The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected some families who have lost a loved one. As a result, the South African government has amended regulations regarding funeral attendance following new findings by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Previous rules stipulated that the coffins of those who had COVID-19 before death had to be wrapped. However, the government has now ruled this to be unnecessary.

The amendment was made after the WHO revealed that the transmission of the virus from the corpse to a living individual is not, in fact, proven. These new findings now allow for viewings to take place at mortuaries and for the coffin to enter the home of the deceased.

Families may now view the body of their loved ones and it comes as a relief for many, especially following reports of families burying the wrong bodies. It offers a sense of relief for those who were not able to view the body of their loved one or having their body enter the home for the last time.

Dr Happy Setsiba, a Clinical Psychologist, said to East Coast radio people now need to understand that although the dynamics of funerals have changed, the change must be embraced.

“COVID-19 funerals are unusual. That absence of familiarity makes us feel so empty. It makes us feel like there is a void we can’t feel, however, she says it is important to allow the process of healing to take place in the absence of what we were previously used to,” Setsiba said. “Viewing the body, having night vigils, offering support in whatever form, they just help us to get through the process.”

She added that people need to allow themselves to grieve and know that it will take time. “Grief and healing from loss is a process. It is something that will be continuous. You can never say you are done with it.”

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