AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the state reopens and lifts mask mandates, those at a local funeral home are reflecting on the past year and the loss COVID-19 has brought to our community.
“It has been an incredible journey of sadness trying to help people, and it really just overtook our industry,” Charles Villasenor, the president of Mission Funeral Home said.
Funeral homes like Mission Funeral Home have been overwhelmed. During the first surge last July, Villasenor said they had 80 COVID-19 deaths over the span of a month across its three locations, and with pandemic safety guidelines in place, this created a funeral service backlog.
“We were able to help families who needed things right away and they were very understanding because we were all in the middle of this so we were just getting things done as fast as we could in a dignified manner,” he said.
The need was so great they had to hold three services a day compared to the six to eight services they would normally hold each week. That pace continued through September. Villasenor said in the last several weeks things have started to calm down, but he has lingering concerns as the new state rules go into effect.
“I’m a little nervous because I wear a mask everywhere I go now,” he said. “I hope people take it upon themselves to think about everyone around them.”
Villasenor said he will keep a close eye on the months to come especially July.
“Everything is week by week and month by month, but July is really one of the times where I think for me and my own loss of my mother I think July is going to be to a determining point as far as seeing where things go,” he said.
Last year, the Matriarch of Mission Funeral Home, Lois Pena Villasenor, died from COVID-19 complications. She was 87 years old.