Funeral home hands over to family, body of woman who died from COVID-19

A potential legal battle has ended amicably as the North Eastern Funeral Association (NEFA) has handed over to her family, the body of a woman who died from Covid-19.

Last week, contention grew sharply between NEFA and the Cadette family who contended that the funeral home was denying their right to closure by preventing them from viewing the body of their mother whose death was COVID-19 related.

As a result, the family had demanded that NEFA hand over the remains of the 78-year-old but the association denied that request.

Having exhausted other options, the family took the matter to court.

A daughter of the late Althea Marianna Cadette of La Plaine, better known as Dada and who resided in Morne Jaune, had previously informed Dominica News Online (DNO) on October 21, 2021 -the day of her mother’s funeral – that the family had sought and obtained from the court, an injunction preventing NEFA or the Ministry of Health from burying or disposing of her remains.

A date of October 25, 2021 was set when the High Court Judge would make a final determination in the matter.

The association, when contacted by DNO, had refused to comment on the situation but we were able to obtain a copy of a letter sent to the family’s lawyer Cara Shillingford-Marsh by NEFA’s attorney, Tiyani Behanzin, in response to a letter originally sent by Shillingford-Marsh to the association.

In his letter dated October 21, Behanzin contended that in refusing to allow the family to view the body, his client was simply acting on instructions from the Environmental Health Department of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and New Health Investment.

He said based on the instructions, the bodies of all Covid-19 infected patients must remain closed and no viewing is allowed at any stage, whether at the funeral home, the church or the graveside.

Behanzin further claimed that a family member had turned down an opportunity provided by NEFA to accommodate the family by unzipping the body bag in order to allow them to view the face of the deceased, an arrangement which he said the Chief Environmental Health Officer agreed to while the Department amended the procedure for the safe management of the dead.

The attorney ended his letter by informing the family’s lawyer that they would not receive any damages as his client is not liable for any of the “erroneous claims made without conducting any investigations or even a simple review,” and labelled the letter sent by attorney Shilingford-Marsh on behalf of the family as “an act of extortion in the circumstances.”

The family of the late Althea Marianna Cadette has since informed DNO that the body was handed over with little intervention from the court.

“The court’s decision was that we mediate because the lawyer for NEFA was not prepared [to deal with the matter] on the day of the hearing. The funeral home then decided to hand over the body of my mother,” a family member revealed. “She has since been moved to Lyndhurst funeral home where the body will be prepared for viewing by the family and burial on Thursday [October 28].”

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17 Comments

  1. Sakway ZehZeh
    October 31, 2021

    I don’t know when Dominicans will stop thinking that covid virus can just jump on them from anywhere. It reminds me of the unnecessary fears people had about HIV. Unless you are kissing a corpse (which is never advised) there should be no fear of spread. What is the issue with allowing people to grieve properly? First, you imprison patients when they are affected. Then you want to hide their bodies like they are lepers?? When will it end? Covid is not leprosy!! Covid is not always a death sentence. Many people have successfully managed the virus. Stop being ridiculous. By the way, don’t pretend that other families have not been allowed to bury their dead covid family. The only stipulation is no viewing.

  2. Watching
    October 29, 2021

    I was already beginning to wonder .if tbey did something worth quesrioning on tje lady why the didnt want Nefa.to allow them to see the body . Because others have jried their covid dead loved ones. But i see it was given over. I am glad. This is too painful..even if she dead already.

  3. October 28, 2021

    Only in Dominica. In Tortola they allow the immediate families to view the loved ones body at the funeral home. Dominica funeral home needs to do better than that. The family had a damn right to fight for their rights.

  4. Tobby
    October 28, 2021

    I can understand the deceased family pain, the only thing is that the virus does not die with the deceased and it can still spreed. However, I don’t understand how the NEFA preventing the family at such magnitude even to reach in court, just give them people their body simple, who paying the bill when you keeping it so tight like it yours eh. I would not pay NEFA trust me. Why you keeping them people body very out of order.

  5. Da Girl
    October 28, 2021

    I don’t undertsand. DOn’t they have these sealed coffins with glass over the face? So instead of open casket use those.

    • Sherm
      October 29, 2021

      Because the broken glass injures the grave diggers the practice was discontinued

  6. Gary
    October 28, 2021

    I’m glad that this was resolved and so the family can go on and bury their loved one. What’s sad is the lawyer representing NEFA Behanzin. He is insisting that his client was just following the orders of Environmental Health Department of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and New Health Investment, I wonder if he Behanzin ever asked the Environmental Health Department of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and New Health Investment where is the written Law or is there a written law used to force his client to comply. When I read, “The court’s decision was that we mediate because the lawyer for NEFA was not prepared [to deal with the matter] on the day of the hearing. ” Wow, why would Behanzin do such thing, and yes I’ sure he got paid.

  7. Ibo France
    October 28, 2021

    A simple and reasonable request from a grieving family became an unnecessary and a complicated mess. Only in Dominica!

    I’m elated that the sons and daughters have been given the right to view the body of their dearly, departed mother. Hope that this would bring them some solace and closure.

    My parting words on this unfortunate incident is simply this. When we have a corrupt, clueless, uncaring and apathetic people in the highest echelon of government, the country descends into anarchy, causes unnecessary tensions and has a demoralizing effect on the entire population.

    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      October 28, 2021

      lbo; even sometimes when something may seem cruel and wrong; it could be a good thing; in America and the rest of the world the protocol is simple this; they do not allowed funeral, burial, in order to avoid, large gathering which we know becomes a spreader of the virus.

      I knew someone who died from the virus, he was from Antigua; I was married to his cousin; from the time the corner picked up his body from his family home and took it to storage; not in a morgue; till he was cremated we never saw his body again.

      Grieving is one thing, but if the occasion is going, or may get others infected, people should learn to live with the circumstances.

      • Poli Sci
        October 28, 2021

        That is not the case in Florida or Georgia among other states. I have been to funerals recently and was able to view the body and attend the burial. There should be no exception in Dominica. The proper protocols should be put in place to mitigate the spread of the virus.

        • Zandoli
          October 28, 2021

          I would hardly use Florida and Georgia as models for covid infection control. I would follow the protocols in California any day over those two states.

          • Poli Sci
            October 29, 2021

            Life goes on. At some point we have to get over the fear of this virus and get on with our lives. The key is to take the damn vaccine and follow the protocols. Covid is not going anywhere and no amount of bush tea can stop it. If the vaccine causes death, well we will just meet our maker sooner.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
        • October 28, 2021

          @Poli Sci, if the protocol in Dominica was different, the Artorney for the family (Clara Shillingford) would not win the case, unless that Tyani Lawyer is really a failure.

        • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
          November 1, 2021

          Yes, but explain to your audience what you think is the cause of so much COVID-19, and the different variety of the Delta Variant in Florida.
          You should not even think of Georgia, Florida, Texas, or any of the Red States as an example you see; it is because of those States officials ignoring scientific information, and protocol why there are still so many infected people in America.

      • Blue Blue the sky is blue
        October 28, 2021

        Francisco, which dead body can give someone covid (flu)? I cannot understand why persons like yourself who claim to be learned dismiss all other facts as conspiracy? There are 2 sides to a co Francisco do you know covid existed before 2019? Anything that would speak against the vaccines trading on the Stock Exchange for Investors to make lots of money, most of you jump, say it is a conspiracy. Why should anyone mandate what persons should put into their bodies? This is the person’s choice. Just as Jehovah does not force us to accept him. There are so many research done and all of a sudden in the name of globalization, small countries are even targeted for those foolish conspiracies of vaccination as a “golden calf” type of thing. It is appointed unto man to die. Now I notice a “vaccine” has taken the place of the Creator. Are we serious? or under a spell? using elderlies to push vaccination agenda. All u afraid to die which is inevitable. False covid death reported worldwide.

        • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
          November 1, 2021

          “Francisco, which dead body can give someone covid (flu)? ”

          You see that in the quote: “covid (flue)?” They are your your words; highly irrelevant which gives me a reason not to respond; nevertheless, I will! In the first place is you are insinuating that COVID-19 is a flu virus, that is an indication you do not know what you are talking about; because COVID-19 is a disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 that triggers what is known to be respiratory tract infection.
          It affects the upper respiratory track: I can bracket this for a reason (sinuses, nose, and throat) or the lower respiratory tract; “windpipe and lungs. It spreads the same way other coronaviruses do, from person to person.

          Your embarrassing question is a one word answer: Yes, one can contract the virus from a dead person or animal.
          Stop educating yourself from what you read on Facebook, You Tube, and the university of Instagram, and the other rubbish you read on social media!

          Review mRNA diseases; and come again.

          • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
            November 1, 2021

            “Now I notice a “vaccine” has taken the place of the Creator. Are we serious? or under a spell? using elderlies to push vaccination agenda. All u afraid to die which is inevitable. False covid death reported worldwide.”

            The vaccine might be the only thing between you and your grave right now!
            You know I like to read and debate; nevertheless; it’s distasteful to read such foolishness: Don’t draw God into this pack of nonsensical garbage; because God ordained it that people should live for three scours and ten.
            A score is 20: So; 20 X 3 = 60 + 10 = 70 we should live, and God said by reason of strength we can live beyond seventy; life or death is in the power of the tongue; we can add life to our life by speaking. If again your insinuation is that God Jehovah is using COVID-19 to kill people, if you are a preacher, you do not know anything about God, hence I deem you a false prophet!

            Hahahahahahahahaha.

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