EXCLUSIVE: Devastated family of grandmother who killed herself in lockdown reveal her tragic story and share a heartbreaking funeral photo – as they slam Dan Andrews over COVID-19 rules
- Melbourne family shares heartbreaking photo of funeral during lockdown
- David Ross sit apart from loved one as he farewelled wife of 60 years Clare
- Family now begging Daniel Andrews to change 10-person limit on funerals
- Urge other families to keep vigilant eye on elderly loved ones during lockdown
- Are you affected by funeral restrictions? Email [email protected]
A grief-stricken family has shared a heartbreaking photo showing an elderly widower sitting alone and away from loved ones at his wife’s funeral during lockdown in Melbourne.
Clare Ross disappeared from her home in Ferntree Gully in the city’s south-east on August 30 before her body was found in a nearby quarry 24 hours later, three days before what would have been her 79th birthday.
Her devastated family have opened up to Daily Mail Australia about their heartbreak to raise awareness about suicide – and called for Victoria’s strict rules on funerals to be overhauled in line with the rest of Australia.
Only 10 mourners could attend Ms Ross’ funeral on Friday under Melbourne’s Stage Four lockdown.
It meant none of her 12 grandchildren or four great-grandchildren could say goodbye.
David Ross (pictured) was forced to sit on his own and socially distance from loved ones as he mourned the loss of his wife of 60 years Clare at her funeral in Melbourne on Friday
Her son Danny later uploaded the gut-wrenching photo of his father David, 82, sitting on his own on a church pew, unable to be comforted by loved ones as he mourned the loss of his wife of 60 years.
‘I felt today’s service being inside the church seemed cold and lonely,’ Mr Ross captioned the photo on Facebook, which has since gone viral online.
‘Whoever decided that only 10 people can attend a funeral in a 800 square metre church needs their heads read. Look at that picture and tell me it’s right.’
‘The most stupid thing is more than 100 people can shop in a supermarket at any one time.’
Ms Ross’ tragic death has left the family reeling. They said they had no idea of her dark thoughts.
‘It wasn’t in her DNA, she was very old school and kept her feelings to herself but always warned us six kids against suicide, which was against her religion,’ her son Danny told Daily Mail Australia.
‘She was last person on earth I would think would take their own life. If I had any idea, we would have kept closer tabs on her. Everyone is devastated.’
Clare Ross took her own life, days before she was due to celebrate her 79th birthday
‘She had a few niggling illnesses here and there and self-diagnosed herself with dementia.
‘But as soon as COVID hit, that’s when she started to go downhill. She was paranoid about it and tested negative four times.’
Ms Ross and her husband were hit hard when lockdown confined them to their house earlier this year.
‘My mum was a social butterfly before lockdown, always out with her church, her card group or volunteering,’ Mr Ross said.
‘She and Dad were out every day of the week and were never home. So lockdown has been a battle for them. At one stage, Mum described lockdown as being in prison.’
Danny Ross said his parents David and Clare (pictured together) have battled with being confined to their home during lockdown
Mr Ross’ heartbreaking photo of his father at the funeral has gone viral with more than a thousand shares and comments.
In attendance with him were their six children and three of his late wife’s siblings.
‘Seriously, it was horrible,’ her son told Daily Mail Australia.
‘For us to not be able to go over and give him a hug while he’s crying over the loss of Mum was devastating.
‘I didn’t want to make it political, but I have not had one negative comment on the post, which tells you something.
‘But I don’t want sympathy. I want the rules changed.’
Mr Ross has pleaded the Victorian government to increase the number of attendees allowed at funerals.
It comes after Premier Andrews announced on Saturday plans to ease restrictions on pet groomers, who can reopen on September 28.
Mr Ross described the current funeral limit of 10 in Victoria as ‘inhumane’.
Clare Ross (pictured with her husband) showed no signs that she wanted to take her own life
Clare leaves behind 12 grandchildren, including James, who’s pictured with both of his nannas Audrey (left) and Clare (right)
The limit has increased to 100 in New South Wales, the ACT and Queensland in recent months.
South Australia allows 150 at funerals while up to 250 Tasmanians can attend an indoor funeral, which increases to 500 for outdoors.
The only limit on funerals in Western Australia is the two-square metre per person rule.
‘It needs to change but sadly, I don’t think it’s going to as the Victorian government is hell bent on showing no compassion,’ Mr Ross said.
‘What they’ve done is wrong. We want this fixed so no other family goes through what we have.
‘What if my parents had 10 kids? Who misses out, my dad?
‘They need to change funerals before they look at other services such as pet groomers and hairdressers.
‘People aren’t stupid, they’re going to be respectful, especially at a funeral.’
Clare’s tragic death has rocked her close-knit family, which includes six children, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren
Mr Ross also wants to open up the discussion about suicide.
Victoria’s lockdown has not yet seen a spike in suicides compared to last year, according to new data.
Since the start of this year, 466 people have taken their own lives in Victoria, compared to 468 suicides in the same time frame last year, according to figures recently released by the state coroner.
Clare Ross (far right) was a social butterfly before lockdown hit earlier this year. She’s pictured with with grandsons Robbie and James, granddaughter Charlotte and son Danny (centre)
Mr Ross has questioned the figures.
‘After Mum’s body was found, the police said to us they’ve seen more suicides in the last six months than they had in the six years prior,’ Mr Ross said.
‘There are lots of what ifs and whys, because we’ll never get the answers we are looking for. Suicide is a taboo subject and that needs to change.’
As Stage Four lockdown continues for at least another two weeks, Mr Ross urged Melburnians to keep a vigilant on their elderly loved ones, regardless of the distance.
‘If your elderly parents are still alive and you’re not with them make sure you check in on them even if the rules don’t allow it just do it. No amount of fines or laws should deter you from doing it,’ he urged.
For confidential support in Australia call LIFELINE: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au.
David (third left) and Clare (second right) Ross went from being never being at home to be holed up there 24-7
MELBOURNE’S ROADMAP OUT OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN – WHAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DO AND WHEN:
Step one: The first step came into effect at 11.59pm on September 13.
Step two: The second step will be implemented when Melbourne has 30-50 COVID-19 cases a day on average over the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on September 28.
Step three: The move to step three will occur when there is a daily statewide average of five new cases over the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on October 26.
Step four: The move to step four will come when there have been no new COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days. The aim is for this to come into place on November 23.
COVID Normal: After 28 days of no new COVID-19 cases, things will return to normal.
Step one – 11.59pm on September 13:
– Curfew has been eased to 9pm-5am
– People can still only leave home for the four reasons (shopping, exercise, work and care or medical attention)
– Public gatherings increased to two people, or a household, for a maximum of two hours
– Singles can have one nominated person to their home as part of the ‘singles social bubble’
– Childcare and early educators to remain closed
– Schools will continue to learn remotely unless they have exemptions
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, unless they have exemption
– Only go to work if you are in a permitted industry
– Cafes and restaurants will continue with take away only
– Retail businesses will remain open for essential shopping, with others only operating with click and collect
– Only one person per household can do the essential shopping
Step two – September 28:
– Public gatherings increase again to five people from a maximum of two households
– Childcare and early educators can re-open
– Schools to continue with remote learning, but Prep to Grade Two and Year 11 and Year 12 students will gradually return to class in Term 4
– There will be an increase to permitted workplaces
Step three – October 26:
– Curfew is no longer in place
– There are no restrictions on leaving home
– Public gatherings increase to 10 people together outdoors
– A ‘household bubble’ will be introduced, so five people from one house can visit another
– Remote learning to continue, but Grades 3 to Year 11 can gradually return to class
– Adult education to continue to be done remotely, but hands on classes will see a phased return to onsite
– Work from home is encouraged
– Up to 10 people can eat together at restaurants and cafes, with the majority of tables outdoor
– Retail shops to reopen, with hairdresses operating under safety measures but beauty stores to remain closed
– Real estate agents can conduct private inspections by appointment
– The one person per household limit on shopping is to be revoked
Step four – November 23:
– Public gatherings to increase to 50 people outdoors
– Up to 20 visitors can attend a home at any one time
– All adult education will return to onsite with safety measures in place
– Groups limited to 20 indoors and a maximum of 50 patrons per venue
– All retail stores to reopen, while real estate agents can operate with safety measures and by keeping a record of attendants
Step five – COVID normal:
– Public gatherings have no restriction
– There will also be no restriction on visitors to homes
– Phased return to onsite work for work from home workers
– Schools to reopen as normal
– Restrictions on hospitality removed, but venues to continue keeping records