(RNS) — For Menaka Kannan, it was bad enough when she heard that a fellow member of New York City’s Baha’i community had contracted the novel coronavirus. But she was not emotionally prepared for the news that came roughly a week later: He had succumbed to the infection and died.

“The news of his passing, of course, is very shocking,” she said.

As the community grappled with the grief, a lingering question arose: How do you conduct a funeral in the midst of a global pandemic, when a healing hug is now seen as a potential death sentence?

It’s a conundrum facing spiritual leaders the world over as the death toll from the coronavirus mounts, leaving the faithful in the U.S., Italy and elsewhere struggling

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