Long wait to mourn loved ones
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.