related to the medical examiner being inundated with having to certify each Covid death."

Regardless of us being in a pandemic, Hauck suggests it is a necessary conversation to have with your family first. He says, "Most of us have life insurance. We have car insurance. We're planning for a car wreck because we have life insurance. We're planning for a fire because we have homeowners insurance. We all have it, but very few of us have funeral insurance. Or pre-planning."

Fuller Metz's business is made up of about 20 percent pre-arrangements.

Like it is when planning a wedding, there are endless options to say goodbye. Not including the cremation or burial itself, services can range anywhere from $1800 and up. If you pre-plan, savings are in the thousands of dollars, not to mention the potential of unexpected financial hardship.

Lastra and his wife had already pre-planned arrangements, even before covid-19. Lastra says, "I wholeheartedly believe that you should have that done because it makes it easier for your family. You don't need to have to deal with death and have to make those arrangements. It's just not fair."