Funeral homes, mourners adapt to honoring loved ones during social distancing

Posted at 2:10 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 17:33:29-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va - Everyday life and - now even, death - is being affected by the coronavirus.

Mourners must now grapple with grief in small gatherings, not with dozens of families members by their side.

If you open the obituary section of any newspaper in Hampton Roads, the wording has also changed. Funerals are "postponed," "private," or "held at a later date."

"This virus is certainly changing tradition," said Ryan Moore, Funeral Director at Graham Funeral Home in Chesapeake.

For centuries, people have been responding to death with communal events, but during this pandemic, families are banned to grieve in large numbers.

"It really puts a challenge on us. We are trying our best to offer additional options to families to where they can still move forward through the natural grieving process and have support from community," Moore explained.

Moore is following the federal guidelines while still servicing families. Right now, he can have no more than 10 people gathered inside his location for a funeral, wake or visitation at any given time.

"Part of this is offering options to families on how they need personally to move forward to grieving process," said Moore.

So, his team is working to bring comfort with their live stream service -- the only one of its kind in Hampton Roads. It's a way to pay respects virtually, not in person.

"All you need is an internet access to be here live with us in spirit, not necessarily tangible, but to participate in our celebration of life services. The delay is less than a second," Moore stated. "Folks that are not in our chapel can participate from anywhere in the world."

Cemeteries across Hampton Roads are also complying with this new climate. In city-owned cemeteries in Norfolk, only 25 people are allowed to gather outside for a graveside service or burial. Cemetery employees also only meet with three family members at a time.

"We want to be able to say, 'You don't have to postpone your grief because of mandates and public safety.' There are ways to still come together," said Moore.

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