Treat the dead with dignity
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.