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“You are on mute” – On change and continuity in funerals during a pandemic

Dr Dan O'Brien will discuss with Sue Chard the changes in funerals and challenges of continuity during recent years and in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.


CDAS In Conversation with Sue Chard and Dr Dan O'Brien

Sue Chard completed an MSc at CDAS in 2017 where she considered how the initial questions asked by a Funeral Director impact the funeral rite that takes place. In her dissertation she framed the idea of Seculigion (Chard 2016) where mourners bring to the funeral a representation of their personal theologies. These often bridge God and No God all at the same time: Lord’s prayer and Death metal considered and placed in the same funeral. She witnessed the emergence of the freedom to do this in the later twentieth century, and continues to be interested in why we make the choices we do for the funerals we find ourselves organising.

Dr Dan O’Brien is a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Death and Society, University of Bath. His research focuses on the undertaking trade and their products in eighteenth century England. This has included a detailed analysis of the early trade in the west of England, with a specific focus on the prosperous settlements of Bath, Bristol and Salisbury. His current research focuses on people’s knowledge about the early undertaking trade in the eighteenth century. By studying the ways in which undertakers were presented by people inside and outside of the trade, the project intends to build a picture of what ‘undertaking’ meant in the period.