(Balata) The hearse has stopped in front of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Balata and the funeral directors are busy removing the coffin: for a few days, the funeral director Germain, like everyone else in Martinique, has been seeing his activity with the increase in numbers of deaths related to COVID-19.
Posted on Aug 18, 2021 at 10:52 am
Cécile AZZARO Agence France-Presse
In front of the bereaved, the funeral directors, all in blue shirts, black pants and black suit vests, carry the coffin into the church, in which a man over 80 lies who died of COVID-19 a few days earlier.
Another coffin is waiting in another refrigerator truck parked next to the church: that of another victim of the virus. His funeral will take place in the same church in a few hours.
Germain’s funeral directors, based in Schoelcher, picked up the two bodies that morning from La Joyau funeral center and the crematorium in Fort-de-France, where moments of meditation are organized in limited capacity.
As in all COVID-19 cases, the two coffins were closed and sealed with silicone on the day they were placed in the beer, “to prevent the spread of odors and the virus,” explains Jean-Florent Verdan, a young one Man-old undertaker.
“We live the feeling of families. It’s pretty difficult when you say that you can’t see your deceased and that the coffin is closed, ”says his colleague Bruno Moderne, 46 years old.
Both observe “a peak of activity”. “In normal times,” one funeral a day, that represents a team that turns out very well, ”says Jean-Florent. “Since COVID-19 we can say there that we practically carry out three burials a day. Yesterday we had five, today two, tomorrow three and maybe four, ”he lists, even if not all of them are related to COVID-19.
“Since last month we have been doing what we used to do there, doubling it,” he assures us.
” Bad time “
“All funeral directors are in demand,” adds Bruno. With many deaths occurring in the hospital, there is a need to quickly release the 25 lockers that hold the dead in the mortuary of the Martinique CHU.
“It’s a difficult time, we don’t expect all of death,” added Germain’s funeral advisor, Jonathan Magloire, who leads the funeral ceremony. After mass it ends in the cemetery next to the church, where the deceased is accompanied by a long procession.
“Precautions are taken upstream. When the deceased in the family recovers (provided the deceased did not die in the hospital, editor’s note), we have overalls, a coat and overshoes, ”describes Bruno.
He regrets, however, that despite the health situation, some families continue to organize funeral services at home.
“Because of the effort required, the vigil at home is not at all adapted to the current circumstances” of the pandemic, he said. Contrary to the tradition that the deceased is usually presented with an open coffin, the coffin is of course securely locked there.
“But a vigil in Martinique is not like in the French metropolis, where there are three people. Everyone knows everyone here. When we have a vigil, we have the impression that it is an evening, ”says Bruno. And the risks of contamination multiply.
“Today we sometimes don’t report vigils and meditations to the press,” to avoid the influx of people, says Emmanuel Certain, another funeral director and a member of the industry’s trade association. .
For him, “the situation is serious”. Last week there was “only one person who died who wasn’t COVID-19” in his shop. And only one person this week ”.
“With the influx of the deceased, we don’t always have the space to allow families to come to their final meditation,” he says. Consequence: “We recommend that the funerals be carried out as soon as possible than usual, within 48 hours”.