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Accepted Paper:

Dying alone, silent funerals, mourning in isolation − death practices in Croatia during the COVID-19 pandemic  

Authors:

Ana Perinić Lewis (Institute for Anthropological Research)
Petra Rajić Šikanjić (Institute for Anthropological Research)

Paper short abstract:

The COVID-19 pandemic influences dying, death practices, and mourning. People are often reduced to data points. Using a qualitative approach, we study the experiences and emotions of persons who had to undergo the death and funeral of close family members during the strict lockdown in Croatia.

Paper long abstract:

There were numerous and significant challenges in the process of death, dealing with death and bereavement during the pandemic. We explored the experiences and emotions of persons who had to undergo the death and funeral of close family members during the strict lockdown (from March 20th to May 6th) and the most restrictive measures introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Republic of Croatia. Guidelines regarding handling bodies, carrying funerals, and burials affected dying, death, and mourning, resulting in changes in funeral practices and rituals. Recommendations included silent funeral within the closest family circle, and mourning in isolation. Semi-structured in-depth, face-to-face interviews with family members who lost loved one during the strict lockdown identified dying and grieving alone in isolation as the most important issues. Bereaved have different experiences if death was caused by COVID-19. Furthermore, there were differences in silent funerals and mourning traditions between rural and urban areas. Mourners accepted the new rules and adapted to them by modifying the grieving process and inventing new practices. Also, they found forms of opposition to changed funeral practices and subversion of given regulations. The lack of known rituals, traditions, and grieving practices caused feelings of insecurity and even guilt among the bereaved.

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