Death and Culture IV - Presenting our findings on caring for dead bodies
2022-10-06

On 9th September 2022, Jennifer Riley's pre-recorded presentation was shown at the fourth ‘Death and Culture’ conference, this year hosted at York St John University.

Our paper was entitled Conceptualising Care for the Corpse: the pandemic as a lens for examining values and practices related to care for the deceased body. We used some of the rich interview data gathered for the project to illustrate what care for, and interaction with, the deceased body looked like during the pandemic in the UK – both how these were disrupted, and how individuals and organisations responded and adapted.

Drawing on our participants’ insights, Jennie's presentation set out 12 interrelated considerations which informed how people relate to dead bodies, and how they want them to be treated. These diverse considerations show how important considered care for the deceased body is. They also vary in significance from person to person and in different contexts, and can conflict with one another. Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic saw concerns about protection for the living elevated to such a significant concern that some other considerations – such as honouring the deceased’s personal identity, or completing a religious ritual – had to take a back seat, often painfully. This model also encourages us to recognise both diversity and commonalities among people’s reactions to and interactions with dead bodies.

We hope this approach might prove to be a useful illustration or resource for teaching and continuing professional development around deathcare.

If you would like to watch the recording of our presentation, you can enjoy the 20 minute presentation below.

Please click here to take you back to the Care in Funerals website. 

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Published by Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen

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