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Local funeral home says month of November was unlike any month its seen before

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — Tim Honquest is the founder and funeral director of Honquest Funeral Home. He says this November was a first for him and his business.

"This month of November was something I've never seen before. It was crazy," says Honquest.

Over the years Honquest says his funeral home typically receives calls from roughly 30 families a month to set up services for their lost loved ones. Last month, that number nearly doubled.

"In the month of November we did 54 and 26 of them were COVID cases."

Honquest says the site's refrigeration area can hold 12 deceased. This recent high volume created a problem.

"We ran out of space. We literally ran out of space in November."

To adapt, Honquest says a preparation room was turned into a second refrigeration area to keep up with demand.

Meanwhile, Olson Funeral Home says it's also seen a significant rise in numbers this year, with a recent surge starting in October.

"We're definitely seeing an uptick right now," says Scott Olson.

Olson says families grieving the loss of a loved one to COVID-19, the death may have happened suddenly and prevented family members from being there in the hospital for the final moments.

"It's something significant to endure. From our perspective as funeral directors we want to make it as comfortable and comforting as we can to the families we're serving," says Olson.

Olson says he and his staff are trying to go above and beyond for families to make this process easier. Ultimately this non-stop work is also taking a toll on staff.

"It's super hard on us to see our families. We grieve along with them, to see them going through that process it's hard on everybody."

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. She joined the team in December 2014 as the evening producer. In 2015 she made the move to evening reporter before joining the 13 Investigates team in May of 2018.

She grew up in Woodstock, Illinois and graduated from Woodstock High School in 2009. Mary graduated with a degree in Journalism and Marketing from Loyola University Chicago in 2013.

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