Social distancing impacting families saying goodbye to their loved ones

Social distancing impacting families saying goodbye to their loved ones
A picture taken Friday at a graveside service in Chambers County shows the harsh reality of what families are dealing with while saying goodbye to their loved ones. It wasn’t easy for Sandra Thornton to see all the chairs spread out while she laid her brother Edward to rest. He recently passed away from complications related to diabetes. (Source: WBRC)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A picture taken Friday at a graveside service in Chambers County shows the harsh reality of what families are dealing with while saying goodbye to their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It wasn’t easy for Sandra Thornton to see all the chairs spread out while she laid her brother Edward to rest. He recently passed away from complications related to diabetes.

“There is no hugging, no touching..at a time in your life when you really need someone..you know people are there for you. It was just so different,” Thornton said.

Thornton says social distancing is only adding to her family’s grief.

“You just need other people to help you through this. You can’t even help your family members because you can’t touch them. I just looked around and it made it even sadder,” Thornton said.

Arlillian Bushelon with Bushelon Funeral Home in Birmingham knows the new norm with social distancing is going to be tough for families.

“We are trying to be as sensitive as possible, but we do want everyone to be safe,” Bushelon said.

The same rules also apply to visitation. The funeral home is asking families to spread out as much as possible. There’s extra hand sanitizer in each visitation room. Bushelon is also giving families extra options during their time of grief.

"They understand that this is the closure that they're going to have to have at his time for their loved one but at any time, they want to have a memorial service or another type of gathering once this mandate is lifted, we'll be glad to help them with that,” Bushelon said.

Bushelon says in her line of work, she and her staff can’t be as personable as they would like because of social distancing. She says it’s been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone.

Copyright 2020 WBRC. All rights reserved.