On the evening of March 22, 2020, my wife’s grandmother passed away. Amidst the enhanced community lockdown and Coronavirus pandemic, the situation was not only hard, but it became quite an ordeal.
On March 22, 2020, my wife received a call from her uncle, and based on what I learned, her grandmother has suddenly become weak and unable to recognize people. They decided to send her to the hospital.
My mother-in-law lives in our neighbourhood, so we drove there, picked her up, and went to her son’s house, where my wife’s uncle and grandmother also lives.
When we arrived, they went in the house, while I stayed in the car. After a few minutes, we drove to the hospital in two cars, with my wife’s grandmother in the other car.
The first hospital they arrived in was not able to accommodate her. There was something about patients under monitoring for covid or something. Anyway, they decided to take her to the hospital where her doctor practices instead.
Upon arriving, I stayed inside the car. It was my wife, her mother and uncle who handled everything in the hospital. Her brother also drove back home. There is already a curfew in place and people should no longer be out and about at this time. We arrived in this hospital at around 8:00PM.
I waited in the car for two hours. At around 10:19PM, I received a message from my wife that her grandmother passed away.
It was a shock, and it seemed to be too fast. I wanted to go inside the hospital, too, but was afraid if I could go in or not. Not only was it passed visiting hours, there was a quarantine lockdown order in place. I could be turned away by the guard at the door.
At around 11:24PM, my wife asked me to drive her uncle to the nearby funeral parlor to arrange their services. After we drove there and went back to the hospital, I went with him inside.
My wife was in a corner of the room. She was on her phone, in a video conference with her siblings, two were in Italy, two in Metro Manila, and also her brother who was already at home. Her eyes were red. At that moment, the most I could do was give her a supportive hug.
I did not take long for the funeral parlor’s crew to arrive, and we then drove there to finish up some paper works. Here, I learned that they will be cremating her remains. The primary reason was that a wake would be impractical. There was a community quarantine in place, therefore, their relatives who are in other places, most specially those who are abroad would find it near impossible to attend.
After everything was done, we went home. There was a heavy atmosphere in the air as the feeling of loss started to sink in.
We woke up early the next day. I barely felt rested. We had to hurry to the hospital to pick up the death certificate. They told us it would be ready by 8:00AM. The cremation was also scheduled for 9:00AM.
We arrived at the hospital at 8:30AM. My wife’s mother went in, returned after almost an hour with no papers in hand. The attending physician has not arrived yet, plus there was a problem with their typewriter. After another hour, the papers were done, and we rushed to the funeral parlor. After which, we had to go to City Hall and get the certificate registered. It took around thirty or more minutes to get the paperwork sorted out and paid. There was no line and barely a few people around. Our next stop was at the crematorium.
When we arrived, the body was already loaded on the machine. There was no ceremony, almost no goodbyes said. My wife was again on a video conference with her siblings who could not physically attend the funeral. There were only six of us there. Me and my wife, her mother and uncle, and two of her elder brothers.
Upon receiving a signal to proceed, the technician closed the furnace doors and began the cremation. It was around 11am.
We waited mostly in silence. I took photos. Few words were exchanged during the time. The process took almost two hours.
After the ashes were sealed, we headed to the nearby church to get the remains blessed. They planned to have a more formal funeral done once the quarantine has been lifted and people would be allowed to gather once more. For now, the ashes were to be kept with my wife’s mother.
When we arrived at the church, there was a mass being held for a funeral. They planned to talk to the priest after the ceremony. We waited for at least twenty minutes. However, when the ceremony was done, it seemed that the priest quickly left before my wife’s brother could talk to him.
We transferred to another church. Again, a mass for a funeral was also being held. Regular masses has been suspended.
There, we were able to talk to a priest, get things sorted out and managed to get the blessing for my wife’s grandmother.
It was already around 3:00PM when we finished everything and headed home. It has been a very long day.
My wife’s grandmother died from cardio-pulmonary arrest, severe anemia and bleeding peptic ulcer. At first, people could not help but assume that the death was covid-related, most specially after hearing about the cremation.
Having a death during the community quarantine was not only difficult, but also made holding funeral services near impossible.
The quickness of the events also made the entire event seem unreal.
We are sort of alright, and things have kind of settled down.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you stay safe amidst this pandemic.
Have a nice day.