With a prolonged lockdown, an increasing number of deaths and strict funeral protocols, people are opting for alternative ways to grieve.

The Africa Evangelical Church Women’s fellowship group in Johannesburg, bid farewell to one of its own with a drive-through condolence session.

AEC Church member Babalwa Mabitsela says that although they couldn’t go to the funeral due to the regulations, they wanted closure after losing one of their own.

“We went to the same church with the deceased and we decided because of the regulations that are existing at the moment, most of us won’t be in a position to attend the funeral and we also need closure. So we decided to organise a drive through memorial for our sister.”

Pastor Hellen Gqobha from AEC church says bidding farewell to loved ones has been hard lately.

“We last saw each other before the lockdown and to come bid farewell in this manner; it actually breaks our hearts.”

Pastor Gqobha says this is a new normal.

“It really breaks our hearts because we can’t even reach to those who are weak and touch them. That’s why we’ve asked them to come in groups so that when one is weak, then the other ones can drive.”

The neighbours also observed from a distance.

“This virus has opened a huge gap between us as a society; we can’t bury our loved ones like before. It’s like we have lost love for each other. In the past two weeks, this virus has stripped us of our family members and neighbours. The sad part is that we can’t gather anymore,” says one neighbour.

The COVID-19 lockdown regulations have made the goodbyes so much harder and will probably be the reality for some time to come.

South Africans find alternative ways to mourn: