Editor's note: Christina King's brother Raymond Pizzo died on April 1. King and Pizzo come from a large family, so when she discovered that only 10 people would be allowed at the funeral home because of the restrictions demanded by Covid-19, she was at a loss. She was at a loss until she discovered the app Zoom. The Monroe resident shared her experience because she wanted people to have an option in their time of grief.
On the morning of April 1, 2020, my brother Raymond Pizzo passed away and his body didn’t receive an autopsy until April 6.
The reason he didn’t receive his autopsy until then is because we had to wait on his Covid-19 test to come back.
We knew he wasn’t sick, but it didn’t matter and we understood the protocol.
That doesn’t make it any easier wondering. We are still wondering.
The test came back negative and they were able to perform the autopsy.
However, the testing is backed up for his toxicology report and some cultures, all because Covid-19 before they can rule a cause of death.
A mother's desire to put her son to rest
While all this is going on we decide to start setting up his arrangements.
It was making us sick just sitting around waiting. My mom just wanted to put her son to rest.
When we get to the funeral home we found out there would be only ten people allowed to be there and that the churches are shut down there will be no mass service, speeches, gathering of friends and family or priest to come.
With the ten-person limit, not everyone could say goodbye to him.
A large family
These are all necessary for people to grieve properly. My brother came from a large family; my mom was one of fifteen. Most of them are married and have children of their own.
Raymond had thirteen nieces and nephews and six people besides him in his immediate family.
Then you have to remember it’s not just families - you have coworkers and his friends.
This made us even more upset as he deserved so much more. The truth is everyone who has passed on during this time deserves more then what they are getting.
Also the families deserve to grieve properly.
That what this letter is for.
On April 8th the ten of us gathered at the funeral home and we decided to use a program called Zoom. It is completely free and can be on your cellphone, tablet or computer etc.
Zoom is used by companies for conference calls. When I heard about this app I had no idea what I was doing, but I still figured it out and watched videos on how to use it. My mother is in her 60’s and knows nothing about computers and can barely work her own phone. That was also the same for some of my aunt and uncles.
We worked at it for days make sure people were comfortable login in and had it set up. While using the app you can chose to be seen or not to have your mic on or not.
We made the first half hour about my mom getting greeted and condolences sent as If they were there, but without contact.
Then we informed everyone that we were going to view my brother, so people had an option to get off if they couldn’t do it.
Final words as if they were there and in private
We brought the cell phone to the casket and gave a side view. This is where everyone on the conference video call can turn off their mic and say their peace and final words as if they were there and in private.
After that was all said and done, we had the Deacon come give him his rite of committal and only one person was allowed to stay to watch; we had it streaming in the conference video chat.
The nine of us who had to leave and the friends and family all over the USA could see Raymond and Deacon. This was very important to us as our family is very religious.
I had spoken to aunts, uncles and my family afterwards to ask how it went. My mom said it helped them grieve properly.
I know it sounds so weird I almost didn’t do it. I’m now glad I did because everyone needed that.
A great option
This might not be an option for everyone, but it’s a great option for those who want to use it.
We will be holding a service at the church after this whole thing with Covid-19 is over. I just have to get the word out there to families and people suffering through the same thing.
We were the first to use it at our funeral home. There are options. Thank you for listening.