The weekend before the governor issued the order — no gatherings larger than 10 people — Tom Roper was at a funeral in North Platte.
“Everyone was hugging each other and kissing each other.”
But by the time the president of Roper and Sons returned to work a few days later, the coronavirus changed everything.
“We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the whole thing.”
They’re adjusting, he said.
“Last week, I think all of our funerals were in the chapel. Earlier this week, all of them were at the graveside.”
On Wednesday, they livestreamed two services so mourners could watch from home.
The practice of social distancing to slow the spread of the pandemic is apparent on the newspaper’s obituary pages. Celebrations of life delayed until a later date. Staggered visitations. Facebook Live services.
“We are noticing that a lot of people — in the 90% range — are doing a burial now with the option of doing a memorial service down the road,” said John Love, vice president of Butherus, Maser and Love.
People have been understanding and cooperative, the funeral directors said.
“Our heart goes out to the families,” Love said. “It doesn’t help them go through the grieving process any easier."
This week, he’s watched a daughter dealing with the death of her mother with two sisters in far-away states with high rates of COVID-19 who can’t return.
Her father has dementia and lives in a nursing home, Love said, and it’s unclear whether he will be able to attend his wife’s graveside service.
“It might just be the daughter and her son.”
At Colonial Chapel, families have also been very understanding of the situation, said funeral director Christian Biester.
On Tuesday, they extended a visitation to seven hours.
“So people could flow in and out while keeping the 10-person limit.”
Colonial Chapel is also offering livestream funerals through YouTube with a link on its website.
“We are saying you can be at the funeral at home, just like churches are doing for Sunday services,” Biester said.
More pre-funeral planning is being done over the phone, he said, and, if people are sick, they are asked to stay home.
“We work with a lot of elderly, and people are wanting to protect themselves as well.”
The change affects staff members, too.
At Roper and Sons, half of its employees work one week and half the next to protect their safety and the safety of others.
Ropers has also started a “Hugs from Home” program. Friends and family can log onto the Roper and Sons website and leave a message, which is attached to a white helium-filled balloon and tied to chairs in the chapel.
“At least they have a visual that shows people care.”
Roper and Sons has been in Lincoln since 1901, here during the flu pandemic of 1918.
Photos of the founding generations line a wall at the funeral home, Roper said.
“I walk by, and I’m watching their eyes and wondering what they’ve experienced in their lifetimes compared to this.”
Photos: The scene in Lincoln with much of the city shut down
Holmes Lake Manor Horse Visit
Memorial Day Weekend
Lancaster County Courthouse
Church Social Distancing
Boys and Girls Club food distribution
Children of Smithfield
Parkview Christian Teacher Appreciation Day
Signs on South 16th
Reopening Hair Salon
Lincoln Christian 2020 Seniors
Test Nebraska site
Drive-Thru Career Fair
Center for People In Need food distribution
Gateway Mall, 5.1
Former Cop Birthday Drive-by
Masks For Truckers
O Street cruising
Bryan Mobile Testing
Teacher and Staff Parade
Teacher and Staff Parade
Air and Army National Guard COVID-19 testing
South 27th and Washington Streets mural
Sunken Gardens tea party picnic
Thanks to LJS
Spring Game Emptiness
Grata Bar & Lounge
Eagle with PPE
COVID-19 State Employee Union
Nebraska Crossing Outlets
Herbie Husker Runzas
Virtual City Council
Drive-by Easter egg hunt
Riding a bike
Drive-thru Easter Egg Hunt
Watch: Lincoln neighbors sing 'The Old Rugged Cross'
Good Friday Music
Masks on a walk
Peter Pan Park
Watch: A timelapse of the mural at Saro Cider
COVID-19 Workplace Safety
Watch: Steffany Lien twirls at birthday party
Shirts for FEMA
Saro Cider mural
Holmes Lake crowd
Watch: Hand sanitizer rolls off Innovation Campus assembly line
No fun here
Wildlife Safari Park
First Friday-Kiechel Fine Art
Nursing Home Horses
Tower Square sign
Noyes Art Gallery
Free ice cream
Coronavirus Testing CHI
Free lunch for truckers
Ready to paint
Holiday Inn Express
WATCH: Celebrating a birthday with a parade
Rock Island Trail
Gaga's Greenery & Flowers
Restaurant takeout and delivery
Barber Shop Restrictions
Virus Nursing Homes
Simpsons in the windows
Virus Outbreak Nebraska
Drive-thru COVID-19 testing
UNL Beekeeping virtual class
Lincoln Lutheran Online Teaching
Nowear BMX Compound
City golf courses
Braeda's social distancing
Biking for groceries
Playing with kids
The Bike Rack sign
St. Patrick's Day
LPS Chromebook pickup
People's City Mission
Food Bank of Lincoln
UNL Moving Out
Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @TheRealCLK
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.