As the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded, all eyes have been on the medical workers and public health disease detectives fighting on the front lines ― and sometimes giving their lives — to bring the coronavirus under control.

The fast-growing number of cases of COVID-19 around the country is also bringing a surge in the number of deaths. In New York City alone, the death toll is in the thousands and rising steeply every day.

There, and in places such as Detroit, Seattle and New Orleans, funeral directors are struggling to meet the increased demand. Joseph Lucchese, who owns and directs a funeral home in the Bronx, says it's unlike anything he's ever seen and it's dispelled any doubts he once had about the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.

Fairway Memorial Gardens
Courtesy of Keith Epstein

Our new social distancing society is important for all of our safety during the coronavirus outbreak, but it obviously makes a lot of little things we're used to in our daily lives harder. It also makes big things harder: birthday parties, weddings and … 




Maria Fonseca found her way to mortuary school the way a lot of people do: Someone died.

"Unfortunately, three years ago, I lost a cousin," she says.

The funeral director who helped her family grieve left an impression. Fonseca didn't know anyone in the funeral industry, and she asked to shadow him. Then she decided to follow in his footsteps.

"I want to be there to support [families] whenever they're going through the worst moment in their life," she says.

American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning

Apr 16, 2014

04/16/14 - Someone dies…what happens next? Wednesday’s Topical Currents looks at America’s relationship with death today with NPR  award winning reporter and producer Kate Sweeney. She’s written American Afterlife: Encounters in the Customs of Mourning

A Guide to the Logistics of Death

Jun 17, 2013

06/17/13 - Monday’s  Topical Currents addresses the bleak responsibilities of dealing with the death of a loved one. We’ll speak with attorney Scott Taylor Smith about his book, WHEN SOMEONE DIES:  The Practical Guide to the Logistics of Death. Smith was pained by the unexpected passing of his mother . . .