Families face tough decisions planning funerals with social distancing restrictions

FORDLAND, Mo. (KY3) -- Social distancing requirements from the coronavirus grieving families around the Ozarks in a painful position. Visitations are restricted to just 10 people and graveside services to immediate family only.

Sisters Renee Wallace and Rachelle Miller, along with their cousin Shelia Hoggatt, laid their uncle to rest Friday.

"We're all still in shock, the way we've had to go about things," Wallace said.

The cousins said planning the funeral was stressful because they had to limit who could say goodbye one last time.

"He was one of nine, actually 10 children," Wallace said. "So, it was hard. They said we have to lock the door behind you, or you can come anytime you want but if there's 10 people in here you can't come in and see him."

Immediate family gathered Friday at the Fordland Cemetery for the first time since 80 year-old Russell Hennigh's death.

"It's like we've done everything by ourselves, so the mourning for us has been rough because we've had to do it without our loved ones and togetherness," Miller said.

The cousins said they are no stranger to funerals, but they never expected to attend their uncle's funeral like this.

"It's not our typical family funeral," Wallace said. "We've lost several others, even recently, and we all got to meet, and we all got to be together and kiss your cheek, and now they're like stay six feet apart."

The cousins said their uncle Russell was well known in Seymour, and the virtual support has been overwhelming.

"I've got over 200 comments on my Facebook post of his funeral services," Wallace said. "They all wish they could give me a hug and a kiss or just see us to give their condolences and that's made it really hard."

Hoggatt said she feels for other families who are planning funerals during this unusual time.

"I grieve for all of the families that are having to because this has been just thrown up on everybody. If you haven't been in this situation you don't realize how difficult it is," she said.

Hoggatt said she would like hold another memorial service for her uncle when the social distancing regulations are lifted.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.