Belgian funeral directors plead for ‘more humane’ measures
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Belgian funeral directors plead for ‘more humane’ measures

Credit: Belga

Funeral directors in Belgium have pleaded with the government to be more humane and clear in its communication around this pandemic, and not just focus on the virus.

The government has also been asked to be more understanding in the measures they impose on funeral services by the Royal Federation of Funeral Directors of Belgium (Funebra) in a press release.

“Virologists specialise in viruses, but not in people, that much is now clear,” it read, adding that the government should have the courage to implement more understandable and reasonable measures that will have the same effects on the virus, but will at least be endurable.

It states that the current measure, which restricts the maximum number of people attending a funeral to 15, is “inhumane”, adding that it robs loved ones of a chance to properly say goodbye.

“This also means families often have to make choices about who can attend, which can lead to arguments. In the meantime, ” Johan Dexters, President of the Funebra, told The Brussels Times.

He added that, when comparing this to over-crowded trams, buses and airport arrival halls, this measure is incomprehensible, and shows a “total lack of understanding and respect for our families in mourning”.

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“What is especially frustrating is the fact that we are not heard. We are always running behind the facts and then we have to put things right and alter our policies as the rules are changing constantly,” Dexters said.

The funeral directors’ group also referred to the slow rollout of quick tests, for which they have been eligible since November last year.

The statement emphasised that, after three months, nothing has been implemented yet, and that the funeral directors have to “provide evidence that they have been in contact with a potentially infected person”.

Dexters said they were afraid the same would happen for them with the vaccination of undertakers.

There is some unclarity with regards to the vaccination of funeral directors, as undertakers in Wallonia are due to receive their doses at the end of February or the beginning of March, along with the care sector, but the timing remains unclear for the other regions.

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times