Arts & Life, Coronavirus, Features

Our experience: funerals in the time of coronavirus

“Our experience” is a series where Daily Forty-Niner reporters document their unique and nuanced experiences during this unprecedented time.

I passed my Mami Chela, my grandma, on my way to my great-grandmother’s coffin. 

We stood six-feet apart from each other and cried until it felt like we could no longer stand. 

From six-feet away I told my Mami Chela how much I loved her, how sorry I was that this happened. I can’t wait until all this is over to finally be able to hug her.  

My great-grandmother, Sara Urena Rubio, was buried in a graveyard with only five of her eight daughters present. The rest of us got to watch through Facebook Live. 

I will never take someone’s hug for granted ever again. Coronavirus has stripped so many families of their ability to mourn in a time when we are all feeling lonely. 

I long to embrace my family and am looking forward to the day when I can be free of quarantine. 

I hadn’t seen my great-grandmother for about a month before she passed. 

COVID-19 was creeping closer and closer to home, so my family and I took the precautions we needed to. We wanted to protect my 89-year-old great-grandmother who is high risk due to her age and weak lungs. 

The family agreed to not make our weekly visits to her and wait until the virus had passed.

I was half-awake trying to get up for work when my parents told me my great-grandmother had passed away at 5 a.m. while I was sleeping. 

My first thought was that I needed to see her. I needed to look at her one last time and give her a proper goodbye. 

My aunt Sari, who was her caretaker for the last months of her life, said she couldn’t have visitors. She didn’t want a bunch of people mourning over the body of my great-grandmother while coronavirus was around. I was furious, I channeled all my grief into screaming at my parents about how unfair it was that I wouldn’t be able to see her body one last time, screaming that I needed to see her in order to cope. 

All the yelling and screaming did no good. The family started a Zoom call where we got to hear everyone’s cries and wails through the laptop speakers. 

My mother and I got to try and guide my cousin on how to properly close my great-grandmother’s jaw with one of her scarfs. Family members prayed the rosary until we all got to stare at the computer screen and watch my great-grandmother’s lifeless body get taken away by the funeral home four-hours later. 

As days passed, the family called every funeral home and cemetery in our area to see if we would be able to hold a viewing or a funeral. The answer every time was “no.” 

No one would hold a funeral of more than five people in the time of COVID-19. 

So, for the sake of our own hearts, we held a secret viewing at a ranch located in the middle of nowhere. We scheduled 15-minute time slots so families who were quarantined together could say goodbye to my great-grandmother. 

Everyone arrived and waited in their cars. I  just watched  people walk up to my great-grandmother’s coffin and spend their last 15-minutes with her body. I was grateful for the opportunity and the “safe” risk we were all taking as a family who loved their matriarch with all their hearts. 

That day turned out to be the most painful moment of my life. 

Although I got to see my great-grandma one last time, I was unable to hold or comfort the rest of my family.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Number of COVID-19 cases in Long Beach


Number of COVID-19 deaths in Long Beach


What to know about COVID-19

Common symptoms:

● Cough                   ● Fever

● Tiredness            ● Shortness of breath

● Chills                      ● Shaking

● Loss of taste      ● Loss of smell

● Muscle pain        ● Headache

● Sore throat

Symptoms can begin to present one to 14 days after initial exposure, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

How is it transmitted?

● Close contact with someone, such as shaking hands or hugging.

● Contact with droplets from a sneeze or cough.

● Touching of eyes, mouth or nose with dirty hands.

Are you at risk?

● Have you traveled to an affected area within the past two weeks?

● Have you had close contact with someone who is infected?

If yes to either, and you begin to present symptoms, call your doctor and ask to be tested. 

Prevention:

There is currently no treatment for COVID-19, but the CDC recommends measures to contain the spread of the virus.

● Self-isolate; avoid contact with others including pets; only leave your house for food or medical attention.

● Wear a face mask.

● Wash your hands often and for at least 20 seconds; sanitizer must contain over 60% alcohol to be effective.

● Clean “high-touch” areas every day.  

● Maintain a six-foot distance from other individuals; abide by “social distancing” recommendations. 

● Avoid gatherings with more than nine people. 

 Alert health officials if you think you have COVID-19; monitor your symptoms.


Daily 49er newsletter