Six years after her father’s death, Demaris Agius’ family paid the Siġġiewi cemetery a customary visit – only to find that her father’s remains were no longer there.
Demaris, a Maltese blogger and mother-of-two, spoke to Lovin Malta after living through the harrowing experience of almost losing a loved one’s remains.
“My dad died in 2014 – now we live in Raħal Ġdid, but his parents were from Siġġiewi so we decided to bury him there,” Demaris explained.
“At the two year mark following his death, we knew that his remains were due to be removed eventually, so we started looking into buying our own grave.”
Maltese people can choose to bury their loved ones in public graves. However this means that after a couple of years, their remains will be exhumed to make space for other deceased individuals.
“We even left our name with the relevant authorities so that we could be informed as soon as there was a grave available for purchase.”
Despite the family’s efforts to get its hands on a private grave, their requests were unfortunately left unanswered. Because of this, Demaris had been anxiously waiting to be told that her father was due to be exhumed.
“I had been preparing myself for six years to see what we can do once they take out his remains,” Demaris continued.
“It’s closure for me, knowing that he has been exhumed.”
On Sunday 30th August, Demaris’ mother and sister headed to the Siġġiewi cemetery to pay her father’s grave a visit. Upon arriving, the grave was opened up and no remains were in sight.
Luckily, one of the cemetery workers recognised the family, and told them that the remains had been exhumed, almost two weeks earlier.
Following this ordeal, Demaris was contacted by the Siġġiewi parish priest to sort out the ordeal.
“He told us that he lost our details because he had only been there for a year – he said he didn’t have a proper hand over,” Demaris said.
In a video posted on her blog, Demaris expressed disbelief at the fact that no means of contact whatsoever was established with the family in this day and age.
“I thank the parish priest for contacting me and explaining that he was not given a hand over – but to be completely honest this isn’t my problem,” Demaris said in her video.
“I posted on Facebook about this, and it looks like this is a pretty normal occurrence. We speak about human rights all the time, so how can something like this be considered the norm?”
Earlier this year, a similar incident took place at the Addolorata cemetery, when a man went to visit his grandfather’s grave only to find it opened up and empty.
Piles of human bones were also seen stuffed inside a rubbish bin at this same cemetery.
“We had visited the cemetery before my father was exhumed, and still no one informed us,” Demaris continued.
“This was meant to be part of my grieving process. This was meant to be my closure, and they stole it from me.”
After speaking to the parish priest, Demaris was put in contact with a cemetery cleaner who eventually retrieved her father’s remains from a communal receptacle.
“I honestly hope that protocols are implemented so that nobody has to ever go through this,” Demaris concluded.