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SALEM — Loss during the COVID-19 pandemic required families to improvise and navigate how to go about carrying out funerals, burials, celebrations of life and memorial services. Limitations on public gatherings made performing them difficult undertakings.
Some families went forward with in-person funerals and graveside burials restricted exclusively to immediate family members. Friends, neighbors and colleagues watched these tender moments play out over social networks. Circumstances brought many to opt for cremations over traditional burials.
SALEM — Hundreds gathered on Salem Common Thursday morning to honor veteran Salem police Officer Dana Mazola as his body moved through Salem’s streets one last time.
Mazola, 56, was killed in a car crash on Jefferson Avenue late last Thursday, June 25. He was off duty at the time, but had more than 30 years of service with the police department and was nearing retirement.
SWAMPSCOTT — In 1989, Dana Mazola wrote the following on his application to join the Salem Police Department:
“My main reason for wanting to become a police officer is that I have an ability to deal well with all types of people — and that is an important aspect of police work. In my opinion, a police officer has to deal with the public and I can do that. I enjoy helping people solve their problems and helping them through stressful or traumatic situations.”
“This has been the most challenging part,” said Anthony O’Donnell, of O’Donnell Funeral home in Salem. “It’s been hard finding a way to allow families to celebrate and honor the lives of the loved ones they have lost during this pandemic.
“We are used to celebrating their lives in a particular way, and now they cannot. As funeral directors, we carry the burdens of the families, but I don’t feel like I can do that in this environment. I can’t provide them everything they want.”
Anthony O’Donnell, of O’Donnell Funeral Home, said funeral homes are improvising. Like other Salem funeral-home outfits, O’Donnell said they are recording and live streaming funeral services.
“We had friends and family submit written remembrances of the deceased and place them on empty chairs throughout the funeral home with a single rose on each seat to represent their presence,” said O’Donnell. “The room was full of love and remembrance, and the roses on each chair were brought to the cemetery to place on the casket.”
With funeral homes serving the towns and cities of Salem, Danvers, Beverly, Peabody, Hamilton, Wenham, Topsfield, Boxford and Middleton, O’Donnell Funeral and Cremation Service have gained a reputation with generations of local families for conducting business with grace and dignity, and providing compassionate and caring services.
You are welcome to call us any time of the day, any day of the week, for immediate assistance. Or, visit our funeral home in person at your convenience.