At A Good Goodbye, we are always on the lookout for news and information that can help you plan ahead for end-of-life issues. Here is a collection of recent news stories about the coronavirus pandemic, grief, body disposition, and advance medical directives.
CBC: Funeral restrictions impact mourning
(June 9, 2020) There is never an easy time to have a loved one die, but the COVID-19 pandemic is making those difficult times that much harder.
The pandemic has restricted public gatherings across Canada, and funerals are not exempt. On P.E.I. (Prince Edward Island), public gatherings are limited to 15 people inside and 20 outside.
“People are saying they feel like they’re going to have to grieve twice,” said Nancymarie Arsenault, executive director of Hospice P.E.I.
“Not that there is a timeline to any kind of grieving, but that immediate loss, and not being able to participate in what is hugely important.”
Funerals, wakes, and celebrations of life are a big part of community on the Island. Queues to get into a wake at a funeral home can extend around the block.
BBC: Coronavirus: How funerals under lockdown have “felt incomplete”
Meanwhile, across the Pond, the same feelings are being felt in the U.K. as you can read in this June 28, 2020 story from the BBC:
The coronavirus pandemic has put extra pressure on many workers, not least those involved in funerals, as they have struggled to cope with the strain the thousands of deaths have put on their industry.
About 21,000 people work in the sector and the National Association of Funeral Directors said its members have had to deal with 58,000 more deaths since March than they saw on average in the same period over the last five years.
David Barrington, who runs a funeral directors in Wirral, said he has found it “very hard” as the restrictions imposed by government and local councils have meant not a single mourner has “had the funeral they wanted”.
Government guidance states the number of mourners at services should be “as low as possible”; in Wirral, 15 people are allowed to attend, while in neighbouring Liverpool, the number is 10.
Mr Barrington said those restrictions have made it hard for families.
“If you can only invite 10 people, which 10 do you invite? If you’re a family of 14, how do you pick the 10?”
New York Times: Black Weddings (not what you think)
In Israel, a recent surge in coronavirus cases was tied to more than 2,000 weddings held between June 15 to June 25. In New York City in 1918, a very large wedding took place — not in spite of the Spanish flu epidemic ravaging the city but precisely because of it.
The strange gathering in a Queens cemetery was known as a shvartse khasene, or “black wedding,” a Jewish ritual from Eastern Europe. The wedding among the dead was designed to help stop the epidemic. Read about it here.
NPR: If You’re Grieving Right Now, Here Are 5 Shows That Get It
In this difficult time, television shows have emerged as a surprising resource, with important examples of how people process grief and handle journeys of loss. An increasing number of fictional dramas and comedy series center on characters struggling with grief in raw and emotional ways, which some experts say can actually help all of us learn how to process those feelings better.
This NPR story by Eric Deggans looks at five TV shows that capture the zeitgeist.
CNET.com: A Short History of Alkaline Hydrolysis
CNET ran this in-depth story about alkaline hydrolysis on June 1, 2020: The misunderstood funeral tech that’s illegal in 30 states. Alkaline hydrolysis is a form of cremation that uses water and chemicals to break down the human body to its bare minimum. Salts, amino acids, peptides. Like flame-based cremation, it produces ash that can be taken home. So why isn’t it available in every U.S. state? This story is part of CNET’s The Future of Funerals series.
The Guardian: Is there a better way to die?
(July 5, 2020) Coronavirus has taken the lives of thousands in the UK, but few had made their end-of-life wishes known to NHS staff. Will the pandemic change our attitudes to death? This article beautifully details the benefits of preparing your advance medical directives.
Stay safe, wash your hands and wear a mask in public!