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Burials limited due to COVID-19

Photo of Montreal cemetery.

MONTREAL (CITYNEWS) – COVID-19 means even funerals and burials have to be adapted to accommodate not gathering rules.

“We are already grieving, we shouldn’t have to think about this right now. We shouldn’t have to agonize about who’s going to say their last goodbyes,” said

Luisa Perez.

Like at the Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges cemetery in Montreal’s Cote-Des-Neiges, a policy was recently changed so only two family members could attend burials.

“I just feel like two is very stringent compared to other cemeteries. We live in Laval, there (are) hardly any restrictions, as long as everyone keeps a safe distance,” said Perez.

Luisa Perez’s father Carlos passed away at 57, on April 27, after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.

Days later, his family made arrangements for his funeral and burial to be at the Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges cemetery, when burials allowed up to ten people.

But that changed just two days after his father’s funeral was set for May 19.

“I found out that the Cote-Des-Neige cemetery (was) only allowing two people and that was hard to hear because we were a family of five, so how do you choose who gets to go up to the cemetery with my mother.”

They’re not the only ones limiting to two. The Saint Francois D’Assise cemetery in Montreal’s East end is doing the same.

But up the road from Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges cemetery, the limit on family members at burials is ten and the same goes for the off-island Laval cemetery.

For Luisa’s family, moving their arrangements so she and her two siblings can attend the burial alongside their mother is not an option.

Luisa says her dad’s wish was to be next to his parents and brother, already buried at the cemetery in Cote-Des-Neiges. “We don’t want to put him anywhere else because that’s where his family is and that’s where we all go and visit on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or birthdays, we go there. So we just wanted to keep our family together.”

When Luisa reached out to the cemetery, asking if an exception can be made, she says she received a firm no.

Daniel Granger with the Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges cemetery tells CityNews in a statement, “with warmer weather coming, there will be an increase of families at the cemetery and it will be harder to respect the two-meter distancing. At ten people it was creating problems to achieve. The specific circumstances leave us no choice but to protect people and our employees.”

“I really do understand their concern, I guess what I’m looking for is a case-by-case basis. If they make the exception so that my mother can have all three of her children with her?”