Editor’s note: The following guest column was written by Christina Muir of the Muir Funeral Home & Celebration of Life Center in Imlay City. She can be reached at 1-877-888-MUIR.

Michael and Nicole’s son, Jason, died suddenly in April after contracting COVID-19 from working in a nursing home. His parents struggled with the grief of burying their only son. And if the loss of their son wasn’t enough, the unexpected costs of funeral services heightened their pain and worries further. However, Jason’s parents are not alone. These tragic stories have become all too common today, impacting people of every race, color and gender. The past year has taken a deep emotional and financial toll on all of us. Every one of us has known or lost a loved one, knew a neighbor, friend, or colleague who lost their fight to this deadly virus. Less than two years ago this virus attacked our country and the world in a tumultuous whirlwind with catastrophic results. Although we continue to do our best to stay safe and avoid contracting COVID-19 and all the variants, it is a troubling and frustrating time in our history.

Once we met with Jason’s parents soon after his passing, we shared the news of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This program provides financial assistance to families for COVID-19 related funeral expenses up to $ 9,000. This program helped to lift part of the burden from Michael and Nicole’s hearts. To date, FEMA has awarded $1.2 billion, and of that $41,428,011 has been awarded to families in Michigan to cover funeral costs related to COVID-19 deaths. The costs covered by this program include funeral services, cremation, caskets, urns, cemetery costs, as well as memorial gravestones. Every family we serve with a COVID-19 loss is assured of our utmost attention and support collecting paperwork, contacting FEMA on the phone and walking them through the process. Once all documents are received and verified by FEMA, it typically takes less than 30 days for approval and monies to be sent to the family. This reimbursement eases the financial and some of the emotional burden that this devastating pandemic has inflicted on many small towns like ours across the nation. COVID-19 has tragically stolen many lives and shattered many hearts. Our goal and mission are to ease the financial burden and bring a sense of relief to individuals within our community torn by this horrific disease. As experience has taught as funeral directors, we understand the comfort and peace that families may experience as we encourage time to reminisce while understanding the memories of the one they have lost are kept alive in our hearts forever.

We are here to support the community through these traumatic circumstances. Please contact us anytime, we are here to answer any questions you may have and/or to help you through the application/reimbursement process.