22 – 31 May 2015 – The Zinc Casket

The information we are hearing from different sources is focussing more and more on the transfer of remains, which, according to Germanwings, will take place as soon as possible. However, collecting the required documents takes time, as does putting the remains in the casket under international law. The deceased must be placed in a hermetically sealed zinc container and then into a wooden casket for transport. Everything will be done to prepare the transport in accordance with the wishes of the victim and the relatives.
The shattered remains of my child which have been found….in a soldered zinc casket….that´s all that´s left of him and that´s what´s coming back! What will the undertaker find in the casket? What percent of his body will come back to Germany? I try to block these unwelcome images but they lodge themselves in my head stubbornly.
I can´t resist the urge to inform myself: The metal casket prevents odours and body fluids from escaping. In addition, zinc possesses antibacterial properties which prevent too rapid decomposition in the absence of air. Of course knowing this does not ease my pain.
The more we learn the higher our anxiety level is. As macabre as it sounds, we´re looking forward to Jens´s return so we can arrange his funeral. Our agonising wait is finally coming to an end. I´m grateful to the French for identifying the dead so quickly. The missing papers are the lesser problem.
The funeral home informs us that they have received a call from a service provider engaged by Lufthansa to manage the transfer. The resolute employee confirms that the casket containing Jens´s remains will be brought to the Leipzig-Halle airport, where it will be met by the funeral home. The documents will accompany the casket.
It is our wish to meet Jens´s casket at the airport privately.
As the transfer is going to take place in the next two or three weeks we decide not to attend the French prosecutor´s informational meeting in Paris so we can prepare the funeral. There will be a report on the meeting.
Despite the flurry of events we try to get on with our lives. We often meet up with our family, our young granddaughter looking at me with surprise because her grandmother doesn´t laugh or play with her as much as usual.
We spend Whitsun outdoors but this doesn´t bring me inner peace. I´m not able to enjoy its soothing relaxation as I once could.
And then it arrives, the news of all news. The lawyer informs us: “…I have just received a message from Lufthansa that the transfer is now planned for either the 9th or 10th of June. Details to follow…“

© Brigitte Voß / Translation: Ellen Rosenbaum

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