WACO, TX — Funerals are expensive. Gabriel and Paul Resendez are brothers who had to pay for both parents' funerals after they passed within 16 days of each other.
A funeral is something we don't always plan for, especially two so close together. Over $40,000 and seven months later, the Resendez family is still paying off bills.
"You got the coffin, then the case around the coffin to stop it from all the corrosion, and then you gotta pay for the places, the plot," the two brothers said.
FEMA announced they'll be helping families like theirs by reimbursing people for COVID-related funeral expenses.
Due to the high costs of laying to rest Julia Resendez and Moses Resendez, Sr., both brothers are working extra to make ends meet.
"I try to work at least 20 hours of overtime every week," Paul Resendez said.
They thank the community for their continued support in donations, but they still have nearly $15,000 in debt.
"We're still trying to pay off till today. We're still dealing with it, like it's still a big dream to us," Gabriel Resendez said.
Funeral homes have seen an influx of COVID-19-related deaths. Brent Shehorn, owner of Lake Shore Funeral Home, says that's the new normal.
"Looking at McLennan County's total death toll at any given point during 2020, we were running anywhere between 30 and 34 percent of that total," Shehorn said.
Lake Shore has created countless protocols during this time, like adding a clear shield over the body so the loved one can still be viewed during the service while attendees are kept safe.
Shehorn says it's difficult in this time when all you want is a hug.
"We had to get creative for families on how to say goodbye," he said.
Families who apply for the FEMA assistance can receive up to $7,000. Though that doesn't cover the entire expense for the Resendez family, they say every little bit helps.
"If they'll help, it's greatly appreciated, and it'll take a lot of burden off our shoulders," Paul said.
In this difficult time, the brothers are trying to keep their heads held high, thanking those in the community who have already donated.
As they remember the strong soul their father, they know they'll make it through.
"It just helps us get by every day knowing he wouldn't give up, so we can't give up," Gabriel Resendez said.
Applications for the FEMA support does not begin until April. More information on how to apply and who is eligible can be found here.
If you would like to donate to the Resendez family, Gabriel Resendez asks that you message him on Facebook.