Newtown’s Only Funeral Director Opens Up About The ‘Week From Hell’
Daniel Honan, the director of Honan Funeral Home, has never had so much work. He has hired 25 to 30 new staffers to help handle the funerals of the 11 grade-school victims he must soon bury.
Article From: NY Daily News
Newtown’s only undertaker has never had so much work.
Daniel Honan, the director of Honan Funeral Home on Main St., said he’s hired between 25 and 30 new staffers to handle the 11 grade-school victims of Friday’s massacre he must bury in the coming days.
Honan, who usually keeps just two others on staff, said the additional workers will help handle what he called “the week from hell.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this, never,” Honan said over the weekend. “We added staff to meet the demand and do what we do.”
Honan, showing obvious signs of exhaustion from the grim work, said his phone has been ringing off the hook from people requesting funeral arrangements for those killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Since the funeral home opened in 1903, none of the previous generations of morticians has been tasked with providing services for so many grieving families at once.
Honan said his staff at the funeral home has been given the grim task of trying to hide the bullet holes for a week’s worth of wakes.
“We’re trained to cover them up,” he said. “We have people with special skills to do that. Some caskets will be open and some will be closed.”
An open casket, he added, “brings the reality of the situation to light and helps bring closure” for the families. Honan said his clients are “handling it well overall . . . considering what is happening.”
Three of 20-year-old killer Adam Lanza’s victims lived on the same rural road, within a half-mile of each other.
“We’re all stunned by this,” said Lydia Krikorian, 65, who lives on the same stretch of Great Ring Road, where slain 6-year-olds Jesse Lewis and James Mattioli and teaching assistant Anne Marie Murphy lived.
“They’re all on our street,” Krikorian said. “It’s just a shock.”
Little Jesse was remembered as a plucky kid, who often liked to play farmer and tend to his toy horse in the yard.
“He was imaginative and full of energy,” said family friend Lisa Dismont, who keeps a horse on the family’s property. “He was a little character. He just liked to be goofy. His favorite thing was to act like an old man. He’d pull his trousers up to his chin and walk hunched over with a scowl on his face.”
She said the child’s family was devastated. “We’re all trying to grapple with what happened,” Dismont said. “We’re all going to miss little Jesse. He was very perceptive, very inquisitive, just a very happy little boy.”
A half-mile up the the winding road, family members gathered near the home of Murphy, 52 — who was killed while shielding the bodies of students.
“She was the glue in the family,” said one relative, who declined to give his name. “She took bullets for those kids. She did what she was trained to do. They’re trained to get the kids in a corner and put their arms around them and she did that.”
The large white house was filled with holiday arts-and-crafts projects she had made with her pupils. “She was a very creative, high-energy person,” the relative said.
A short drive farther up the road, the family of little James mourned inside his home.
“It’s a very raw time for them,” said an FBI agent stationed outside the house.
Meanwhile, the family of another 6-year-old girl, Jessica Rekos, recalled her love for horses and that she was looking forward to getting cowgirl boots and a hat for Christmas.
“She was a creative, beautiful little girl,” the family said in a statement. “We cannot imagine our life without her.”
They said the little girl also loved learning about whales and playing with her two older brothers.
“We are mourning her loss, sharing our beautiful memories we have of her, and trying to help her brother Travis understand why he can’t play with his best friend,” the statement said.
“Like the rest of them, she was gone too soon,” said her uncle Craig Lehmann, 52.
The parents of 6-year-old Catherine Hubbard thanked the tight-knit community for offering so much support.
“We are greatly saddened by the loss of our beautiful daughter, Catherine Violet, and our thoughts and prayers are with the other families who have been affected by this tragedy,” said Jennifer and Matthew Hubbard.
“We ask that you continue to pray for us and the other families who have experienced loss in this tragedy.”
One of the school’s slain staff members, Lauren Rousseau, 30, was remembered as a devoted teacher who cherished the children she taught.
“Lauren wanted to be a teacher from before she even went to kindergarten,” her mother, Terri Rousseau, said in a statement.
Her daughter worked substitute teaching gigs in different schools before she was hired at Sandy Hook Elementary School in November.
“We will miss her terribly and will take comfort knowing that she had achieved that dream,” the mom said.
Two of the bodies will be buried at Newtown Village Cemetery. Four of the children will be laid to rest in St. Rose Cemetery, less than a mile from the school in which they were executed in cold blood.
Several others will be cremated.