COVID-19 pandemic forcing families to decide who attends funerals

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted every facet of American life.

For families who have recently lost loved ones, the way they say goodbye has changed as well.

The gates to many valley cemeteries have been locked though some will open to allow for families to bury loved ones.

The number of mourners allowed, though, is limited to between five and 10 people. That number applied to both the burial and services at a funeral home.

Anthony Cisneros with Farewell Funeral Service said, "People are used to coming out and celebrating someone's life and honoring their life and being there to help the family grieve through the process, so not allowing them to do that has made it difficult to do that for us as professionals, but also for the families on the receiving end."

Cisneros added business like he must follow state and local rules when it comes to social distancing.

Funerals typically draw immediate family, extended relatives and friends, so deciding who attends the services creates even more heartbreak.

He said, "It's been hard for families to wrap their heads around that, but most of them have been understanding."

The valley has reported over a dozen deaths due to the coronavirus. Their funeral services involve extra precautions.

Cisneros explained, "The cemetery staff and the funeral home staff are approaching it with more caution than we would normally simply because there are some unknowns there and we want to keep our staff safe. I haven't heard of any funeral homes in the area refusing any COVID cases."

He has heard of some cemeteries asking families to observe a burial service from their vehicles outside the gate.
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