How do Funeral Practices impact Bereaved Relatives' Mental Health, Grief and Bereavement? A Mixed Methods Review with Implications for COVID-19
Those who are bereaved during the current COVID-19 pandemic are subject to restrictions on funeral sizes and practices. We conducted a rapid review synthesising the quantitative and qualitative evidence regarding the effect of funeral practices on bereaved relatives’ mental health and bereavement outcomes. Searches of MEDLINE, PsycINFO, KSR Evidence, and COVID-related resources were conducted. 805 records were screened; 17 studies of variable quality were included. Current evidence regarding the effect of funeral practices on bereaved relatives’ mental health and bereavement outcomes is inconclusive. Five observational studies found benefits from funeral participation while six did not. However, qualitative research provides additional insight: the benefit of after-death rituals including funerals depends on the ability of the bereaved to shape those rituals and say goodbye in a way which is meaningful for them. Findings highlight the important role of funeral officiants during the pandemic. Research is needed to better understand the experiences and sequalae of grief and bereavement during COVID-19.