the ordeal of Natalia who fails to repatriate her body

Earlier this month, Nataliia flew to her hometown of Kremenchuk – halfway between the capital and Kharkiv – to establish …

Earlier this month, Nataliia had flown to her town of Kremenchuk – halfway between the capital and Kharkiv – to present the necessary documents for the renewal of her visa. In the luggage of his ten-year-old daughter (1) and Frédéric Fave, who for four years has been divided between Natalia’s Ukrainian apartment and his house in Arès in the Arcachon Basin. Just one more round trip, probably one of the last before the couple settled permanently in the Gironde after getting married the summer before. Alas, tested positive on New Year’s Eve, Frédéric – 59 years old – will torment for a month from hospital to hospital. “He would not be vaccinated,” she laments.

sealed coffin

As required by international law, his body must be sealed in a zinc box so the coffin can be repatriated by air. However, it was impossible to open it afterwards to continue with the cremation that Frederik had repeatedly demanded. “French law forbids it, so we had to decide to do it on the spot,” explains Hélène, her sister, who lives in a small pavilion in Pessac, where the young widow is now a refugee. By agreement with the rest of his family to the former sailor, the funeral is then organized by the Ukrainian undertakers in the suburbs of Kiev. “A ceremony that we could follow on WhatsApp, thanks to Natalia’s cousin, who filmed live,” comforts Hélène. “By lubricating the legs of the employees, she also made them open the coffin so I could see my brother one last time. »

“We were able to follow the funeral live on WhatsApp …”

And then to fight with the formalities and the insurance companies so that the funeral urn is brought back to France as soon as possible. “Everything was clarified, packed, and the plane ticket specially reserved for this type of transport reserved for 26 February. And then Putin landed. Two days rather, nail all the planes and Natalia’s last hope to Ukrainian soil. “Because of the war, I am doomed to see my husband locked inside a hangar, 3,000 km from me. »


Sofia, 10, on the morning of March 6 in the forecourt of the border station Przemyśl (Poland). Natalia’s daughter has since been educated at a school in Pessac in the suburbs of Bordeaux.

Photo NF

The young woman, who is a widow after a health war and orphaned by her country burned by the Russians, is now also undocumented. “The original of Frédéric’s death certificate is in the ballot box and the certified copy in the boxes of a French embassy in exile in Lviv. They are very sweet, repeat to me that they will send it to me, but when? Their hasty move does not help on the case, they are overwhelmed by other priorities. For now the notary and the authorities are satisfied here with the picture of this document, they understood my situation. “

Grief and emigration

In her accident, Nataliia Fave can at least count on her deceased husband’s family. Starting with Hélène, his big sister. “The poor will also have had to undergo an exodus,” blows this French teacher. After first seeking refuge from the bombs in her parents’ small village, Natalia, along with her daughter Sofia, resumed the long road of exile and grief on the morning of March 5th.

“The original of Frédéric’s death certificate is in the ballot box and the certified copy in the boxes of a French embassy in exile in Lviv”

“Five checkpoints to cross at 80 kilometers to reach Kiev. Then twenty hours by bus to the Polish border, which we had to cross on foot. Eventually, on the other hand, they get the chance to meet a crew of French volunteers. “They took us back to Charleville-Mézière’s station in their van. Direction Paris, and finally Bordeaux after four days and four endless nights. “Now I help her as much as I can,” Hélène promises. “First by trying to find odd jobs for her, housekeeping, while she might be waiting for Nataliia to resume her job as a beautician specializing in permanent make-up in France. »

For little Sofia, integrated into a class of CM2 in Pessac, the end of the world has already almost reached. “Since she knew my brother, she had learned to speak our language a little, it’s easier. Her peers have been notified and their welcome has been fantastic with drawings and clothes offered to make her feel at home among them. »

Leave a Comment