April 1, 2020 COVID-19 Letter to Families

Dear CCA Families, 
It seems like every morning we wake up to more changes to how we live our every day lives. As an essential business, we at the CCA are constantly monitoring guidelines set by national and local officials, and are adjusting our operations to meet safety standards while also providing you with the services and support you need. With that being said, we’d like to keep you as informed as possible through these weekly email updates
Here are some updates as of April 1, 2020:

  • April 19th Sunday Grief Support Groups are being moved to an online format.There will be no in-person support groups. Please click here if you’d like to receive information on attending an online support group. You can also request copies of grief support materials by replying to this email.
  • Our offices remain open to those making immediate burial arrangements.
  • Pre-planning appointments, memorial orders, decoration purchases, and service requests are all available online, via phone, or through traditional mail.

Again, all of our services are still available to you, though some may be adjusted for added safety measures. Please call 216-641-7575 should you require any service, or have any questions. 

March 23, 2020 COVID-19 Letter to Families

Dear CCA Families,

The Stay at Home order issued by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine this past Sunday has raised many questions regarding which businesses are deemed essential to continue operating amidst the COVID-19 crisis. I want to assure you that the Catholic Cemeteries Association will remain open to serve you and your family during this incredibly difficult time.

Whether you are making at-need arrangements, planning for the future, or seeking bereavement resources, please know that we will find a way to continue our operations, while also assuring the safety of our employees and you, our families.

We have adjusted many of our policies and procedures to fit health guidance set by the CDC and the State of Ohio, and will continue to monitor their guidance and adjust as necessary.

Again, all of our services will still be available to you, though some may be adjusted for added safety measures. You can view our current list of safety updates here.

Please call your cemetery office at 216-641-7575 should you require any service, or have any questions.

I know this is an uncertain time, and uncertainty can be difficult to handle. However, my hope, and the hope of everyone here at the CCA, is that we can be a comforting and helpful resource during this time. I would also encourage you to take this time of social distancing to reconnect with our Heavenly Father, who provides endless comfort and peace.

As Pslam 46:1 states:

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

May we all trust in God as we navigate through this challenging time.

God bless,

Andrej Lah

Tips for Handling the COVID-19 Pandemic

Each day, the world seems to wake up to more headlines regarding the spread of COVID-19. As cities limit travel, business hours, and even enact stay-at-home procedures, many people are experiencing extreme stress, confusion, and grief.

One doesn’t need to lose a loved one to experience grief during this time. There are so many other losses attached to living through a pandemic; some include: losing your job, a drastic decrease in 401K savings, the loss of privacy (since most of your family will be home), the inability to go to church, and the feeling of no longer being fully safe and secure.

This can be overwhelming, especially if you are dealing with several types of grief all at once. We’ve compiled some healthy tips and suggestions on how you can navigate this challenging time. We hope that these suggestions may bring you some comfort and peace.

Do Not Panic

Whenever we feel out of control, it can be very easy to panic. This is a normal human response to something so jarring and unusual. However, panicking is not necessary. It is good to be aware and alert to what is happening around you, but you must also remember that nothing in this world is permanent. If you find yourself slipping into a panic or anxiety attack try repeating the phrase “this too shall pass.” Try to think past what is happening now, and envision your life once this situation has resolved.

Limit Your News Intake

The 24 hour news cycle, while helpful in some ways, can really hinder your mental health. It is easy to read headline after headline about what’s happening in the world, and envision all the possible worst-case scenarios that may arise. While being informed is a good thing, try to limit your media exposure. Give yourself a limit each day on the amount of news you intake. When you do seek information, only check with trusted sources such as the CDC, WHO, and your local state government.

REMEMBER: There are many unreliable resources circling throughout the web. Only trust information from verified sources.

Connect with Family and Friends

It’s important during times of crisis to reach out to family and friends. Keeping in mind guidelines set by the CDC and your local government, perhaps a phone call or video chat would be best, especially if you’re reaching out to older friends or relatives. Talking frequently can help combat feelings of isolation or loneliness you may feel. This is also the time to care for others who may be included in at-risk groups. In many cases, caring for others is a wonderful way to channel extra energy you may have from anxiety or fear.

Explore Technology and New Hobbies

We are very lucky that we live in a modern age of technology. Not only does technology help us connect with others through video chatting and text, but it also opens the door to new hobbies and experiences. If you find yourself stuck at home, perhaps taking an online class on something you’re passionate about is a good idea. Maybe now is the time to do some genealogy research on your family. Maybe a favorite artist or talk show host of yours is sharing special videos on YouTube – you just need to take the time to explore! Technology aside, this time can be a chance to complete other tasks, such as preparing your garden, reading a good book, or doing a deep clean of your home. 

Spend Time with God  

While the world may feel out of control, there is one thing in our lives that we can always depend on – prayer. Prayer requires no supplies, no specific location, and no expectations. God is always waiting to be with us, and He will never waiver in supporting and comforting us during times of hardship. As the coronavirus continues on during our season of Lent, perhaps this is a time to enter deeply into Christ’s own journey through the desert. God is here to walk us through each step of every day. Place your trust in Him. Grow in your dependence on Him. The more you give to God, the less anxiety, fear, and grief you will feel.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Reinhold Niebuhr, American Theologian.
Post written by Katie Karpinski 

March 18, 2020 – COVID-19 Letter to Families

The Catholic Cemeteries Association has been closely monitoring the spread of COVID-19 in our surrounding communities. We are following guidelines set by the CDC, the Diocese of Cleveland, and the State of Ohio on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still fulfilling our mission to serve families before, during, and after the death of a loved one.

It is our top priority to keep our employees and the families we serve safe during these stressful times.

With that in mind, here are some updates:

  • At this time, all cemetery offices will continue their normal office hours.
  • All cemeteries are open for visitation.
  • All services will be available with some adjustments.
    • In regard to funeral masses specifically, the Diocese of Cleveland has released the following statement: If at all possible we recommended that you schedule a memorial Mass at a time when the current restrictions are lifted. The Rite of Committal may be celebrated at the cemetery with immediate family members only, keeping in mind the call for social distancing. If a funeral Mass is celebrated, the attendees are limited to immediate family members only. We encourage the family to make note in the published obituary that the funeral Mass and burial are private family only events.  Please keep in mind the maximum number of persons in attendance according to government directives.
  • Cemetery staff has been instructed to expand current sanitation efforts by frequently disinfecting commonly touched surfaces, practicing good handwashing, and enacting other efforts as outlined by the CDC.

Please call your cemetery office at 216-641-7575 if you have further questions.

We will keep you updated as new information and guidelines are released from the CDC, the Diocese of Cleveland, and the State of Ohio. Let us pray that these new efforts may work in preventing the further spread of COVID-19, and that all those affected by this turbulent time may find peace and comfort by turning to our Lord, Jesus Christ.

God bless,

Andrej Lah

Happy Birthday

I first met Dave when he lost his wife. She was buried at All Souls Cemetery, and after her burial Dave approached me to ask if he could assist the cemetery in caring for its ponds. Since then, we’ve kept in touch. This past week, he called to ask permission to see if there were any spotted turtles within the cemetery. Before we said our goodbyes, Dave asked if I had a few more minutes to talk.

He started to tell me about his 70th birthday that happened a few weeks prior. Dave went to visit his wife at the cemetery. As he sat by her gravesite, he knew the only person who would have made his day special was gone from this world. Loneliness washed over him. The couple never had children, and he felt that no one else seemed to care enough to even wish him a happy birthday.

Dave is someone with an extremely kind soul. It broke my heart as I listened to this story. However, he continued.

He said he spent a few more minutes visiting his wife, telling her how much he loved and missed her, then went home still saddened by the day.

One week later, Dave was back at All Souls Cemetery to visit his wife. This time, he decided to spend some time at the pond to check on the fish he had recently placed there.  As he sat, he could see something in the distance being carried by the wind.  It looked like a balloon decoration from somewhere in the cemetery.  The balloon kept coming closer until it landed by his feet. 

When he looked down at the balloon, he couldn’t believe what he saw.  A balloon had travelled across the cemetery at the very moment that he was sitting at the edge of the cemetery pond and on it was written “Happy Birthday”.

With tears in his eyes, Dave looked up and said a silent thank you to his wife who undoubtedly had sent him a “Happy Birthday” from Heaven.

Dave’s story reminds me of the connection that continually exists between us, our loved ones, and God. I hope his story can provide some hope to anyone missing someone they love.

– Andrej Lah

Director, The Catholic Cemeteries Association