Cumberland funeral home offers safe way for families to mourn

Blackstone Valley

CUMBERLAND, R.I. (WPRI) — Saying goodbye to a loved one is never easy, but when families have to limit the number of people attending a funeral or burial, it makes it even more heartbreaking and difficult.

With restrictions on gatherings in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, a funeral home in Cumberland is turning to the airwaves to help families grieve.

“She could be incredibly stubborn, but great sense of humor,” WBZ Radio reporter Kim Tunnicliffe said of her mom.

Tunnicliffe went on to describe her as adventurous.

“She and my dad, when he was alive, they went to Egypt and toured inside the Great Pyramids, and walked the Great Wall of China, and really went to the Galapagos Islands and saw the incredible wildlife,” Tunnicliffe said.

Her mom died on April 4 due to complications from surgery.

“We thought we were going to have her home the next day, recuperating from arm surgery, so it was kind of a shock,” she recalled.

According to Tunnicliffe, the surgery was to “repair a bad fracture in her arm, and she ended up having a really bad stroke after the surgery. She ended up developing pneumonia after that.”

Tunnicliffe said after her mom passed away, her family had to make a difficult decision.

“We were undecided with what to do, whether to just hold a very small, immediate family service,” she said. “We didn’t know what was available with all of this going on.”

They turned to J.J. Duffy Funeral Home. Funeral Director Jeff Bernardo said he was inspired by his pastor who used radio to broadcast his sermons.

“I thought, that’s a great way to connect to people and to connect to his parish,” he said. “And I thought, ‘why can’t my families use that to connect to their families?”

Keeping with social distancing rules, Bernardo said people can tune their radios to listen and attend funerals from inside their cars.

“It allows them to sit in the parking lot and be a part of the service and acknowledge the loss that the family has suffered,” he explained.

Tunnicliffe said it allowed her family to give her mom a proper sendoff.

“It was a really good alternative and it really gave us all — family, friends, everybody — some of that closure,” she said.

Bernardo said they’ve been providing live streams of funerals via webcam for more than a decade, and he hopes this new service helps families to heal.

“We try and place that family on that healing path and we create a healing moment in a very very difficult time,” he said.

For more information, visit J.J. Duffy Funeral Home’s website or call (401) 334-2300.

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