Treat the dead with dig­nity

Post - - COMMENT -

WHAT­EVER our re­li­gious be­liefs and af­fil­i­a­tions, there’s a com­mon thread that binds all peo­ple of this world, and that is the in­evitabil­ity of death.

This is why peo­ple of most re­li­gions have ways in which to mourn the de­parted and hold ded­i­cated cer­e­monies to com­mem­o­rate their lives, lega­cies and mem­o­ries.

It is part of ac­knowl­edg­ing a deep sense of loss for a fam­ily mem­ber, a rel­a­tive, a friend, or a mem­ber of one’s broader com­mu­nity.

What has be­come a mat­ter of great con­cern within the lo­cal com­mu­nity re­cently has been ev­i­dence of an ap­par­ent lack of re­spect for the rights and feel­ings of peo­ple mourn­ing the death of loved ones.

Here are three cases in Dur­ban which il­lus­trate this dis­turb­ing trend:

# The dis­tress ex­pe­ri­enced by fam­i­lies who com­plain of the long de­lays in ar­rang­ing cre­ma­tions at the Mobeni Heights cre­ma­to­rium, where only one of the fa­cil­ity’s two fur­naces has been work­ing.

This prob­lem has per­sisted for the past six years, and de­spite nu­mer­ous com­plaints and rep­re­sen­ta­tions by fu­neral di­rec­tors and re­li­gious, civic and po­lit­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tions to the eThekwini au­thor­i­ties, noth­ing ap­pears to have changed.

# A ma­jor prob­lem also ex­ists with se­cu­rity at sev­eral lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal ceme­ter­ies where vis­i­tors have been ac­costed and robbed of their per­sonal pos­ses­sions, in­clud­ing jew­ellery.

Grave­stones have also been stolen at the Red­hill ceme­tery. As one vis­i­tor to the Stella­wood ceme­tery com­plained: “The worst part is that we could have been killed. We were com­pletely trapped and iso­lated.”

Here again, mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials of­fer noth­ing more than prom­ises to im­prove se­cu­rity and ac­cess con­trol at af­fected ceme­ter­ies.

# There ap­pears to be no end in sight to the dis­rup­tive work stop­pages at gov­ern­ment mor­tu­ar­ies which re­sult in long de­lays in funer­als.

Bod­ies piled up as gen­er­a­tors were sab­o­taged, fridges switched off and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tags from bod­ies mixed up, al­legedly by strik­ing work­ers.

The fail­ure by both the dis­grun­tled work­ers and the health au­thor­i­ties to find com­mon ground shows a to­tal lack of re­spect for the dead and leads to dis­tress and in­con­ve­nience for griev­ing fam­i­lies.

There’s a great deal of truth in the maxim that you can mea­sure how civilised a coun­try is by the way it treats its dead.

By show­ing re­spect for some­one who has died, we demon­strate re­spect for the en­tire com­mu­nity af­fected by this loss.

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