‘I can’t grieve’: LA family has to wait for months to bury loved ones as Kovid’s deaths escalate

Johanna Matamoros’s father and mother died a month apart in December and January. But with Los Angeles funeral homes Kovid-19 on the verge of devastation, he may have to wait two to three months to be buried.

“I am not able to grieve.” It is very painful, ”he told the Guardian.

Matamoros’s 56-year-old father, Kovid, died in December in El Salvador, Esmail, where he traveled to say goodbye to his dying mother. Her mother Jeanetteh was heartbroken when she lost her husband of 32 years and died of heart failure a month later. “They just sit there and cry. They just can’t separate from each other.”

Nevertheless it may be a few months before the couple can be buried together. Although Asmail had already reserved a location for him and his wife in a North Hollywood cemetery, the Mattamoros may not receive a date of service until April. She is still waiting for the funeral to be given a preliminary meeting and come from El Salvador for her father’s ashes.

The crumbling funeral industry is a particularly serious result of the coronovirus disaster in LA, one of the worst Kovid hotspots in America. On average there are one death every six minutes and more than 200 deaths a day, with every part of the system overwhelmed by bodies including funeral homes, morcharies, cemeteries, cemeteries, coroners’ offices, public health departments and hospital morgues.

Jeanette and Esmail Matamoros. Photo: courtesy of Johanna Mattamoros

Many afflicted families spend hours calling funeral homes, only to be told that mortars are full for the future. Those with the ability to find a morgue or those on a waiting list are asked to wait more than a month for service. And with the phone ringing off the hook, some families say they can’t even find out where their loved ones’ bodies are.

With the backlog of more than 2,700 bodies stored in hospitals and the coroner’s office, the crisis became so severe this week that local air quality regulators announced that the county would remove the limit on the number of cremations allowed in the area.

For many funeral directors, the decline in families is unprecedented. “We’ve been in business for 75 years and we’ve never had to close families,” said Nicole Montague, director of funerals at South Los Angeles Mortuary, located in one of the harshest neighborhoods in the region. .

“The family is calling me every day, saying that can you put me on a waiting list when you have space?” And there’s nothing we can do, it’s so terrible. “

In an indication of how aggravated the situation has become, Montague said he had recently received a call from a woman whose grandmother had died at home and no one was having trouble lifting the body. “These families want to stop the bus. it hurts.”

Hugo Sanchez Laurel, president of Optima Funeral Home in South La, said he was temporarily closing his doors to new families through his current affairs. During the end of the holiday season, he was converting about 25 families a day, he said. Now, he is advising troubled families to try to call Morchery outside LA. He does not know what else to do.

“We have always heard of mass casualty incidents, but there is nothing like that,” said Laurel. He said the latest increase was similar to the mass casualty incident every day, and the industry was not equipped to respond. Mainly as a Latin funeral home, they also have to send bodies out of the country, which has become even more difficult during the epidemic.

Asmel Matamoros embraces one of his grandchildren.

Asmel Matamoros embraces one of his grandchildren. Photo: courtesy of Johanna Mattamoros

The National Guard recently deployed LA to help with temporary storage of the corpses, but some funeral directors have urged the county to provide more assistance, noting that the Department of Public Health is keeping normal business hours , Which may delay the permit and create another bottleneck. Some people are struggling to get overwhelmed doctors to sign the death certificate, which also increases the backlog.

When the mortars are closed, the bodies are piled up in hospitals. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in South-La recently had to buy a refrigerated truck after reaching the on-site morgue, said Jonathan Vestall, vice president of ancillary services. When the truck, which had space for about 20 people, was filled, it doubled the shelves. Capacity. And when the shelves were not enough, he had to get a second truck.

It could soon get worse, with Biden warning his second day in office that more than 100,000 Americans could die in the next month, and the Trump administration had no vaccine delivery plan.

Waiting for suffering: ‘Pain over pain’

Elvira Marquez, a 50-year-old Angelino, whose father Manuel died on January 6, said the process of burying his father was a nightmare. Manuel requested burial at Rose Hills Memorial Park and Morgue with his wife, but Marquez found it impossible to reach anyone in the cemetery.

She said she waited over six hours, and when she was finally found, a representative said that Morchery would call back when she would have the ability to take Manuel’s body, and that she would be able to transport him until will not be able to. There were several bodies that needed transport from the hospital where he died.

She spent the next two weeks without updating, she said, and learned only after 10 days that Rose Hills had actually raised her father. But the cemetery listed the date of her death on the wrong website, raising her concern that Rose Hills might mix the corpses, especially since she had not laid eyes on her father, a 77-year-old welder.

Manuel López Marquez (left).

Manuel Lopez Marquez, left. Photo: courtesy of Elvira Marquez

In the end, he was told that he would be appointed on March 2 to make arrangements, but after this, there is no idea how long it would take for burial.

“Do they also have the right person?” We don’t know, “said Marquez, who last saw his father when he said his goodbyes to Zoom and is now raising money on GoFundMe to cover burial costs.” To find out if my One has to go through the mortuary to find out that the father is indescribable. This is real … The cemetery literally means so many families having to endure this pain again.

A spokesman for Rose Hills acknowledged that services had been delayed, but declined to comment on Marquez’s account, saying “all are served with the utmost care and compassion, which qualified during this unprecedented time Huh.”

41-year-old Juliana Jimenez Sesma was to find out how to bury both her parents after she died in South LA in December, 11 days apart. With funeral homes and postponement of paperwork over the holidays, it was three weeks before she could do a service for her mother, whom she set out in the church parking lot.

“It is a pain to just wait on top of the pain. As long as you know that their body is not laid to rest, you will not get a little more peace.

Juliana Jimenez Sesma's parents separated 11 days in December in South LA.

Juliana Jimenez Sesma’s parents separated 11 days in December in South LA. Photo: Courtesy of Juliana Jimenez Sesma

After Sesma died, she had the opportunity to see her mother’s body in the hospital, but had to wear a mask, gloves and gown. “I can’t even describe the feeling of seeing my mother’s body, but feeling restricted by hugs or her kisses. It’s just awful.” She was grateful to be in the same room with her mother, Even though they couldn’t hug: “She’s always going to be with me in my heart, so I wasn’t really saying goodbye to her.”

Most families do not get that opportunity. Boyd Funeral Home owner Candy Boyd said it was particularly painful for families who had not physically seen their loved ones for weeks or months before their deaths, as hospitals do not allow visits. For delay in stating that said Boyd, who recently performed the last rites for his mother of nine years. “They are trying to pick up the pieces and move on to the next chapter. This is just shocking. “

Johanna, who is waiting for her parents Asmail and Zeenat to be buried, recently tested positive for Kovid, meaning she could not even live with her mother in her final days. Johanna said that her parents were beloved in the community – devout Christians, her father known as a karaoke guru, her mother an expert on floral arrangements and many pastors have offered to serve. But because funeral homes are supported, the family hangs in the balance. She is also trying to raise money to bear the burial costs.

“I just want a place for my parents to go and mourn and bring flowers to them. That’s all I want, “he said. “How long do we have to wait?”


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