BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The coronavirus pandemic is forcing one vital industry to adapt on a daily basis.

Funeral homes are not only anticipating unprecedented need, but they’re also having to change how they comfort and console those who are grieving.

Patric Fleming is General Manager at Baltimore’s Loudon Park Funeral Home.

He said Gov. Larry Hogan’s mandate limiting gatherings to no more than 10 people has dramatically affected the way families can grieve.

“We are really trying to discourage families from holding public viewings, families are scared. We’ve had several families that have canceled visitations and have opted only for grave site services,” Fleming said.

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That’s what the family of Shirley Mulligan chose to do when she died March 26.

Shirley lived with her daughter Dawn, who also decided because of the impact of the coronavirus on hospitals, to let her mom die peacefully at home.

Dawn also decided against a viewing.

“You’re looking at putting your family, your friends, the staff at the funeral home… all of these people, you are putting at risk,” she said.

Shirley’s graveside service was streamed on Facebook Live so that loved ones could witness the burial.

The five people who attended sat or stood six feet apart. Dawn told WJZ it was emotional torture not to be able to hug or physically comfort one another.

“It makes you realize how much you do take for granted,” she said.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has asked funeral homes to limit services to graveside.

Fleming said he has been taking photos for families who are missing this important last life chapter, and using the funeral home’s interactive website to allow them to express their grief.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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