GLADSTONE, Mo. — First responders are on the front lines of the pandemic; however, last responders are right there as well.
That’s why a Gladstone funeral director is headed to New York, hoping to ease the state’s need for those in her occupation.
Nicole Giarratana, a funeral director with White Chapel, said helping families navigate this tragedy is her goal.
“It is very hard to say goodbye to your loved ones and start the true process of grieving this way,” she said.
On Tuesday, Giarratana flew from KCI for Staten Island. She’ll spend two weeks helping families who lost a loved one to COVID-19 make their final arrangements.
“The difference it’s going to be, being thrown into something that no one’s experiencing,” Giarratana said. “I know the funeral directors. They’re saying this is worse than 9/11. It’s nothing like they’ve ever seen.”
She said around 60 White Chapel funeral directors from across the country are working in rotations to keep plans moving and help families as fast as they can.
“I’m happy to help out. It’s essentially, I always — it’s part of a team at White Chapel warrior, a team there and it’s me going to help, you know, another team,” Giarratana said.
“And in the broad spectrum, we’re all on the same team with our first responders, our essential workers. We’re all doing this together. So I’ve just taken my role out and I’m going to help.”
Giarratana said families are able to live stream services on Facebook if they want to do the service quickly, or they can make arrangements in advance for once stay-at-home orders are lifted.
“Another thing that we are doing is providing Facebook live services,” Giarratana said. “So that is another way that your family across the nation or even in the same town that are not able to be part of that 10 people can be able to tune in and watch the service on your website at all.”
She said she understands the work she’s doing is important, but knows she’s not alone. There are countless people working just as hard to help everyone get through the pandemic.
“The outpouring of support is incredible. It’s — you can get emotional about it,” Giarratana said. “So what I would encourage everyone to do is still support all your first responders, your health care workers, your essential workers, your fast food workers. Just keep supporting them cause it really does help.”
Once Giarratana returns from Staten Island, she will quarantine for two weeks at home to ensure she hasn’t come into contact with the virus herself.