While many funeral homes in New Jersey have been holding online viewings due to the novel coronavirus government shutdown, one funeral home has taken viewings in another direction. That would be the outdoor visitation.

Clayton and McGirr Funeral Home in Freehold, in an effort to assist in the grieving process, recently held three outdoor viewings, each larger than the previous one. This provided relatives and friends an opportunity to drive past the casket and share condolences with the family.

The home hired traffic control from the Freehold Township Police Department during the visitation to ensure the safety of the drivers attending the visitation and the others on Route 524 in the event of a back-up. In addition, Clayton and McGirr also put speakers outside and were able to use a playlist the family created to incorporate music into the service.

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Lisa Avallone Murphy, administrative assistant to Robert C. McGirr, told me:

"We were researching different ideas to help people through this process as the traditional services aren't allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions. We came across an article for outdoor services and realized our facility was a great location for that. The next day we started construction on the pavilion and the following day was the largest of our outdoor viewings. The reaction was very positive. The largest service was for a young man and we had approximately 500 people come through. Friends of the family have commented that we made a horrific situation bearable and that we made them feel something besides devastating sadness."

Photo courtesy of Clayton & McGirr Funeral Home
Photo courtesy of Clayton & McGirr Funeral Home

Webcasts are still an option. In fact, Clayton and McGirr have had 17 public webcasts with more than 1,800 viewers this past month, with clergy officiating the service via Zoom.

The home's website has seen an increase of 46%, totaling over 80,000 visitors in the past 30 days. But if the cameras aren't the way you want to say goodbye, the outdoor visitation may another way to go.

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