The first funeral I photographed during the coronavirus crisis was for a woman named Marie Therese Wassmer. She was nearly 90 years old and was buried in a cemetery outside the small city of Mulhouse, an early flashpoint of the outbreak in France. Although she hadn’t been tested for the virus, she was buried like a victim. Neither her friends nor family attended the funeral for a variety of reasons, including the countrywide lockdown. As a priest and four undertakers laid her to rest in a sealed coffin, the undertakers adopted an unusual role: They prayed over her coffin. It was as though they were her family.
As France struggles to stanch a coronavirus pandemic that has killed 20,796