Departamento de Arquitetura da Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia da Universidade de Coimbra
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As the covid-19 epidemic progresses, we have built efforts to develop new laws and customs that protect ourselves and our loved ones. But even with great amounts of medical staff, equipment and technology available, it has not been enough to prevent the overflow of hospitals resulting in deaths for 18% of the closed cases by the end of March, which are about 30,300 people.
In the last few months, funerals in Italy have been momentary and not allowing more than two persons, some memorials have to be online as grieving is made from afar. In Spain, corpses amounted in such short notice that an ice skating rink had to be adapted into a temporary morgue. Families cannot look at the deceased, since the undertaker is prohibited to prepare the body and neither can the casket be open due to the risk of infection.
This safe, yet rigorous method raises the question: Have we not learned enough to be able to properly arrange a farewell ritual with the bodies of our loved ones during times of crisis? The fact that this is a dire period further justifies the arrangement of an efficient and fitting way, religious or not, that allows the act of farewell between the deceased and the family. This is important for the living because this final contact later evokes a feeling of closure, which is crucial for the welfare of a person’s mind and could be arranged with proper legislation and good conduct.
For example, specialized teams could be assigned, with protective and sterilized equipment to prepare the bodies before the ritual. The mourning would occur in a special booth, where the open casket would be laid down in a sealed space with proper ventilation and sanitation. The families could watch from the other side of the booth through a transparent material, open to the outside. There could even be a special camera that would stream the event to other family members, or a box to place a belonging to accompany the deceased.
Our efforts should be directed to the ones that still live, this is why we should raise awareness to the way we as a society express care for our losses, not only to honor the dead but also to safeguard our mental health and find more efficient ways to face a crisis in the future.
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Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University