News / Community / 16th September 2021
Emotional impact of COVID funeral rules
While most of our region will be celebrating the end of the recent lockdown period, it will be a bittersweet time for some Coonabarabran families that wished the re-opening had came earlier.
The Milsom and Todd families have endured a torrid 12-month period, having lost two loved ones in a 12 month period and during tight restrictions.
The restrictions limited the families ability to hold proper farewells and celebrate their loved ones lives.
With no positive COVID-19 cases reported in our region, they have been left questioning the need for drastic measures in the first place.
Beryl Milsom’s husband, Percy, passed away in 2020 and a year later she lost her 100-year-old mother, Heather Todd.
At the time of her husband’s death, restrictions were easing after NSW’s first lockdown period, but funeral services were still capped at 100.
Beryl’s daughter, Jo, spoke of the toll it took on the family to adhere to the restrictions set by the NSW Government.
Jo said they spent three days compiling a list of attendees and contacting each person individually to invite them to her father’s funeral service, a process she said was unnecessary and emotionally draining.
“It’s just an exercise you shouldn’t have to go through while you’re trying to grieve yourself,” Jo said.
“We have such a massive family - just with our immediate family and nieces and nephews there are 70 people.
“It was an awful and emotionally exhausting process to have to go through.”
To add insult to injury, Jo’s brothers and other family members were unable to return to Coonabarabran to mark the 12-month anniversary of Percy’s passing,duetothemost recent Stay At Home orders.
Then, in a cruel twist of fate, the health of Jo’s grandmother, Heather, drasticallydeclined,and just two days after the 12-month anniversary of Percy’s death, Heather passed away. She was just weeks shy of her 101st birthday.
“On the 12-month anniversary of dad’s passing, mum got the phone call that her mother wasn’t well,” Jo said.
“And this time around funeral services were capped to just 10 people!”
While Jo said it had been a devastating time for her family, she said the cap of just 10 people in many ways seemed an easier task to deal with.
“She (Heather) had 10 family members in Coonabarabran, so that made things a little easier,” Jo said.
“However, it’s still been a tough time, but it’s been exceptionally tougher on mum having lost her husband and mother in the space of 12 months.
“I cope because I just have too. I just have to keep going.
“Sometimes I’ll be fine and all of a sudden my emotions will get hold of me and I will just break down and cry.
“I often ask mum how she is and she says she’s okay, but I know it’s been really tough for her.”
While Beryl admitted the past 12 months had been particularly hard, she said it was her close- knit family that helped her through the tough times.
“We’re not the only ones that have gone through this,” Beryl said.
“We did the best we could, but it was heartbreaking not being able to send them off the way we wanted and the way they deserved.
“I keep going because of my family - what else can you do, you have to keep going for them.”