‘None of This Is Easy': Coronavirus Risks Make Grieving Loved Ones Even More Painful

It's never easy to mourn the death of a loved one, but the pandemic's impact on funeral services makes that grief even more difficult

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The death of a loved one is a terrible experience made even more painful and confusing by the coronavirus pandemic.

Funeral homes are having to adapt in the face of the outbreak. It's a tough task when people want to come together in grief, but must now remain apart because of social distancing.

"[People have] always been able to gather as a family, and they find themselves in isolation now," said CR Lyons of Lyons and Sons Funeral Home in Danvers.

Lyons says funeral homes are doing what they can to bring solace to the bereaved.

"Most funeral homes today have websites where people can express their sympathies online," Lyons said. "It's not a perfect solution, of course, but it's something that we can offer."

Churches are also helping to define funerals in the age of COVID-19. The Archdiocese of Boston has put out new guidance.

Indoor wakes and funeral Masses have been canceled, but graveside services of 10 people or fewer are allowed, and memorial Masses will be held at a later date.

"None of this is easy, and at a time of grieving, more than ever, you kind of want to hug people, and you want to hang on them, and you want to spend a lot of time up close and personal, and we just cannot do that," said MC Sullivan, the chief health care ethicist for the Archdiocese.

Sullivan says most people have understood why these measures need to be taken.

"They understand completely. Many of these people have lost folks to coronavirus, and so they understand better than most," she said.

Families seem to be going ahead with burials instead of waiting, since storage is a problem.

Another issue for funeral homes is personal protective equipment, which workers use everyday.

"Certainly, there's a concern going forward that there's going to be a shortage in much the same way there is in the health care field," Lyons said.

It's a very difficult time for people who have lost loved ones, with their grief compounded by fear and the loss of personal contact.

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