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COVID-19 and the Changing Culture of Grief Around the World

By: Justin Cook

Death rituals have always been imbued with cultural values. What happens, though, when minority cultures, who are among the most impacted by COVID-19, have their death rituals upended or halted entirely? 

In Ghana, where “there is no such thing as a private burial…and funerals are huge, dramatic and regular ceremonies,” mourning norms are now disrupted (Ohene).  Public gatherings of grief are not allowed because of social distancing enforcement. Gone too are the typical three days of condolences for both Muslim and Christian believers which would bring large groups of friends and family together… Read More

Canada Implemented Social Distancing from the Dead to Save the Living

By: Robyn Lacy

All across Canada, the funeral industry, particularly cemeteries and how they function to the public during the time of this pandemic, is changing.  For fear of the living spreading COVID-19 when gathering to mourn the dead, families are not only delaying funerals but also cemeteries are closing in order to safeguard death care workers.

Due to what is being termed “Caul’s Cluster,” local officials and cemetery board of directors are making the tough decisions to drastically limit their open hours and shut down cemeteries to the public altogether or make room in already tight budgets for PPE for all employees. It is called “Caul’s Cluster” because Caul’s Funeral Home is the direct link to half of Newfoundland’s known COVID-19 cases.  In mid-March, in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, an individual, who had recently travelled and later tested positive for Covid-19, attended a funeral at Caul’s Funeral Home that then resulted in more than 60 individuals becoming infected!  Although the individual did not knowingly spread the virus, as the measures in place were not as rigorous as they are today, the instance has shaken the funeral industry in Canada… Read More 

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