A funeral with only 8 people in attendance

A funeral with only 8 people in attendance

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

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THREE days after the first case of the new coronavirus was confirmed in Jamaica, Verna Reid's brother, Troy Stephenson, died after suffering an asthma attack.

He was 52 years old.

In keeping with the 20 people restriction on social gathering that was announced by the Government on March 16, Stephenson's relatives began planning his funeral. They decided on a March 29th date for a handful of relatives and friends to say their final farewell.

However, as deaths attributed to COVID-19 continue to rise globally and Jamaica tries to contain the spread of the infectious disease locally, more measures were announced to further curtail the virus.

Stakeholders involved in the planning and execution of funerals have, therefore, had to adopt, with some funerals no longer including the customary church service, lengthy funeral programmes, and people being eulogised.

On March 23, crowd restriction was further reduced to 10. This was when Reid contacted the organisers of her brother's funeral and changed the date of his burial to March 25.

Only eight people were in attendance at Dovecot Memorial Park last week Wednesday.

“We went directly to the graveside and the minister was very patient. He did it in a very peaceful and condensed manner,” Reid said, adding that the service started at 10:00 am and lasted approximately one hour.

“We wanted to comply, and it would [have been] selfish and inconsiderate of everyone else [as] even in light of all this, we have to be mindful that other people are involved… minister, drivers, funeral operators...” Reid said, adding that she would not want to put anyone in harm's way.

Pointing out that the majority of their relatives reside overseas, Reid, who lives in Toronto, Canada, said they couldn't attend due to COVID-19-imposed travel restrictions.

“Thank God for technology. They couldn't travel home so I took a lot of pictures. We are hoping that things will fall into place with the virus under control, and at that time [next year], we will plan a memorial similar to a family reunion,” Reid disclosed.

According to Reid, her family, friends and the operators of Jones Funeral Service and Supplies were very supportive.

“People just have to appreciate those that are left behind here, whether relatives or friends. Just be respectful of humanity. Even in my grief, I would not want to go outside of those boundaries and possibly endanger somebody else. Everybody at the graveside has relatives,” Reid said.

At the same time, she had high praises for the funeral home operators.

“Jones Funeral Home served us very well, with only one day notice to change things around, and they got to work,” she said.

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