Editorial: Keeping In Touch With The Community

One of the saddest aspects of Covid-19 is the fact that people who contract the virus have to be in quarantine, away from their relatives and friends. There is a logical explanation for this – the virus is highly contagious and staying in isolation is the best way to avoid spreading it to other people.

Still, it is very hard for people to have to stay away from their closest relatives at a time when they are in need. Generally speaking, we are a closely-knit community where families keep in touch on a regular basis, even in person, and so this necessity was probably the toughest restriction to follow.

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Words of comfort and solace have to be said via technological means, if this is possible. Grandmas and grandpas have had to quickly learn a better use of mobile phones and computers, just to be able to see their grandchildren. More than seven months into the pandemic, it is still being advocated that so-called vulnerable people should take all precautions. The authorities may not be as insistent as they were in March and April, but their advice still stands.

What was more depressing is that, until last Monday, people who died of the virus had to be buried quickly, without a funeral in the way we know it. A limited number of people, just 10, were allowed to attend a small ceremony at the cemetery.

We heard many heart-breaking stories of relatives of Covid victims who were forced to bury their loved ones within hours of their demise. A death always brings with it sorrow and grief; added to this, Covid-19 meant that there needed to be a “quick goodbye”. Families hardly had the time to absorb their loss; they had to follow strict instructions to get the burial service over as fast as possible.

They had the kind of feeling, which later resulted in a strong guilt, that they needed to “get rid of the body”. They felt that there was no human dignity in rushing through with the procedure to bury the victim. The fact that only a small number of people were allowed to attend a service – not in church, but at the cemetery – also deprived most of the relatives and friends the chance to pay their respects, which caused even greater distress to both the attendees and the absentees.

As from last Monday, the restrictions have been eased. Families are given 24 hours to prepare a funeral, and masses ‘praesente cadavere’ are now also allowed. This is based on new guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation. People who attend the funeral mass are obliged to follow the guidelines that have already been established for other masses, including the wearing of masks or visors.

Although 24 hours could still impose difficulties, especially if the death occurs in the evening or during the night, it is still a better option than the instructions that needed to be followed until last Monday.

Many families will now be able to organise a proper funeral. The sad goodbyes will, at least, be more humane.

 

 

Source : https://www.independent.com.mt/articles/2020-10-15/newspaper-leader/TMID-Editorial-Funerals-A-more-humane-good-bye-6736227842

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