Lexington, South Carolina— No one stands in line to embrace the widow and share memories of her husband of 50 years. No rows of family and friends file toward the flag-draped coffin to pay their last respects. No symphony of sniffles is heard across the room as the minister gives a final prayer.
Instead, a handful of people are scattered across one chapel row as if they’re strangers, not blood. White roses are pinned to empty chairs, representing those who couldn’t be there. An iPad on a tripod livestreams the service for people stuck at home across state lines.
“This is going to be a different experience for all of us,” the minister tells the half-dozen people gathered at a South Carolina funeral home to celebrate the life of J. Robert Coleman, an Army veteran, husband to Gloria, father to three sons and grandfather to three children. “But one thing that will be common is that as we conduct this service today, we’re going to open with a prayer….”
Chapel chairs are separated. No hugs or handshakes. An iPad livestreams the service. The coronavirus outbreak, stay-at-home orders and social distancing are dramatically altering how families and communities celebrate loved ones at funeral services. https://t.co/0jhSFcq11P
— AP South U.S. Region (@APSouthRegion) April 4, 2020