Religions Adapting End of Life Traditions Due to Coronavirus

Religions Adapting End of Life Traditions Due to Coronavirus April 14, 2020

Image from YouTube screenshot of coronavirus burial site of child in The United Kingdom

COVID-19 has forced religions around the globe to change their burial rituals.  Due to social distancing guidelines, The United States has banned public gatherings for funerals.  Other countries and religious organizations have followed suit. WHO stated dead bodies are generally not infectious, although recommended the bodies are not touched post mortem.

Many countries have adapted their own set of rules.  Here are a few major religions, and and a few examples of how they have been impacted:

Christian

  • Before COVID-19 – Many would gather in churches and cemeteries for a funeral service
    • The wake would last from 3 to 7 days
  • During pandemic – some countries are limiting funerals to 10 people or less
    • For the Philippines for instance, have set requirements for quick cremations within 12 hours

Hindus 

  • Before COVID-19 – They would traditionally burn corpses on funeral pyres, with large public gatherings.
    • Many Hindus would have bodies cremated near the Ganges
  • During pandemic – Funerals limited to 20 or fewer people.
    • Travel restrictions have backed up bodies getting to this river, and ashes piling up at crematorium

Jews

  • Before COVID-19 – during a seven day mourning period, previously received condolences at the home.
  • During pandemic – some Israli hospitals have added the option to say goodbye behind glass barricades

Muslims 

  • Before COVID-19 –  People would gather to wash the corpses, with public gatherings to mourn
  • During pandemic – Since cremation is strictly forbidden in Islam, corpses are placed in sealed bags to be buried (the same day if possible).
    • Though, some areas have denied bodies to be buried there, for fear of spreading the disease. Large gatherings of grief currently not permitted

Many religions have also offered video funerals, where loved ones could be virtually present without fear of contracting the virus. As the pandemic progressions, there could be updates to these processes.

*This has been a guest post from an author who wishes to remain anonymous

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