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Director: Proper send-off for victims


RACHELLE AGARD

Director: Proper send-off for victims
Funeral director Brian Bentham. (Picture by Jameel Springer/File)

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A funeral director says they have been giving families of COVID-19 victims some level of closure.

Brian Bentham, who is also an embalmer, said that at the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 positive corpses were placed in sealed containers and the families were unable to say goodbye and have closure.

However, he added, as they learnt more about the virus, they were able to embalm the bodies and give the deceased a “proper” send-off.

“When you are at Harrison Point or wherever in isolation, your family would not be able to see you, but I think it is only fair that when you die the family be allowed to see you. I did my research, looked at all the dos and don’ts, and took recommendation from different funeral homes and embalmers. At the end of the day, the bodies can be embalmed, and you can have a viewing,” he said.

Bentham said he had already prepared a few bodies for burial, despite not being aware of any funeral director or embalmer having any formal training in the handling of bodies with COVID-19. He said the only difference to handling a COVID-19-positive corpse and a “normal” corpse was that a stronger solution was used.

“Reason being, they’re not quite sure if the virus lives and for how long it remains in the body, so you use a stronger solution. We do the usual, plug the orifices, the nose and throat so no air is able to come up. Then you can embalm the body as natural. We also use aspiration where we relieve the pressure on the body so there is no fluid coming up.

“Some embalmers say because of COVID, you don’t do it right away, but instead give two to three hours and let the body settle. But before you aspirate, you inject straight cavity into the body and allow it to aspirate. The cavity takes care of all that. When you’re finished you put in cavity again and that is your protection,” he said. (RA)