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Death during times of Covid-19

Susie is a member of a well-known family in the Nottinghill Carnival community. Her sister passed on unexpectedly last year, not long after the family had lost another sister and now the matriarch of the family has also passed on. Her mother’s death happened during the times of Covid-19 restrictions and that meant the family were not able to have a traditional funeral and mourning rituals.

It’s tough, but I am doing what I have to do, it’s tough and we haven’t even had the anniversary of my sister’s passing yet and now mum. We have had 3 – one after the other. Mum’s was a different ball game but her passing went ok all things considered and because she didn’t have Covid it was a lot easier. I’ve heard some horror stories.

The experience for the family was not as bad as it could have been and that’s because mum’s death was not directly related to Covid but due to other health complications. Having said that, Covid had a serious impact on the way that the family mourned.

Mum had been hospitalised for two weeks, and when they told mum that they did all that they could do for her, she asked to be sent home and she lasted a weekend. She wanted to be home, so we were able to spend time with her and talk to her. I heard people say that they saw their loved ones go into an ambulance to the hospital and that’s the last time they saw them, which is really heart wrenching, so I gave thanks we didn’t have to deal with that”.

The family used our local funeral agency not the one in mum’s area and the staff at the agency remembered them because of the two previous death, and offered invaluable support. The impact of Covid means that many of the grave spots are already taken “we were very very fortunate to get a spot behind one sister and next to my other sister. Everywhere else was taken up but there was just one spot available, it’s so strange because we walked around looking for a spot and found that one right there and now they are all together”.

We didn’t do a nine nights, everyone did a candle vigil in their home on the nine night, and the hearse left from outside the house. The neighbours came out and other local people came out and we had some prayers said outside the house, we had some pan music.

The funeral service and the eulogy were at the grave side and it was on zoom so the family who couldn’t attend in person. “It was a hot day, so people went under the trees – everyone was well scattered. It was completely different experience and it worked. It was added stress and pressure, but I had no control about the situation so I couldn’t get too worked up about it. It was ok. It was a different set of people who came to the house, Other family members came to the cemetery but stayed in their car because they were shielding and waved and said their farewells. which meant that there were about 40 people but all scattered. There was no gate keeper at the cemetery, I heard that some people turn up to other cemeteries and get told it’s too many people and get turned away. There were about 40 people but all scattered, it was alright, it went ok”.

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