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How Funerals and Graveside Rites Are Changing With Social Distancing

The coffin of Luke Leo House Jr. before interment at the Inglewood Cemetery. (Emily Elena Dugdale/LAist)
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The COVID-19 outbreak is changing life all over Southern California and placing new limits on how we observe our religious and cultural rituals of death.

The funeral industry has responded by asking families to cancel or postpone large memorial gatherings in their chapels, and cemeteries are severely limiting the number of people who may attend graveside ceremonies.

That’s putting families in the uncomfortable position of persuading relatives to stay away or stay apart after a loved one dies.

At the Islamic Center of Los Angeles, only licensed mortuary workers may do the traditional bathing and wrapping of the dead, a task that previously could include family members. And the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva has been moved online in some households.

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