Original Research

Grieving during a pandemic: A psycho-theological response

Mookgo S. Kgatle, Puleng Segalo
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 42, No 1 | a2260 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v42i1.2260 | © 2021 Mookgo S. Kgatle, Puleng Segalo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 05 April 2021 | Published: 29 July 2021

About the author(s)

Mookgo S. Kgatle, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, Faculty of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Puleng Segalo, Chief Albert Luthuli Research Chair, Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


Collective grieving during the death and the burial processes of a loved one forms part of the healing process of many Africans in different contexts. However, with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and the various restrictions imposed during the hard lockdown, the form and shape of grieving has had to change. Factors such as limitations on the number of people who can attend the funeral, lack of contact with the corpse, overall travel restrictions and shortened funeral services have contributed to how people mourn and grieve together. Using a psycho-theological framework, this article argues for the importance of giving serious consideration to both the psychological and spiritual well-being of mourners, specifically in the context of COVID-19. Drawing on an Afrocentric perspective and using a psychological and theological analysis, the article will examine grief, bereavement and mourning, and highlight the ways in which COVID-19 has affected these processes. This analysis will afford us the opportunity to redefine grieving as a psychological and theological response.

Interdisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article juxtaposes the theological perspectives with psychological perspectives in analysing the concept of grief during a pandemic. This article suggests communal grieving in contrast to individualised grieving in order to cope with pandemics such as COVID-19.


grieving; mourning; psychology; theology; psycho-theological theory; COVID-19


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Crossref Citations

1. Why does funeral attendance matter? Revisiting ‘configurational eulogies’ in light of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK
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Mortality  first page: 1  year: 2023  
doi: 10.1080/13576275.2023.2225029