Disembodied ritual: An explorative study on the meanings of physical absence during funerals by bereaved in times of COVID-19

Tamara Van Schaik, Joanna Wojtkowiak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic


Death is accompanied by rituals in every culture. It seems universal that we symbolically approach this life transition. This study focuses on experiences of bereaved who could not physically attend a funeral during COVID-19. Ten Dutch bereaved were interviewed. Disembodiment in terms of (1) not participating in ritual time and place, (2) experiencing live-stream funerals as lonely, and (3) feeling a disruption of one’s grief, were revealed as main themes by thematic analysis. Without physical participation the respondents felt (partially) disconnected from the ritual and isolated from the community. The physical absence impacted ritual transformation and meaning making after a loss.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDeath Studies
Early online date22 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2022

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