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Transformation of death

02 October 2021
Volume 26 · Issue 10

Historically, death was a family affair, which took place at home with the dying person surrounded by close family and special friends. Death and dying as processes we all go through remain largely the same, but the world around it has recently changed. For example, the past 18 months have seen COVID-19 transform death in terms of the vast numbers dying each day, with social distancing preventing relatives and families from being part of the dying experience.

COVID-19 has forced the dismantling of family support of the dying person, and, with that, it has threatened the emotional closeness that is necessary for strengthening or developing affectionate bonds. Dying while surrounded by family and friends offered an opportunity to say goodbye, and, at times, issue a few instructions to be carried out posthumously. Arguably, this could still happen virtually, but it is never the same as being physically close to someone. COVID-19, has imposed a new era of dying, which prevents death rituals by families and friends, and this can be argued to negatively impact the bereaved and how they interact with their grief.

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