In the latest podcast of the World Council of Churches (WCC) COVID-19 support series, the topic is “death and dying in the midst of the pandemic.” Rev. Dr Mauro de Souza, of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, and Tim Purves, a funeral director in Scotland, share their experiences and insights with Rev. Dr Mikie Roberts, WCC programme executive for Spiritual Life and Faith and Order, and Rev. Matthew Ross, WCC programme executive for Diakonia and Capacity Building.
In Brazil, all of a sudden, the churches had to tell people not to come to church. But Souza points out that the preaching of the Gospel, the prayers and the care for one another is always there and perhaps more needed than ever, albeit through remote and online formats.
“Pastoral care is also on a distance. We must pay particular attention to those who are lonely and make sure people are listened to,” he points out.
Restrictions in terms of social distancing during the pandemic also profoundly affect how funeral services are being planned and carried out.
“It is fair to say that the pandemic has changed every aspect of our work, particularly in terms of face-to-face contacts with families in grief,” explains Tim Purves, who is a funeral director in Edinburgh.
He is deeply concerned about how people are going to cope with the grieving process in times when it is difficult to meet other people. At the same time, he encourages everybody to keep in touch and to take the opportunities there still are to meet people, albeit under strict terms.