A Tennessee funeral home is offering some convenience to those wanting to pay their last respects to the deceased.
Ryan Bernard, owner of R. Bernard funeral home in Memphis, first opened his doors in January, and already he's making headlines. That's because Bernard is the first in the state to offer drive-thru viewing, an idea he said he got from a funeral home in California, WHBQ-TV reported.
It's unclear which funeral home Bernard got his inspiration from, but NBC News reported on a similar concept at a Los Angeles-area funeral home in 2012 that offered the same convenience. The Robert L. Adams funeral home in Compton, California, used bulletproof glass in an enclosed drive-thru viewing area, making it a popular solution for keeping violence away from gang funerals.
But Bernard said his decision to bring drive-thru viewing to Tennessee had less to do with security and more to do with convenience, especially for those who have trouble physically getting around.
"You’ll be surprised how many people who just can’t stomach coming into a funeral home. They’re scared, so it offers convenience to those,” Bernard said, according to WHBQ.
So how does it work, exactly? Bernard said guests sign in on an iPad before pulling up to viewing area. He added the option also extends the period during which the public can stop by to pay their last respects to the deceased.
"Say a family has a visitation from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. We would put their loved one in the drive-thru viewing area say around 1 p.m. and they will have a drive-thru viewing from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.,” Bernard explained to WATN-TV.
The drive-thru option is free for families with funeral packages, and so far, four families have taken advantage of the option.
"We've been getting rave reviews," Bernard said, noting that not everyone who comes through the drive-thru viewing area even knew the deceased.
“We had people just pulling up actually just being nosy,” Bernard told WHBQ.
The drive-thru option isn't the only way Bernard is wooing customers, though. His funeral home also offers a live-stream viewing option so that friends and family who are out of town during a service can pay their virtual respects.
NBC News reported funeral homes in Chicago and Louisiana have also begun offering drive-thru viewing for funeralgoers.
At least one funeral home in Michigan also has a drive-thru viewing area, MLive reported.