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BLOOMINGTON — Carmody-Flynn Funeral Home has created a dedicated space where people mourning the death of a loved one can gather to eat, drink and share memories in a more comfortable environment. 

The newly designed Gathering Room was unveiled at a special event Wednesday night at the funeral home at 1800 Eastland Drive, Bloomington.

“It gives people a more casual approach and allows everyone to gather together in a more relaxed atmosphere,” said Alex Calvert, a partner with Carmody-Flynn Funeral Home in Bloomington. “It moves us toward having another option.”

It also would help to reduce long receiving lines at visitations by giving people another place to gather, Calvert added.

“Sharing stories with friends and family is such an important part of a visitation, and with this area people are free to mingle around and visit with their friends or meet people who were special in that person’s life,” he said.

Hy-Vee, working in partnership with Carmody-Flynn, will offer users of the room an extensive food and beverage menu, including soft drinks, beer, wine.

“We want people to feel like it’s more of a gathering and can have some refreshments and enjoy themselves while remembering and honoring their loved one,” Calvert said.

The Gathering Room concept is something the community has needed for a while, said Steve Hall, partner and funeral director at Carmody-Flynn.

“Things are changing and we have to keep up with the times," he said. "We are fortunate enough to have the space to do something like this.”

Funeral homes in other cities, usually bigger ones, have successfully used variations of the Gathering Room, Hall said. Plans began about six months ago to transform part of the space at the funeral home into the Gathering Room area.

“We redid it, with new flooring, new furniture, a seating area and a place to get food and drinks,” he said.

The room is equipped with a sound system and a microphone that can be passed around if those in attendance wish to tell stories.

“People want to share stories and remember all of the wonderful times,” Calvert said. “That’s what we call ‘the hurdle.’ When we work with families, it’s important for them to know that they are important and their loved one is important. So we want to make that hurdle for them, a little bit easier and comforting.”

Contact Kevin Barlow at (309) 820-3238. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_barlow

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Agriculture Reporter

Agriculture reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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