Since its beginning in May 2020, Rituals in the Making has developed in myriad ways, guided by the generosity of individuals and communities who have shared their experiences with death and mourning during the pandemic.
Here is a sampling of some of those conversations and observations from our fieldwork. They include excerpts from interviews, brief write-ups of events we attended and observed, as well as photo essays.
As with so much of this research, we often find ourselves drawn into the very ‘rituals in the making’ that we seek to understand.
“One of the most important human things we do is honor our dead and grieve.”
“I also want to celebrate my mom’s life and I’m afraid Zoom would just be about her death. My parents had a beautiful life.”
In a way, these two signs create a moment of ironic condemnation. These are two institutions toward which many Americans look for safety and yet suspended between them is a representation of a quarter-million deceased citizens.
When we spoke to Emma, a 27 year-old social work student in Manhattan, she was still feeling overwhelmed by the deaths of her two grandfathers, Bob and Marty. She was also overwhelmed by the rules Jewish funerals necessitated.
“I cut sprigs and then tucked them in the grave by the coffin. I think these were more meaningful than store-bought flowers because they were her flowers. Her azaleas.”