A 91-year old woman died at a Manhattan assisted living facility due to coronavirus, and her family were unable to organize the funeral as they are scattered across the country.
Because of this, the funeral director stepped up and sought help in an online neighborhood forum to “contribute items for her funeral.”
It only took minutes for Brooklyn residents to step forward and offer their assistance.
One resident, Rebecca Benghiat, embroidered a fabric nameplate with the word “Mom”, which went onto the eco-friendly felt casket.
Another resident, Kimberly Lisi, replied on the request, “I will contribute lilacs — our lilac bush is bursting with blooms!”
These simple yet modest gifts helped to bring warmth to the socially distant funeral for the stranger, Winifred Pardo, who was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx on Wednesday.
As the family followed New York’s rule to ban gatherings of any size, they watched the funeral service through a video stream set up by one of the funeral director’s assistant.
Beth Pardo, one of Winifred’s daughters who watched the service from Pennsylvania, expressed how she was touched by the support from strangers.
“It’s such a painful time for so many people, and you know death is all around so many of us, and all of us together find community and to find connection is helping me get through it,” she said, “I think it has turned what felt very stark and harsh and lonely into this beautiful thing.”
Amy Cunningham, owner of Fitting Tribute Funeral Services in Brooklyn, solicited the gifts for Winifred’s funeral.
Cunningham has been arranging burials for the novel coronavirus victims, and decided to seek help from her neighbors.
Recalling her decision, she said, “Funerals used to be managed by neighborhoods and communities and families on their own, so why don’t I put up the message out, and so many people are at home and maybe wanting to do something helpful.”