Aontú Representative for East Derry Gemma Brolly appeals for an urgent review of the Funeral Directors Guidance in line with Scotland, England, Wales and Republic of Ireland, permitting families the option to view and say goodbye to their loved ones who have passed away with COVID.
“Restrictions as they are at present were fully understandable at the beginning of the pandemic, when there was little research or evidence to go on, but now 18 months later when England, Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland are permitted the option to view their loved ones and say goodbye, surely the North of Ireland can implement the same approach?
I have spoken with so many heartbroken families recently and heard the words: “We never got to say goodbye.” Continuity of these restrictions means families must relive this trauma again and again when their neighbours suffer the same heartbreak.
The most recent guidance from HSE in Republic of Ireland advises the Irish Association of Funeral Directors that “evidence has been accumulated and demonstrated that there have been no confirmed reports of transmission from a dead body to a living host, including among persons with the greater risk of exposure, namely autopsy personnel and embalmers.”
I have spoken to local funeral directors who have stressed they are in complete agreement with reduced numbers and remains not going home in order to limit the risk of infection, however, they are deeply concerned that they are still not permitted to console families with the option of viewing their deceased. There are also funeral directors belonging to the Irish Association of Funeral Directors in the North of Ireland who consider themselves permitted to offer this option, which leads to a most confusing and distressing predicament for both funeral directors and grieving families.
Aontú respectfully urges those in charge to please review the guidelines on viewing the deceased as a matter of urgency. We believe this will not only ease a little of the pain for families in the future but it will offer a slight measure of consolation to the families who “never got to say goodbye” that future grieving families can at least see their loved one to say goodbye.”