Iran plane crash victim's family struggles with aftermath
'Financially, mentally everything is up in the air,' brother says
On top of the grief of having lost his brother when Flight PS752 crashed in Iran, Masoud Pourjam is struggling with the challenge of resolving his affairs.
Mansour Pourjam, a dual Iranian-Canadian citizen, is among the 57 Canadian citizens and 29 permanent residents bound for Canada who died when the Ukrainian International Airlines plane was shot down by the Iranian military outside of Tehran.
Masoud drives a taxi in Ottawa and says it has been difficult for him to return to work or do things as simple as going to the bank.
"I cannot work more than half-shift, even less, I have to go home. I try not to be alone by myself. It is embarrassing when a customer is in the car and I start crying," Masoud said.
He said Mansour, who he describes as ever-smiling and a consummate entertainer, was visiting Iran to cheer up relatives.
He said he tries to project strength in front of his children, but when images of the plane coming down come to his mind and he can't help breaking down.
Financial, logistical struggle
Video of Mansour's 13-year-old son Ryan speaking at his memorial at Carleton University has been shared across Canada and around the world. Mansour was an alumnus of the school's biology program.
Masoud said the Pourjam family is having difficulty accessing Mansour's bank accounts because no death certificate has been issued. He worries about mortgage payments and utility bills.
"Financially, mentally everything is up in the air at this point for me," Masoud said.
"At least if I can solve these two, three problems — my nephew and my brother's financial status — I'll have done something for Ryan, for his future, for what his father did all his life to save for his kid."
Mansour was also acting as guardian for their 18-year-old nephew who is studying in Ottawa on a student visa. Masoud said relatives have been giving his nephew a place to stay, but they now have to make new arrangements to secure his status in Canada.
The family is also asking the federal government for help bringing Mansour's remains to Canada for burial.
"Ryan made his decision," Masoud said. "He wants to have the chance to pay a visit to his father's grave."
Masoud said the boy has been acting strong, but he wishes he could read his mind to figure out what he was thinking and how he's processing the loss.
On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government would provide $25,000 for the families of victims to address their immediate needs, such as arranging funerals and flights. Earlier this week, the government announced it also would waive fees and speed up visa processing times for those affected by the tragedy.
Masoud said he's not sure exactly how far the money will go in their situation, but he welcomed the announcement.
"For a few weeks, I can breathe a sigh of relief," he said.
Masoud said he is still living with a "fear factor" that some new complication will come around the corner.
He compared the loss of his brother to the loss of a limb, with the grief sapping his energy.
"Still I can't understand the depth of it. Gradually, time goes by and I see different dimensions from him that I lost. The whole family lost."
With files from Ashley Burke