Life A Death Doula’s Take on the Pandemic

A Death Doula’s Take on the Pandemic


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Before COVID-19, funeral and burial arrangements were fairly straightforward—a hands-on process handled by an afterlife professional. But as we watched families quarantined at home with the bodies of their loved ones and New York streets fill up with makeshift morgues due to hospital overcrowding, we couldn’t help but ponder the truth of own mortality, dramatically shifting how we perceive—and care for—the dead virtually overnight.


While the novel coronavirus pandemic rages on, Americans are left with no choice but to prepare for what we will face in the coming weeks, months, and, possibly, years. “I think that people are highly sensitive to the topic of death right now, becoming more acutely aware of how precious life can be and how fragile it is,” says John Christian Phifer, a Nashville-based certified end-of-life doula and the executive director of Larkspur Conservation, a nature preserve in Tennessee’s Highland Rim promoting the revival of traditional, natural burial practices in designated areas.

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