From receiving the deceased from hospitals after post mortem examination, arranging for rituals to obtaining death certificates, all procedures are affected due to the lockdown.
As the cremation/ burial is allowed only with very a few members of the family, the deceased has to be electrically incinerated soon after the person is declared dead. However, a large number of people have chosen to donate bodies of their loved ones to the government hospitals for medical research.“My 85-yearold grandfather had passed away due to heart attack at a government hospital recently. As the hospital had COVID-19 patients admitted there, only two people were allowed to see him. We knew that there can be no gatherings and death certificate will be issued. However, it was very difficult to perform the last rites and the materials required for the same were hard to find. As per the suggestions of one of the staff members in the hospital, we decided to donate the body to the hospital,” said J Raji, a resident of Red Hills.
In case of death of patients in the hospitals, the process of obtaining a death certificate is simplified. But, on the other hand, there are few cases when the relatives of the deceased person have to struggle to find a doctor to certify the death. One such issue that came to Mohan Foundation, an organisation that works for organ donations in the State, was of an elderly man who was found dead in his home by his maid. It was difficult to certify the death as none of the doctors wanted to visit anyone during the outbreak. “The deceased man wanted to donate his body and his son was not here. We tried reaching out to many doctors to certify him dead but it wasn’t an easy task. After a lot of efforts, we got one of our acquaintances to issue a death certificate. I think there will be many other people who might face such issues during the lockdown,” said Sunil Shroff, founder of Mohan Foundation.
Besides, the non-availability of the freezer boxes for keeping the dead bodies, are also forcing many to cremate immediately.
“During the lockdown, only coffins and vans to carry the deceased were available and not ice boxes. Thus, people cannot keep the deceased for a long time, opt for immediate cremation. These are mostly elderly people who die due to illnesses that are reported these days,” says R Praveen, a personnel from Kilpauk Cemetery.