How COVID-19 has Transformed Funeral Traditions and Customs

The global pandemic has brought the world to a standstill; even funeral homes Northern Cambria, PA, have been affected. Hardly any aspect of our lives is left untouched by far-reaching reverberations of COVID-19 – and funeral traditions and customs are no exception.

All around the world, people are adapting their centuries-old death traditions so they could still honor the deceased amid this global pandemic. Below are some examples of how COVID-19 has forced major religions to transform and adapt their funeral rituals.

Catholic Prayers and Rituals Went Virtual

For nearly two thousand years, Christians received their last rites from a priest in person. But the corona has forced many priests to go virtual. Thousands of churches and funeral homes around the world have been closed for worship and funeral services and are using live video streaming to pay final goodbye to the dead.

Anointing and touching are considered necessary parts of the ritual, but they have been forced to adapt to the new reality. Now, the friends and family have to log in to an online platform and watch the whole funeral service while sitting at home.

Changes in Traditional Islamic Body Washing

In Islamic funerals, it’s mandatory to wash the body of the deceased before burying. Generally, the immediate family members perform this service and wash the body of the deceased within 24 hours of death. But coronavirus has turned this ritual to medical volunteers who follow strict COVID-19 preventive measures while washing the body – even though there’s no concrete evidence that one may contract this virus from dead bodies.

Virtual Shivas in Jewish Communities

Many Israelis no longer host guests for Shiva– a mourning period lasts one week soon after burying a dead. Here, the bereaved family invites close friends and family to remember and pay tribute to the deceased. It is the single most important event associated with Jewish funerals.

But the corona pandemic has forced many Jews to grieve alone at home and resort to online live video streaming platforms to help close ones get together and pay their condolences. Similarly, many Jews have quit reciting the Kaddish, the religious mourning prayer, as it involves the physical presence of a 10-people quorum in two lines.

Silent Banks on the Ganges

For thousands of years, Hindus have been cremating bodies in the presence of friends and family and dispersing the remains in the Ganges. The big public funeral processions were a common sight in India – but no more. COVID-19 has emptied the might banks of the Ganges river where thousands of people used to watch the giant piles of wood set alight to burn corpses and pay their regards. Now, only a few members of the family are allowed to perform the final services.

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Similarly, minor to significant changes are observed in funeral traditions across all the countries. In a hindsight, people are transforming centuries-old tradition to follow mandatory social distancing restrictions. It has given a stimulus to virtual funerals and the trend is likely to continue in the coming years at funeral homes Northern Cambria, PA.