AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– The pandemic has added extra stress to the process of planning a funeral.
“We recommend tombstones, but the tombstone people tell us that it is difficult to get them,” co-owner of Thomas Poteet and Son Funeral Home, Buzz Poteet said.
Right now, local suppliers say tombstones are on a major back order.
“Everything you see back here has been on order for probably a good month, month and a half. Some of it a little bit longer and I just now got it this week,” owner of Everlasting Granite & Marble, Gregg Craft said.
Tombstones are the hardest hit, but other aspects of funeral planning are suffering. Urns and casket parts are difficult to get.
“The hardware, the company we use is a darn good company and they have enough strength to get what they need, but they say it’s not easy,” Poteet said.
They say it all goes back to a worker shortage caused by COVID. A lack of employees from the quarries, to the shipping trucks.
“It’s not so much shipping, it’s that people aren’t working to make the products,” Poteet said.
“What it basically boils down to, not enough workers to get the blocks out in time,” Craft said. “Some places take priority to get those blocks to be able to saw them, cut them, polish them, and again it’s labor shortage with that.”
And during COVID, the local death rate increased. Poteet says a third of their funerals are deaths from COVID.
He says it’s a supply and demand issue as well as a worker shortage.
“I still have families waiting,” Poteet said.
Craft says some tombstones they could produce in a day, may now take weeks to months.
“We’ve just been upfront about telling people we’ll get it done, we just can’t guarantee when it’ll get done, unfortunately,” Craft said.