MEMPHIS, Tenn. — COVID-19 has changed the way we live, but local funeral homes say it’s also changing the way we die.

Coronavirus is bringing more people to funeral homes. Unfortunately, no more than 50 people can attend a service, with no more than 15 for visitation.

“It’s nothing I’ve ever seen before in my lifetime,” said Melanie Burroughs with R.S. Lewis and Sons Funeral Home.

“If their loved one is sick and has caught COVID-19, in the hospital, unfortunately they haven’t been able to say goodbye in the way they would traditionally say, goodbye,” Burroughs said.

Funerals used to be a time of reflection – togetherness, the warmth of a hug, a sweet embrace. But with COVID constrictions, it’s not anymore.

“In this kind of environment, people want to hug. When you lose someone, that’s the first thing you want to do. It’s just a natural inclination to hug somebody,” Burroughs said. “But now, you have to think twice, it’s more, let’s fist bump.”

R.S. Lewis and Sons has been dedicated to Memphis for decades, but they’d never streamed a funeral service online until COVID-19.

“We had never done them before, but due to COVID-19 we had to figure it out, and figure it out pretty fast because families couldn’t come,” Burroughs said. “We just started going live and families really enjoyed being apart in a different type of way, and a lot of people have been able to express their condolences online in a live way.”

Burroughs said her industry is having to adapt to the new normal, and rules are changing. But one thing that never changes is that grieving is still hard.