CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s the worst time for social distancing when a loved one dies.
Strict gathering guidelines will be in place for some time. So how do you balance holding a funeral under such circumstances?
AS CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, it is not easy by any means – as federal guidelines suggest gatherings of no more than 10 people. But a local doctor found an innovative way to honor his father during these times.
During a global pandemic, one funeral involved video conferencing – and not just those stuck working from home.
“I’m a big fan of technology and I like doing things in different ways,” said Dr. Sunil Shroff.
Shroff definitely found a unique way to honor his father, Chad Shroff, who died Sunday, while practicing social distancing
“A funeral cannot wait,” Shroff said. “A lot of the people who would attend this funeral would be the elderly people who are the most vulnerable and the most at risk.”
From musical tributes to eulogies, the entire funeral was streamed live for Shroff’s friends and family who couldn’t travel or didn’t want to risk being around others due to COVID-19 concerns.
Loved ones were able to interact and write comments that were projected on screens.
“This was really interactive, because they could talk to us by typing and then we responded by voice,” Shroff said.
We were able to make a sad situation happy for those that were able to tune in
Allen Childs’ company, All Pro Audio Visual, made the live stream happen. De Mar talked with him over Skype.
within 24 hours, we were actually on site at funeral home kind of setting up our aspect video cameras and the webcast portion,” Childs said.
A live-streamed funeral was a first for the Bolingbrook McCauley Chapel and Crematorium, but maybe not the last.
“Me and the staff got together and discuss making this part of our regular offering, given the coronavirus is going to be around for some time,” said Fred McCauley of the chapel.”
“Some people think it would work effectively,” Shroff said.
The Archdiocese of Chicago also posted guidelines for its funerals:
- Funerals can proceed with immediate family members but should not exceed more than 10 people (this number is per CDC guidance as of Tuesday, March 17, and is in effect until further notice)
- If this condition is met, the funeral Mass must take place in the church
- It is strongly recommended that no one from a vulnerable population attend
- Social distancing (six feet) should be observed with attendees requested to sit apart
- No physical contact at any point; no physical Sign of Peace, while offering comfort, etc.
- If Holy Communion is distributed it is to be done so in the hand; please suspend the sharing of the common cup for the blood of Christ
- After the funeral Mass, the physical space within the church must be cleaned and sanitized.
Wakes and Viewings
- Viewings will only be conducted in cases when the body has been embalmed
- Wakes and visitation can proceed with immediate family members, but again should not exceed more than 10 people in attendance at any given time
- Social distancing (six feet) should be observed as much as possible
- Care should be taken to provide comfort to the bereaved without physical contact
- Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes should be provided
- Funeral directors must consider how best to comply by the guidelines provided by the CDC and the Archdiocese of Chicago.
- The committal of the body should be done at the gravesite; again, with immediate family not to exceed 10 people.
No pre- or post-service social gathering is allowed in parish buildings or on parish property.