Saying goodbye, from a distance: Mourners craft new and innovative funeral practices to honor the dead during pandemic

CHICAGO — Hours before the grandfather died on a COVID-19 hospital floor, his closest kin entered the room two at a time, all covered in protective gowns, gloves, masks and face shields . Barely breathing, the family patriarch pointed to each of his loved ones, then to his heart, and raised a fist in the air. This was not how relatives had envisioned their last moments with 68-year-old Rubén Beltrán of northwest suburban Hanover Park, one of more than 12,000 lives lost to the new virus in Illinois and 1.4 million worldwide. “But it was a blessing that we were able to say goodbye,” said grandda…

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