SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — The grieving process has changed significantly for those who have lost a loved one during the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic.
Gatherings like a funeral or wake are limited to 5 people by the state, and that has made for some really difficult decisions.
However, a South Portland funeral home has found a way to remind grieving families they aren't alone.
"When somebody passes away you need that support from the community, you need that support from friends and family," said Adam Walker, the funeral director at Conroy-Tully Walker Funeral Home in South Portland.
When your heart feels heavy a hug can mean a lot. Especially from someone who knows your pain.
"People can't be hugging one another now, unfortunately....it's tough."
Due to the latest mandate from the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic, funeral and memorial services are limited to five people.
"Those families lose that very real need of having that broader support from the community."
Walker has found a way to make sure when families arrive at the home to pay their final respects the room is still full.
A white balloon is tied to every chair for each person who should be there.
"Families absolutely are completely taken back when they walk into this room and they see it full of balloons from people who have called to offer their support," he said.
Each one includes a note from the person.
"Some of them are funny stories or memories. But really it's just words of hope and support."
Support for families feeling incomplete, who no longer have to mourn in an empty room.
The program is called Hugs from Home.
Funeral Home directors everywhere have had to adapt during this time by meeting and making plans with families over the phone and through video platforms.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus