Coronavirus: Funeral via Zoom gives SoCal family closure amid pandemic, social-gathering restrictions

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. (KABC) -- Families across the state have found themselves unable to lay their loved ones to rest with traditional funeral services because of social gathering restrictions.

That's where Luisa Armijo and her family found themselves.

"It was changing even every day, during the day and every hour," Armijo said.

Social gathering restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have limited mortuaries across like Green Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary to services with 10 people or less from the same household.

"There's many things we cannot do during at this time, but we are spending our time focusing on what we can offer them," said Tiffany Gallarzo, director of operations at Green Hills.

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Armijo said family and faith meant everything to 85-year-old Connie Mediano.

"She was always at every function, every birthday all the kids' graduations. Whether it was from kindergarten, preschool, all the way to college, she was just really involved -- very involved mom, very involved grandma and great grandma," Armijo said.

Embracing the grandchildren's tech savvy, everyone closest to Mediano from across California and out-of-state made it to her funeral service on Zoom.

The remote-conferencing service allows for meetings online by several people simultaneously.

Green Hills staff organized the event.

"In the Zoom funeral you can have many family members actually interacting within the service again, lending that emotional support when we're not able to lend that physical support at this time," Gallarzo said.

Armijo said with the formalities of a more traditional funeral out the door, there was more time to honor a family woman whose legacy lived on thanks to advancements in technology and the flexibility of a business looking for ways to help families cope with loss.

"We're doing birthdays, we're communicating with each other and if this wouldn't have happened, I don't think we would've maximized her legacy like we're doing now," Armijo said adding, "the mortuary are also first responders, because they responded to our grief and they brought closure."

Green Hills staff has started a green-ribbon and eternal-flame campaign putting up a light and ribbon for each person buried during this period of physical distancing. Their goal is to have one in-person event when restrictions are lifted for all families affected by the pandemic.
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