*** This lecture takes place in English ***

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our burial practices: funerals were to be held in small parties, online, or were not possible at all during different stages of the pandemic. Medical concerns focused not only on the funeral guests, but also on the deceased. How do we deal respectfully with victims of, for instance, a viral disease? And what happens when one's religious or cultural tradition conflicts with the medical demands? How can a government respect the right to mourn and bury in the desired way, while also respecting public health concerns? What are the concerns about death care in times of crisis? 

In this session, we have the honor to welcome dr. Halina Suwalowska (Oxford) and dr. Joanna Wojtkowiak (UvH). The night will be moderated by Sarah Ouwekerk (journalist at NRC). 

Though we prefer your physical presence, the session will also be recorded and made available online. 

Dr. Joanna Wojtkowiak studies existential questions in moments of transition (e.g. birth and death) from multidisciplinary perspectives, such as religious studies, cultural psychology, and anthropology. She is particularly interested in how re-invented rituals can support existential and spiritual questions individually and collectively, such as in grief and death. During the Covid crisis, she co-authored a practical guide for the Dutch healthcare context on how to perform rituals in death and dying in the context of the imposed restrictions. She is currently working as an assistant professor at the Univerisity of Humanistic Studies (The Netherlands) and is the coordinator of the Bachelor's program in Humanistic Studies. 

foto (c) Jens Compernolle (@) sightways.be.

Dr. Halina Suwalowska is a Researcher in Global Health Bioethics at the Ethox Centre, Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities (WEH) at the University of Oxford. She is working with the Oxford-Johns Hopkins Global Infectiou

s Disease Ethics Collaborative (GLIDE) and Epidemic Ethics (EE) network led by the World Health Organisation.  Her particular focus is on the ethical and social issues emerging in managing dead bodies during natural disasters and epidemics and the challenges experienced by frontline staff and ‘last responders’ when caring for the dead. Halina is a sociologist. She completed a DPhil in Population Health at the Ethox Centre in 2020. Before joining the Ethox Centre, Halina worked at the Wellcome Trust in London. Halina is a member of the Global Health Bioethics Network.

Sarah Ouwerkerk is a journalist at NRC, a Dutch national newspaper. She has written about different aspects of death, not only deathcare and mourning, but also the existential fear of dying and the need for rituals after someone has passed. During covid she has written about grieve and saying goodbye digitally, through a livestream, and what that meant for the process of accepting the loss of a loved one. She also interviewed people from funeral homes about doing their job during a lockdown. They saw how being forced to have a small ceremony due to the restrictions meant extra heartbreak for some, while it brought comfort for others.