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How is COVID-19 changing the way we die? | DW Documentary

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People & Blogs
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Published on 31 May 2021 / In People & Blogs

Nearly 80,000 people have died of COVID-19 since the coronavirus pandemic hit Germany. Behind every statistic lies a sad personal story about the fates of individuals and their families.

One terrible thing about COVID-19 is not just that people are dying of it, but the circumstances in which they die. A COVID-19 death often occurs in isolation, behind closed doors. How can we cope with this? Reporters Nicola Albrecht and Susann von Lojewski examine how COVID-19 has changed our experience of death. They speak to people who have lost loved ones, such as Manu, who lost his fiancée Brittanya to COVID-19 - she was just 29. Posting on Instagram from her sickbed, rapper Brittanya gave herself and her fans confidence to fight the battle against the virus. She died a few days later. Ralf Brepohl lost his mother and has been asking himself ever since whether he was the one who infected her. He says that he would never forgive himself. Often, intensive care workers are the last people allowed to accompany patients who are sick and dying of COVID-19. And even if they are now used to it, COVID-19 is pushing them to the limit. Nurse Celine Pinkau from Senftenberg describes the moment she had to put a patient she’d grown fond of into a clinically sealed body bag. "I cried. I thought, ‘Where is the humanity in this? Where is the dignity?’" Hospital chaplains like Stefan Pfeifer are not always able to comfort bereaved family members. He is worried that being unable to say goodbye to their loved ones will take a major emotional toll on them. The film shows how COVID-19 has brutally disrupted our death rituals and asks how we can give as much dignity as possible to the dying, also in the time of the coronavirus.


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