30 Sep 2020
The year 2020 has been marred by a lot of conversations and debates about funerals in the African context, given the significant impact of the coronavirus on everyone’s ability to bid a final farewell to their deceased loved ones, the way they are accustomed to. Send-offs are typically categorised as sacred and bear a lot of cultural nuances and significance for many South African families. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed how funerals are observed, how funeral and insurance industries operate, and our habits in general, where death is concerned. Not only are funerals changing in the number of attendees, but the costs attached to a send-off have changed drastically.
When the South African government imposed one of the strictest lockdowns implemented worldwide, no family was spared from the unintended consequences of how the funeral of their loved ones would be carried out. Restricted contact with the deceased, travel restrictions between provinces, as well as restrictions on the number of people who can gather at funerals, have urged us to question whether the way we have become accustomed to send-offs is still relevant, and whether we are undermining the heritage of our culture by doing so in our new-normal.
“As a nation, we are now at the cusp of reimagining how we say farewell to our loved ones safely, while respecting the sanctity of our cultures and traditions. We would like to appeal to aggrieved families to consider innovative ways of observing their traditions and hosting their send-offs; many have done it virtually with some hosting several small memorial and family gatherings. Covid-19 has really changed the way in which we interact with each other, but it also presents opportunities to advance our way of thinking about how not to lose our heritage as we pay homage to our deceased loved ones, because love, respect and community will continue to define who we are,” said Edward Mngoma, Group Executive Director of Sales at Assupol.
While the reopening of economic activity in South Africa is a welcomed relief for all, Assupol urges South Africans to remember that the easing of restrictions does not mean that the threat of the virus has disappeared. With the steady decrease in the number of Covid-19 cases and a possible second wave anticipated, this is the time for South Africans and industries alike, to make the necessary adaptations for our nation’s diverse population to preserve its rich heritage, while observing new safety habits and protocols that may one day, no longer be mandated by government.
“This heritage month we would like to show our support to those who choose to observe their culture in the most safe and dignified way possible, in light of the impact of Covid-19. Even where submitting funeral claims is concerned, clients can make use of digital platforms instead of visiting branches, help to prevent exposure” concluded Mngoma.