CHICAGO — Tucked deep in the obituary for Charles Recka was an announcement that a Mass celebrating his 87 years of life “will be held at a later date.”
Such notices are increasing amid the coronavirus pandemic, as an untold number of burials around the globe go forward with nothing more than a priest, a funeral home employee and a single loved one.
While in some places, bodies of people who have died from COVID-19 are stacking up at hospitals and people are buried quickly in the clothes they died in, Recka’s death from an unrelated long illness tells a different story: One of families whose grief just happened to arrive amid a pandemic that has them terrified to even share a church pew with loved ones, let alone hug them.
Recka’s daughter, Dawn Bouska, sees no choice but to prevent her twin 11-year-old boys and their 14-year-old sister from getting any closer to their grandmother than the other side of the window at the senior living center where she lives.
“I don’t know if these kids are carriers, (but) I can’t risk losing my mom,” said Bouska, 52, of Naperville, Illinois. “At the time she needs to be hugging these kids more than ever it’s unsafe to do so.”
Recka’s experience is part of the new normal when it comes to funerals. Daughters of a retired police officer don’t dare get on a plane to fly to Chicago for his funeral out of fear they could be separated from their children for weeks if they are placed under quarantine. Some veterans cemeteries in the U.S. have stopped holding memorial services altogether, after first telling older veterans to stay away.