A grieving family has released a heartbreaking photo of a widower separated from his children for the funeral of his wife in Victoria.
Mother-of-six Clare Ross died of suicide after disappearing from her home in Ferntree Gully in Melbourne’s southeast on Sunday, August 30. A day later her body was found in a quarry about 500m from their home. She was due to turn 79 on Wednesday.
Her son Danny Ross shared an image of her funeral, describing the experience as “cold and lonely”.
“Whoever decided that only 10 people can attend a funeral in approximately a 800sq m church needs there heads read,” he wrote on Facebook.
“Look at that picture and tell me it’s right. There’s my dad sitting on his own without support or a cuddle from his daughters or sons in his time of need.
“It’s disgusting and needs to be changed. How do we get this changed.
“The most stupid thing is More than 100 people can shop in a supermarket at any one time. I’m not looking for sympathy I’m asking for change.”
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The restrictions meant none of Mrs Ross’s 12 grandchildren or four great-grandchildren were able to attend the service.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks but that funeral service was inhumane,” Mr Ross told news.com.au.
While he had been expecting some social distancing restrictions, Mr Ross said he was shocked by the arrangements when they arrived at the church, where they were asked to sit 2m apart in spots marked with an “x”.
“It’s not the church’s fault they are just following the rules,” he said. “But I wasn’t even listening to the service I was just so angry inside at where the 10 of us were sitting.
“All I could think of was my dad, sitting on his own crying and no one could go over there and give him a hug.”
Mr Ross describes his mother as very social, she was the president of a card playing group and also a volunteer with a church group. Both his parents were pretty fit for their age, his dad is 82, and were out all the time.
“She had lots of friends but since this lockdown, everything changed,” he said.
While they coped with the first lockdown, Mr Ross said his mother was struggling with the second lockdown.
“She used to say that us kids were all right because we had Zoom and Facebook but us oldies didn’t have that and needed personal interaction with other people.
“They were locked in their houses 23 hours a day, what else can they do? I’m just disappointed at how it’s come to this.”
Her death has left her family reeling and blaming themselves for not visiting her because of the 5km lockdown limit.
“There is a lot of regret and plenty of other people must be going through the exactly the same thing, but no one is speaking out about it, I don’t know why, it seems so logical to speak out about it,” Mr Ross said.
“My mum had no history of mental illness, there was no way we thought mum would commit suicide in a million years, she was so against it, she was as Catholic as you come.”
Metropolitan Melbourne is still under stage 4 restrictions, although some rules were eased slightly today. Funerals are restricted to 10 people plus those required to conduct the service.
Mourners must wear a mask and maintain a physical distance of 1.5m from others to reduce to risk of spreading the coronavirus.
Mr Ross said he didn’t understand why places like churches couldn’t have similar rules to workplaces that see them operate with 70 per cent capacity.
“I don’t understand why it isn’t the same for funerals, in an 800sq m church, why couldn’t they have 40 people in there?” he said.
“It just doesn’t make sense how inhumane it is, there’s just no compassion.
“Daniel Andrews is talking about opening up things like dog grooming and hairdressing, why don’t they look at things that affect people mentally?
“Going to the funeral when your mum has just died of suicide, I don’t think there is anything more important than to come together, give each other a hug and say it’s going to be all right.”