Celebrating Sandra Gravunder

By Rene Armado

With social distancing the new law of the land during this pandemic, our traditions have become potential victims of COVID-19. One of the more unfortunate victims of this new regulation is funerals.

No matter the cause, when a loved one reaches their final moments, it’s only natural for us to want to be near our loved ones. But, unfortunately, social distancing rules apply for funeral services too. Funeral homes are required to limit attendance to services and now broadcast them live online via social media for those not allowed in to watch along.

Sarah Gravunder

The family of Sandra Lynn Gravunder attended a minimal service for her as well as they laid her to rest on Friday afternoon.

The funeral home set a limit of seven attendees for her service and burial. For the many who were not able to attend, Gravunder’s daughter Jackie Baugrud and her family arranged for a parade of Love celebration. Held at the West Lawn Memorial Park cemetery where Sandy now rests, dozens of cars full of Gravunder’s loved ones made their way through the cemetery.

As they passed by her grave, Gravunder’s husband Roger, their children, and grandchildren waited to

greet them. All through the caravan, cars came adorned with signs bearing scriptures, lyrics from Sandy’s favorite worship songs, and other thoughtful messages that brought some to tears.

Even Racine and Mount Pleasants Fire Departments made appearances to pay their respects to their former team member’s wife. Throughout, there may not have been any hugs and kisses, but there were plenty of smiles, laughs, and kind words shared.

Sandra’s family will miss her, despite this new abnormal.

Proper etiquette in our world may be to keep at a distance from others. But it’s encouraging to see that it takes more than a global pandemic to stop us from touching each other with the kind of heartwarming love and compassion that is currently needed by so many.

Now, I may not have known Sandra or Sandy as her loved ones called her, but during the time I spent with her daughter Jackie and their family, I could see her life was full of love, and many kind-hearted people.

On a personal note, I had my first – and hopefully only – experience with this on Thursday as I, too, attended the service of a lifelong friend’s father’s service. I watched on Facebook live while sitting in my car in the parking lot of the funeral home.

While I still feel weirded out to the idea and experience of a Facebook live funeral service, I rather enjoyed this new experience of a Parade of Love.

I trust Sandy did too. May you rest peacefully.


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