Grieving a death during the pandemic

Acoffin of a person who died of COVID-19.
An employee of the Chaudoir funeral house adjusts a Christian cross on a coffin of a person who died of COVID-19 at the company's morgue in Namur in April 2020.
John Thys | AFP via Getty Images 2020

The heartbreak of losing someone can feel overwhelming at the best of times. During the pandemic, the death of a loved one can leave an even more intense and lingering grief.  

In the early months of COVID-19, many families weren’t able to be physically at the bedside with relatives who were dying. Funerals were delayed or rushed, leaving the bereaved without the usual rituals and gatherings of support. 

Mental health experts say it’s too soon to tell, but the general strain and loss of the pandemic may be prolonging some people’s grief after a death. 

MPR News guest host Chris Farrell talked with two clergy members and a grief educator about how mourning rituals and grieving are changing during the pandemic. 


  • The Rev. Ron Bell is senior pastor at Camphor United Methodist Church in St. Paul on the board of the Minnesota Coalition for Death Education and Support.  

  • Ted Bowman is an educator, author and consultant who specializes in grief, loss and transition. 

  • Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman is senior rabbi at Temple Israel in Minneapolis. 

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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