21 May 2015, Thursday – The Visit

We´re starting to be overwhelmed by the information overload which has increased massively, and have to make sure we take it all in. Every new message is like a knife in my heart as I know that the day is quickly approaching when the casket containing Jens´s remains will be returned – a day I´ve been both longing for and dreading. It won´t be long till we can finally hold his funeral. I´m afraid of it.
A few days ago we received a so-called funeral certificate from the prosecutor´s office in Düsseldorf. It reads, “Burial has been permitted. Cremation is considered to be safe.“ Our son´s name and birth date are underneath. It´s the first time I have ever seen a document like this so I go online to find an explanation. “In case of an unnatural cause of death a funeral certificate issued by the prosecutor is required for an urn interment.“ I have a feeling we will probably have to deal with many documents like this which we didn´t know existed.
At about the same time we receive identical information from different places (Germanwings, the government special envoy, the French and German prosecutors, the German consulate in Marseille, etc.), some of which expands on the details and that we piece together like a puzzle in order not to miss anything. This is well-intentioned but stressful for us.
The most important news is that the identification commission´s work identifying the 150 passengers on the Germanwings airbus has been validated so that the death certificates could be signed. In addition, the French prosecutor has invited us to an informational meeting in Paris.
I had actually expected to receive a more personal letter mentioning our son´s name and informing us that his death and the DNA of one of the passengers matched. Is that too much to ask?
Lufthansa offers to manage the transfer of the victims´ remains to their home countries and the related organisational matters for the family members. They will arrange everything according to our wishes. This also includes working with a French funeral home. We guess that transferring a casket is quite a complicated process requiring a lot of paperwork so we agree. We also don´t feel able to organise all these things on our own as we don´t have the mental or especially the physical strength.
My husband´s colleagues visit us for the first time since the crash. They carry a huge fruit basket past us and put it on the kitchen table. We can really use it. Maybe the vitamins will chase away the fatigue and lack of motivation?
We sit in the living room and they express their condolences and those of their employees. We say empty phrases.
Suddenly Jasmin says, “Before we came we were thinking about how we should act around you. That´s difficult because what happened is so awful. We have no words. We´re not sure, but now we´re here.“
I´m glad for her honesty.
“It´s best to act like you always do. You don´t have to treat us with kid gloves. Talk or just listen,“ I say, adding, “and if I suddenly burst into tears, that´s also normal in this situation.“
We start talking. We speak a lot about our son´s death, the imminent transfer of his remains, reports from Le Vernet, etc.
Eventually we talk about things which have nothing to do with the disaster. I notice that the visit does us good and is a total distraction. We´re even able to laugh.
In the evening we eat some fruit from the fruit basket.

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

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