Aries P Western attitudes toward death: from the Middle Ages to the present.New York: Marion Boyars; 1974

Local preferences and place of death within regions in England 2010. https// (accessed 14 May 2024)

The changing nature of dying: lessons from the pandemic

02 June 2024
Volume 29 · Issue 6

Historically, death was a family affair, taking place at home surrounded by family and friends. This included children and extended family. Today, death and dying as processes we all go through remain largely the same, but the world around them has changed. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic transformed death. The volume of deaths witnessed simultaneously was unnusual, as was relatives and friends being prevented from attending the dying because of social distancing restrictions.

COVID-19 forced the dismantling of family support of the dying person, and with that, disrupted the emotional closeness often necessary for strengthening or developing affectionate bonds. Dying surrounded by family and friends provided an opportunity for all to say goodbye, and at times for the dying to issue a few instructions to be carried out when they had departed. Arguably, this could still have happened virtually, but being physically close to someone cannot be recreated.

The pandemic has pushed death rituals to resemble what happened with industrialisation where death was, in most families, removed from the home set up to institutions where strangers cared for the dying person. The pandemic did not only remove death from the family home, but it stopped families visiting the dying loved ones while in hospices and hospitals. The writings of Aries (1974) suggested that Western attitudes toward death became well-defined during this period with a common one being the denial of death.

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