KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City family’s grief after a teenager was shot to death has deepened, because they can’t hold a proper funeral amid restrictions on gatherings and stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Gatherings of 10 people or more are banned across the Kansas City area to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 85,000 and killed more than 1,200 through Thursday.
On Tuesday, 19-year-old Tommie Collins was shot to death in Kansas City, Kansas.
His family is trying to plan a funeral in Kansas City, Missouri, but the current restrictions forbid large gatherings, even for funerals.
"I just want to see him,” Collins' mom, Yvonne Hampton, said.
Hampton said she hasn’t even been allowed to identify his body at the Jackson County Coroner's Office.
"I just want confirmation that’s my baby, you know, because I was calling his phone all yesterday hoping he would pick up,” she said.
Instead, the grief only intensifies for Collins' family.
"We can’t even bury him," his godmother, Denedra Jackson, said. " He doesn’t deserve to just be taken to the morgue to the cemetery. He doesn’t deserve that. He deserves to be around his loved ones."
Under normal circumstance, it's cathartic for a family to come together and mourn in such a heartbreaking time.
"Who are you to lean on in these times when you are by yourself? You need support,” Jackson said.
A local clergyman is trying to help.
"It’s a sense of relief when we’re able to be hands-on with our loved one," Highland Missionary Baptist Church Youth Minister Frank Savory, who is helping this family during this situation, said. "It’s already tragic when we lost them, but being told that we can’t congregate and mourn and celebrate the life of our loved one the way that we know how to do, it’s devastating."
Current restrictions are preventing funeral homes across Kansas City from conducting proper funerals. The only two options available are an immediate burial or cremation.
"It doesn’t allow families to view their lost loved one, and it makes it harder for them to accept the reality of their loss,” Golden Gate Funeral and Cremation Services Owner and Funeral Director DiMond Piggie said.
41 Action News reached out to KCMO, which reinforced that gatherings of 10 people or more are not allowed.
However, the KCMO Health Department plans to roll out an appeals process in the coming days, which may help some families. It’s the change, Collins' family wants to see.
"We hope something can be done within the next few weeks so that we can properly send little Tommie home the right way,” Jackson said.