As the coronavirus tightened its grip on the country and with strict burial regulations in place, the Johannesburg based funeral parlor, Thom Kight & Company, like many have had to adapt to ensure it can continue helping families say their final goodbyes to their loved ones in an empathetic way. Neil Keight, owner of the nearly 40year old family-run business, says Covid-19 has forced them to adapt in the way they deal with those who have died, with extra precautions taken especially in keeping their staff safe. If COVID-19 is proven or even suspected, the personal protection must include
the use of body bags with their exterior disinfected, amongst other stringent measures.
The funeral parlor has received over 100 people, who, they say, have died from, or have suspected to have died from complications arising from the coronavirus. As Gauteng became the country’s Covid-19 epicenter, the funeral parlour prepared for the numbers to rise, recently they say that the they are seeing fewer cases.
Gary Van Biljon, who has worked as an undertaker at the funeral parlor for 21 years, and whose son, Allan, is also employed at the company, has dealt with over 15 Covid related calls in the past couple of weeks. He says he continues to aim to do his best for the families of those who have died from Covid-19. Dignity is very important to him, with his personal touch being to put a single rose on top of the cadavers. For Van Biljon, dealing with children is the hardest. “The biggest skill an undertaker can have is compassion. You can’t do it if you don’t have compassion. Dealing with Covid, a lot of protocol has changed. The sad part is, a lot have died without their loved ones.”