In the midst of planning a funeral for a family member who has just passed away, you should give some thought to the people who will be attending. If you expect that someone who will pay his or her respects is in a wheelchair, it's worthwhile to give some thought to making the funeral service more accessible for him or her — especially if the person is a family member or will be playing a role in the proceedings. You don't have to worry about accessibility to the funeral home itself; funeral homes comply with ADA guidelines and are equipped with exterior and interior ramps and wide door openings to allow wheelchair users to get around with ease. Here are some things that you'll want to consider:
Role In The Processional
Perhaps the person in a wheelchair has a prominent enough role in the family that you'll ask him or her to be a pallbearer. The logistics of being a pallbearer while in a wheelchair can be challenging, so an alternative is to make the person an honorary pallbearer. If you're choosing six pallbearers, for example, select an additional person who can actually walk holding the casket, and then have the person in the wheelchair follow directly behind the casket on its way out of the funeral home. If the wheelchair user commonly has someone push him or her, make sure to sit this person near the front of the room with the pallbearers.
Space In The Vehicle Lineup
As the casket travels out of the funeral home and into the hearse for its ride to the burial site, funeral attendees will also file out of the building and into their vehicles. Generally, the hearse will be positioned to leave the funeral home parking lot first, followed by some funeral home vehicles that will carry family members and, finally, other funeral attendees will follow suit. Because the pallbearers will often travel in the funeral vehicles or directly behind them, make sure to arrange for the wheelchair user's handicapped vehicle to be positioned right behind the funeral home's vehicles, too.
Assistance In The Cemetery
If the wheelchair user doesn't have someone to push him or her, this person may still be able to get around successfully at the funeral home. However, this can be a different story at the cemetery, where changes in elevation and a bumpy ground can make navigating the wheelchair difficult. Just as you've likely assigned ushers and other helpers to play a role in the funeral service, have one or two people designated to help the wheelchair user from the cemetery road to the gravesite.
Contact a company like Ryan-Parke Funeral Home for more information and assistance.