Death-care practices in the shadow of the pandemic: Can history help us? — Cody J. Sanders


In the West, there has been a significant shift towards the medicalisation and professionalisation of the end of life, with people more likely to die in hospital than at home, and bodies tended by the funeral industry rather than by loved ones. David Denborough interviewed Reverend Cody J. Sanders about his research on the history of attitudes, practices and understandings in relation to death and dying, particularly our own dead loved ones and community members. They discuss culturally and historically located notions of the ‘good death’, and how they have been challenged by the COVID-19 crisis in which many people have died alone and conventional funeral practices have been curtailed. This disruption provides an opportunity to imagine new ways of practicing death care, including funerals that take account of the more-than-human world. The interview is followed by responses from practitioners from various cultural and religious experiences.