A grieving widower believes loved ones lost during the coronavirus pandemic are being given “pauper’s funerals” because of inconsiderate lockdown rules.
David Nicol’s wife Patricia died last month after contracting Covid-19 whilst battling cancer in Ninewells Hospital.
The 48-year-old claims his grief has been confounded by social distancing restrictions which meant his family was unable to say goodbye to her as they would have liked to.
David said: “When I went to get the funeral arranged, we didn’t really get a chance to pick anything out. It was a case of this is what you are getting and there was nothing that could be done about it.
“And when it came to the cemetery, the casket was taken from the hearse by parks department employees, none of whom wore any PPE, and placed on top of the grave and lowered immediately before the civil celebrant service.
“At the end of the service, my daughter and I were standing at the grave and someone from the parks department came over and said: ‘Do you mind leaving please because we need to get the grave filled.'”
“So before we even got in the car and drove away, the digger was there ready to fill the hole in. And up to this day, there has not been any grass or anything put on it, it’s just a big mound of earth.”
David questioned the logic of some of the social distancing rules in place, saying it was contradictory that people could travel to the cemetery by taxi but could not organise a funeral car.
He said: “We couldn’t get the limousine because they were worried about people getting infected but the daft thing is, you can get a taxi to the graveyard and not be two metres away from the driver.
“So the rule works in one way but not in another.”
According to Scottish Government guidance, it is the responsibility of a cremation or burial authority to implement policies regarding the required conduct of a funeral service in their crematorium or burial ground.
A Dundee City Council spokesman said: “If the family get in touch with the council we can discuss their concerns directly and look into them.”
David said the experience has left him devastated and he hopes that once the restrictions begin to ease, family and friends will be allowed to commemorate their loved ones in a way that honours their memory.
“It was like my wife was receiving a pauper’s funeral service, totally undignified, no respect or sensitivity was shown,” he said.
“It’s like nothing has gone to plan, the entire situation as been extremely traumatic for myself and the family.
“I hope no other family has to endure this terrible and undignified treatment when losing a loved one.”
Patricia was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2013. She had been in Ninewells since February after receiving the news her cancer had returned having been given the all clear last year.
But despite the recent diagnosis, David said she appeared to be doing well until she tested positive for coronavirus.
David, from Mid-Craigie, said: “It was about two weeks after her second round of chemo that something happened on the ward and everybody got tested, she came back positive.
“She was in the Covid ward for two weeks and we couldn’t get into see her. The last time I spoke to her was Friday May 1 and she said to me not to worry, she would be fighting this.
“But on the Monday, I was called by the hospital to say I should come in and see her because she was dying.”
David was able to be at his wife’s bedside before she died, but his 18-year-old daughter Caitlin was not.
He said: “The experience has impacted us really badly, my daughter wasn’t able to see my wife at the hospital before she passed.
“I think she is still sort of in the mindset that her mum is in the hospital and she cant’t get to see her.”