Long wait to mourn loved ones

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

OR­GAN­IS­ING and ar­rang­ing for a fam­ily mem­ber’s burial is an ag­o­nis­ing, emo­tion­ally drain­ing process. In the week lead­ing up to the burial, fam­ily mem­bers have to cater for peo­ple vis­it­ing to com­fort the fam­ily. In the spirit of (mu­tual re­spect), neighbours, church mem­bers, friends and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity are served tea and cake, or what­ever it is the be­reaved fam­ily can af­ford.

If that one week pe­riod is ex­tended to two weeks or more, due to no fault of the rel­a­tives con­cerned, who is to carry the costs? Granted, ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers, friends and neighbours usu­ally band to­gether to do­nate items to keep the fam­ily go­ing through the few days lead­ing up to the fu­neral. But if this ex­tends to two or three weeks, it leaves an air of un­cer­tainty and will be costly.

Then there are fam­ily mem­bers who have to put in some leave at work so they can travel for the fu­neral, or even trans­port their loved ones’ bod­ies to other parts of the coun­try for burial. But the foren­sic pathol­ogy of­fi­cers’ strike has left many in limbo, not know­ing when their fam­ily mem­bers’ bod­ies will be re­leased.

They can’t plan and their “fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­ity leave” days will be ex­hausted be­fore they even lay their loved ones to rest. Daily, they sit out­side var­i­ous pathol­ogy cen­tres just hop­ing that post­mortems will be per­formed on their loved ones’ bod­ies so they can take them home for burial.

But un­til the De­part­ment of Health steps up and sorts out this is­sue, griev­ing fam­i­lies will suf­fer, un­able to mourn their loved ones in dig­nity. The of­fi­cers in­sist they are not on strike and that they have merely stopped do­ing du­ties for which they are not paid, like per­form­ing au­top­sies.

If that is true, then their strike ac­tion is jus­ti­fied. In these tough eco­nomic times, it is un­fair to ex­pect peo­ple to work for free. We can only hope that the talks be­tween the union and the de­part­ment yield some pos­i­tive re­sults as soon as pos­si­ble for the sake of the be­reaved fam­i­lies.

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