CHICAGO (AP) — The coronavirus that has upended nearly every element of public life also has dramatically changed the way people grieve for the dead.
Ministers have closed their doors to funerals.
Fear of quarantine has prevented families from flying in to pay their last respects.
Cemeteries have drastically altered what they do out of fear that some mourners who don't know they are infected with coronavirus might infect others.
Some cemeteries aren’t allowing any graveside services at all.
“We just take deceased up to the grave and bury them,” Terry Harmon, the owner of Orange, California’s Chapman Funeral Home, told The Associated Press.
And elderly people who have lost spouses can't hug or so much as be in the same room with their children and grandchildren at the exact time they need them most.
The Recka family is facing these problems now, following the death of 87-year-old Charles Recka. Although he didn’t die from COVID-19, the timing of his death fell during the pandemic and his family tells AP that they’re afraid to grieve with loved ones, because of the risk of infecting each other with the virus.
Recka’s daughter, Dawn Bouska, told the AP that she sees no choice but to prevent her children from getting closer to their grandmother than the other side of the window at the senior living center where she lives.
“I don’t know if these kids are carriers, (but) I can’t risk losing my mom,” said Bouska, 52, of Naperville, Illinois. “At the time she needs to be hugging these kids more than ever it’s unsafe to do so.”
Because of their fears, the Recka family decided to hold a mass celebrating Charles’ life at a later date.
Sadly, this is becoming the new normal.