Funeral home offers drive-up viewing services amid coronavirus outbreak

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A funeral home on the city’s west side is starting to offer a type of drive-up service.

The owner of Dixon Memorial Chapel was tired of families not being able to have any sort of funeral service or limiting the number of people because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“It’s our job to just help them understand the seriousness of this but at the same time, allowing them their proper farewells,” said James Dixon, owner of Dixon Memorial Chapel.

Both front windows of Dixon Memorial Chapel are normally filled with pictures and brochures but now putting a casket front and center is part of new service.

 “Ya, this is crazy, but we have to do some crazy things in this crazy time,” said James Dixon, owner of Dixon Memorial Chapel.

In this ‘new normal’ Dixon came up with a new idea, a drive-up/walk-up viewing.  The deceased is placed in a casket and place in the window. Family and friend can drive up and either stay in their cars or walk up to the window. The option allows people to see and be close to their loved.

 “Seeing a loved one in a casket or however they were going to be laid to rest has always been the hardest part but yet again was the beginning of the healing,” said Dixon.

This past weekend Jewel Williams said goodbye to her only sister, Pam Handley.

 “She was sweet. She was kind. She was giving,” said Jewel Williams, a grieving sister.

Handley was 64 years old, a mother and a grandmother.  Her family decided to have a drive-up/walk-up viewing.  Family and friends showed up and went up to Handley with only a piece of glass separating them.

“If you think about it, look how close everybody was to her, very close,” said Williams.

Handley’s service was the first of this type at Dixon Memorial.  So far, Dixon has helped the families of more than a dozen COVID-19 victims.  He knows so many victims are dying alone.  Dixon wants this to be a way victims and grieving loved ones can be together.  He understands this option isn’t for everyone.

 “The only thing we can do at this particular time is try,” said Dixon.

Williams admits she was skeptical at first but having the chance to see her sister and be close to her one last time meant a lot.

 “I thought it was wonderful. Something very different but it was very wonderful all at the same time,” said

During these services no more than 10 people can be gathered at one time and everyone still must be at least 6 feet apart.  Dixon plans on offering this option to families as long as the coronavirus restrictions are in place. 

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