Bereaved Cork woman believes grieving families should be treated better

Bereaved Cork woman believes grieving families should be treated better
Pat Walker with her dad Arthur during happier times

A BEREAVED Cork woman has criticised the treatment of grieving families during the pandemic describing it as both horrendous and unnecessary.

Pat Walker from Grange, who lost her father Arthur last April in the height of the covid-19 pandemic, said that the restrictions around his funeral were very traumatic. 

The television personality, who regularly features on RTÉ as a stylist and model, said she felt that "mistakes had been made" in relation to the restrictions placed on already heartbroken families.

Ms Walker spoke of her hope, following the lifting of certain restrictions at funerals, that no other family will have to suffer the horrors they faced.

The number of people allowed to attend funerals has been increased from 10 to 25 as of last Monday. 

However, Ms Mulcahy recalled how even those cocooning together were told to sit three pews apart at her father's funeral mass last April.

She said it didn't feel like they were rows, but rather planets apart - a memory that will likely stay with the mum-of-one for years to come.

"Even though we were living in the same house we were three pews apart," she explained. 

"My daughter Heather was in the pew across from me and Andrew was three rows behind me. 

"Those 20 minutes were so lonely it felt like I was on another planet.

"I lost it a little bit to begin with but was able to pull myself together."

The burial was equally as painful for Ms Walker who described it as surreal.

"When we got to the cemetery there was yellow tape over the open grave like you would see at a crime scene. 

"We had to get permission to put down a flower."

She described how not having a traditional send-off has robbed families of closure.

"We got a mass of sorts but there were no pictures or cloth over the coffin for fear of contamination. 

"There were no gifts. 

"Grieving is always going to be difficult. 

"However, the fact that we weren't able to give dad the send-off he deserved made it feel like this wasn't real and dad hadn't died at all. 

"I'm still finding it hard to get my head around his death. 

"We were told if we are going to have a mass with all the people who would have been there it won't happen til next year and that's all we can hope for."

Pat described how she almost was denied the chance to see her dad before he died in Cork University Hospital.

"I was told that my dad had taken a turn and the next 24 hours would be critical. 

"He hadn't seen anybody for three weeks before that. 

"I explained that I needed to see him but was told that I couldn't, under any circumstances, go near the hospital."

Nonetheless, Ms Walker persisted and added:

"I needed him to know that somebody had been there. 

"When they said I couldn't visit I told the hospital to get him ready because I would be taking him home. 

"They agreed to let me see him after that but stressed that it would only be for two minutes."

She recalled seeing her father for the last time.

"When I saw my dad he was heavily sedated. I knew he could hear me because he put his hands out to hug me. 

"By the time they were able to see him he didn't know if anyone was there."

Pat said she knew the pain of not being able to say goodbye after losing her mum unexpectedly at just 15.

"I wasn't going to let that happen a second time."

Notwithstanding, Ms Walker emphasised that her father should have been allowed say goodbye when he was still well enough to do so.

"I wanted to sit with him while we could still have a conversation. 

"I can see why things would have to be different but we were covered from head to toe in protective equipment. 

"There was no risk of transmission. As far as I'm concerned some of the restrictions went a step too far."

She described her father as an amazing man.

"Dad was only 41 when he lost my mum and was left to raise seven children. 

"He gave us the best childhood possible. In 1969 he bought a Morris Minor and we were brought all over Ireland. 

"It was a really lovely time. He had the same way with the grand-children. If one of them was crying he would ask to take them and within a few minutes they were silent and calm."

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