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Durham University

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Grief in the time of Covid-19

(14 May 2020)

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought massive changes to our lives including how we say goodbye to our loved ones.

To help, our researchers have put together an online hub of resources to help people who have been bereaved or those working in the funeral or memorial professions.

Devised by our Centre for Death and Life Studies the hub provides links to advice on grief and bereavement and online memorial services.

The resource also provides links to official Government statistics relating to Covid-19 cases as well as essays and media interviews on the effects of the pandemic on grief and funeral rituals.

People who have been affected by loss due to Covid-19 can also take part in a worldwide research project looking to understand how the virus has impacted upon how they have paid their last respects.

Social distancing

Restrictions on gatherings and social distancing have made funerals dramatically different occasions with only a few relatives being able to attend.

Our researchers say this could lead to an intensified sense of what has been called disenfranchised grief, something that some experience when actively prevented from attending the funeral of a partner, friend or family.

Just now, however, it is not due to family politics or antagonism, but to UK Government policy with consequences for crematoria and cemetery authorities as well as churches.

Funeral ceremony

One very recent, pre-Covid19, trend in funerals involved the choice of ‘no-ceremony’ and ‘no fuss’ cremations. During this crisis period, by contrast, we have seen the same trend, but not by choice.

Researchers say it will be interesting to see how this continues and how the British will engage with more shared, large-scale, forms of remembering and remembrance as the year moves on.

Grief, memory and remembrance

Not being able to be with our loved ones at the end of their lives, or even at their funeral, may well intensify our feeling of loss and have potential consequences for our ongoing sense of grief, memory, and remembrance.

These issues are at the heart of the Centre for Death and Life Studies as it plans to research the effect that Covid-19 has had on death rituals once taken for granted.

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