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From weddings to funerals, the coronavirus is canceling life's biggest moments and leaving families heartbroken

COVID-19 is restricting group gatherings, forcing couples to cancel their weddings—and strangling the small businesses that make them possible.

Posted: Mar 20, 2020 9:50 AM


For months, Terri Campbell prepared as best she could for what felt like the inevitable heartbreak of losing a sibling.

Her 50-year-old sister, Kelli Mercer, had been lying in a nursing home for over two years after her health deteriorated from a slew of medical issues including kidney disease and diabetes. Her death was looming.

But when Mercer died last Friday, Campbell found herself both devastated and frustrated. As Campbell was making funeral arrangements in Punta Gorda, Florida, where she resides, a funeral home told her she wouldn't be able to hold a memorial service to honor the life of her beloved sister -- all because of the novel coronavirus.

"Knowing that we can't celebrate her when her presence is so fresh in people's minds is heartbreaking," Campbell told CNN.

From funerals and weddings, to baby showers and graduations, the coronavirus pandemic has caused families all over the world to cancel or postpone life's biggest moments.

Of course, people impacted by these scheduling changes understand that social distancing is for the greater good of mitigating the virus' spread. But, many said they feel as though the pandemic couldn't have come at a worse time.

Funerals on hold

Every day, there are more than 7,000 deaths in the US, which means every day, thousands of funerals take place. With the pandemic in full swing, Campbell is among the many forced to cancel or postpone these funerals.

Campbell had expected 100 guests at her sister's funeral service. But with the CDC advising against events with 10 people or more, she had no choice but to put the gathering on hold.

"The feeling of not being able to stand up and tell everyone how great she was and not being able to hear stories from others about her...Her life deserves to be celebrated," Campbell said.

As the death toll related to the coronavirus continues to rise, the CDC is now encouraging live-streaming funerals as an alternative to in-person gatherings.

An abrupt end to wedding season

Wedding season, the most popular time of the year to get married, had just kicked off when the coronavirus pandemic threw everything awry.

In New Jersey, 31-year-old Kelly Williams was all set to walk down the aisle on Friday. But as the cases of the virus started rising, her guests started dropping out.

First, her grandfather backed out, which she found especially upsetting given that he is her only living grandparent. Next, came relatives on her fiancé's side.

"Pretty much every day, I'm getting new calls with people telling me they don't think they're going to be able to make it," Williams told CNN. "That's really devastating because, I mean, a wedding is a wedding. But it's also a family gathering, (and) being able to see all the people that you love."

Six days before the wedding, Williams decided to push back the date to November. The silver lining? Because she made the decision almost a week out, no flowers went to waste.

Sarah Lahbati, however, didn't have the luxury of time when it came to canceling the floral order.

The famous Filipino actress had a grand wedding planned at a hotel in Manila, Philippines for March 14. But two days before her wedding, she and her fiancé, Filipino actor Richard Gutierrez, made the difficult decision to postpone.

Hundreds of flowers had already arrived in Manila with nowhere to go. Still, instead of tossing them in the trash, Lahbati decided to donate them to local churches and hospitals to bring some brightness during a difficult time for health workers.

"I know flowers aren't surgical masks or medicine, but I'm hoping they will provide simple happiness during these dark times," Lahbati told CNN.

Lahbati and Gutierrez ended up getting married in a simple, intimate ceremony, with just their closest friends and family in attendance.

"The big gathering to celebrate with all our loved ones, friends and colleagues will have to wait because we care more about everyone's safety and health," Lahbati wrote in her Instagram post.

Giving birth without family by your side

In an effort to help contain the coronavirus outbreak, many hospitals have implemented strict restrictions on the number of visitors allowed in each room. Some hospitals have outright banned anyone -- even husbands -- from visiting.

While the new measures are necessary from a medical perspective, they have given some expecting parents additional anxiety.

Maria Morrow of South Orange, New Jersey, was already on edge because her baby was five days late. After she found out her mother, sister and mother-in-law wouldn't be able by her bedside for moral support, she said she grew more nervous.

When her daughter Anna Therese Adelaide was born on Thursday, just her husband was present.

Still, Morrow looked at the bright side.

"While they aren't here, I have been getting a lot of support from friends near and far," the mother of seven told CNN. "One ordered pizza for my kids last night, and another organized a generous 'care package' of food to be sent to us... Also, the joyful news of her birth is something positive. She's already bringing joy!"

Other expecting parents are struggling with figuring out plans they made around their due dates.

Elizabeth Dung, whose baby is due on May 17, had everything prepared for her panda-themed baby shower. The first-time mom-to-be had already made the guest list and purchased all the decorations.

The 20-year-old from Buffalo, New York, said she was excited for the arrival of the baby she has already named Trey. But when it came time to find a venue for the event, most places she looked at were unwilling to rent out their spaces. So she was forced to cancel.

"It was just supposed to be a good time to enjoy everyone's presence and celebrate a life coming into the world," Dung said. "Having a baby is scary, especially having to do it alone. I wanted the moral support."

No one knows how long this pandemic will continue to uproot lives. But for those going through similar experiences, Campbell shared advice on how she pushed through her sister's passing.

"It's going to be hard, but you have to wait it out," she said. "Take faith in the fact that it will get better."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30900

Reported Deaths: 1111
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds249840
DeSoto159416
Madison130034
Jones112449
Neshoba98871
Rankin93412
Harrison91211
Lauderdale90979
Forrest86942
Scott77115
Jackson62216
Copiah60215
Washington5849
Leake57819
Holmes55341
Lee54718
Wayne54513
Oktibbeha54126
Warren51518
Yazoo5096
Leflore48751
Grenada4835
Lowndes48313
Lincoln46034
Lamar4587
Pike43112
Monroe40130
Lafayette3914
Sunflower3727
Attala36023
Covington3565
Panola3506
Newton3399
Bolivar33414
Simpson3173
Adams31118
Pontotoc2866
Tate28310
Marion28111
Chickasaw27718
Claiborne27410
Noxubee2638
Jasper2626
Winston2616
Pearl River25432
Clay25010
Marshall2323
Smith21811
Clarke20724
Union2079
Coahoma2016
Walthall1995
Kemper17914
Lawrence1772
Yalobusha1707
Carroll16511
Humphreys1479
Tallahatchie1364
Itawamba1358
Montgomery1322
Calhoun1304
Tippah13011
Hancock12813
Webster12710
Jefferson Davis1114
Prentiss1083
Jefferson1073
Greene1058
Tunica1003
Wilkinson949
Amite912
George883
Tishomingo801
Quitman760
Choctaw744
Alcorn692
Perry664
Stone651
Franklin452
Sharkey370
Benton360
Issaquena91
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 43450

Reported Deaths: 984
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5221152
Montgomery4127103
Mobile4080134
Tuscaloosa228842
Marshall171110
Madison14307
Lee138437
Shelby128423
Morgan11025
Walker93924
Elmore92514
Franklin89514
Dallas8809
Baldwin8649
Etowah73913
DeKalb7195
Butler63328
Chambers62927
Autauga60712
Tallapoosa59169
Russell5520
Unassigned50323
Houston4964
Limestone4950
Lauderdale4906
Lowndes47221
Cullman4524
Pike4295
Colbert3956
St. Clair3822
Coffee3772
Bullock36910
Covington3587
Calhoun3545
Escambia3506
Barbour3492
Hale31121
Talladega3097
Marengo30211
Wilcox2918
Dale2880
Sumter28512
Clarke2746
Jackson2732
Winston2583
Chilton2462
Blount2351
Monroe2352
Pickens2356
Marion22413
Conecuh2097
Randolph2069
Choctaw19512
Macon1949
Bibb1901
Greene1868
Perry1771
Henry1343
Crenshaw1253
Washington1097
Lawrence1080
Cherokee977
Geneva800
Lamar771
Fayette701
Clay652
Coosa581
Cleburne361
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