BROOKFIELD, Wis. — The pandemic took a Waukesha man’s life and then caused his funeral to be delayed for more than a year. He isn’t the only one. Funeral homes around the area say they are busy with delayed services.
The celebration of Charles “Chuck” Larsen’s life came 14 months after he passed away. His family says he got COVID-19 last year and passed away soon after.
“Six days, from diagnosis to death,” said Debra Horkan.
Debra and Chuck were married for more than two decades and raised two children together. Despite divorcing, they remained friends. Debra even cared for Chuck after he was diagnosed with dementia. When he got COVID-19, the only way Debra and their children and grandchildren could say goodbye was through a phone call.
“They got to say goodbye over the phone. It was a very difficult situation,” said Debra. “That was not enough. I always knew I wanted to celebrate his accomplishments and his life.”
The National Funeral Directors Association spokesperson, Jim Olson, says they do not keep records of how many funerals have been delayed in the last year. He estimates around 10 percent.
Mark Krause, the owner of Krause Funeral Home, which hosted Larken’s funeral, says they have a waiting list of delayed services.
“We have about 30-40 people in the backlog and as we keep going out, we get more and more people either calling or we call them,” said Krause.
During COVID-19 restrictions, Krause says funerals in the area were limited to 10 people or less. Some people held off on services. They offered free services at a later date if people wanted to take that option.
“Some people have felt that enough time has passed that we don’t want to reopen those feelings. Other people are feeling quite the opposite: we want to remember and celebrate their life,” said Krause.
Debra Horkan says when the funeral happened, it didn’t matter that 14 months had passed since Chuck’s death.
“Closure is really delayed when you have to wait. We tend to try to adapt, frantically adapt. But we can’t, so having the memorial and the celebration of life for Chuck really helped us as a family to have that closure that was needed,” said Horkan.