Day 117 – Funerals during COVID-19

One of our closest friends mother died in early April – Not from Covid – and things being what they were, the funeral was delayed.

But on Sunday, July 5th – our friend decided to hold a funeral and a ‘life celebration’ for her mother.

We couldn’t really avoid going. It would be impossible to explain our absence – and despite my mis-giving on the topic, we promised to attend.

So Sunday found me in a car, heading to a funeral home in Laval, dressed sombrely as befits a funeral – and with huge butterfly’s doing the tango in my stomach.

I don’t like funerals under any conditions, but this one really had me on edge. Quebec had recently approved social gatherings for up to 50 people, and had not yet required masks to be worn indoors – so while we had our masks, I wasn’t sure what to expect at the funeral home.

Do keep in mind that today – 2 weeks later – the rules have changed. Now Masks are required for indoor gatherings – for any movement in an indoor space – but on July 5th – that wasn’t the rule.

Our friend had chosen one of the largest funeral complexes in Laval – there were at least 5 other ‘life celebrations’ being held at the same place at the same time – and attendance was significant judging by the number of cars. My comfort level was not increased…

We parked and walked to the entrance where we were greeted by an employee of the home, properly masked, who had a check-list of the day’s funerals. He directed us to first use sanitizer, and then to go the Ste-Dorothy room for our friend’s mothers memorial. Plexiglass barriers surrounded the staff desk, but the huge open 3 story high central entrance room was not barricaded. There were signs implying one-way traffic, but no one was in the main entrance.

So far, so good

But when we entered the St. Dorothy room – I panicked. I know – I never panic – but this time – I promise you – I was absolutely alarmed. My stomach did one of those scary flip-flops, and I caught my breath.

My friend had done everything expected of a ‘life celebration’. Her mother’s ashes were on display, there were pictures of her mother next to the ashes, and there was a slide show of images on a large screen.

All this I saw, but I also saw that there were about 45 people in the room, most not wearing masks – including our good friend. While the funeral home had placed chairs to prevent people from getting too close to each other – it was clear that social distancing was not happening.

Forcing myself to keep calm – and carefully keeping social distance, I moved closer to my friend, said how sorry I was for her loss, how we had to get together soon to celebrate her birthday, and then told my husband I was leaving.

And I left.

I’m definitely not ready for larger gatherings.

The Soup Lady

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