When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Workers in protective suits are shoveling earth at a funeral in Mexico, Tijuana.
Workers in protective suits are shoveling earth at a funeral in Mexico, Tijuana.
Omar Martü­Nez/DPA/ZUMA
Bertrand Hauger

We talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic is upending so many aspects of our lives, yet it is foremost a story about death. Every day in this strange new normal, death counts close to home and around the world are updated, displayed, analyzed; figures are given, curves are drawn, graphs are made, allowing all of us to visualize, understand and hopefully help contain the spread of the lethal virus. Death, not to put too fine a point on it, is everywhere.


And yet, at the same time we feel its omnipresence, death itself is somehow being altered by the virus: For sanitary reasons, bodies of loved ones are carried away before they can be mourned, while social distancing measures limit the extent of funerals. Mourners around the world lament the difficulty of burying their dead, one of the key rites that define us as humans, and that intrinsically requires proximity, comforting, and general displays of affection — all very much incompatible with the current health guidelines and restrictions.


The French call this a double peine, meaning both "double punishment" and "double sorrow," as bereavement becomes an even lonelier affair. Where to add to the pain of losing someone, survivors also have to accept when undertakers tell them that the only thing they can do is "drop the body at the cemetery," as U.S. writer and editor Nicole Chung recounts in Wired.


To adapt the grieving process to our new solitary standards, technology has come to the rescue, with funeral homes offering to stream ceremonies via Zoom, drive-in interments, or grief therapists sending customized texts twice a week for a year. These adjustments, superficial as they may seem, all aim at bringing some measure of comfort back into funerary customs which, as Irish public broadcaster RTÉ reminds us, have evolved through the ages.


But with the world at a standstill, and billions of individuals mourning other less permanent losses (be it their income or their freedoms), there may be some solace in knowing that more than ever, people can deeply relate and truly commiserate. This collective grief at least provides some sense of community for all impacted, at different levels, by the coronavirus crisis, a we're-all-in-this-togetherness, albeit from a distance.


This may add another layer of injustice for a less visible, although very much still present, kind of mourner: those who have lost someone during the pandemic — but not to the pandemic. Because yes, people are still dying from other causes; and mourning them when death is all around, has become a near impossible task, as journalist Ola Salem experienced recently:


My aunt died last night in Egypt. She didn't have covid (that we know of), but because of covid she died alone. No one could visit her. Her children are stuck overseas. They didn't even get to say goodbye. My heart breaks for them and everyone else who doesn't get to say goodbye.


For those mourners, the peine, then, is triple. Not only have they lost someone, not only are they not able to mourn them properly — they have to find a way to process their "regular" loss amid a collective grieving for something else. It's a strange new normal indeed, when we are left longing not just for simpler lives, but simpler deaths.

Keep reading... Show less
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

AMLO Power Grab: Mexico's Electoral Reform Would Make Machiavelli Proud

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO, says his plans to reform the electoral system are a way to save taxpayer money. A closer look tells a different story.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico votes

Luis Rubio

OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — For supporters of Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) the goal is clear: to keep power beyond the 2024 general election, at any price. Finally, the engineers of the much-touted Fourth Transformation, ALMO's 2018 campaign promise to do away with the privileged abuses that have plagued Mexican politics for decades, are showing their colors.

Current electoral laws date back to the 1990s, when unending electoral disputes were a constant of every voting round and impeded effective governance in numerous states and districts. The National Electoral Institute (INE) and its predecessor, the IFE, were created to solve once and for all those endemic disputes.

Their promoters hoped Mexico could expect a more honest future, with the electoral question resolved. The 2006 presidential elections, which included AMLO as a recalcitrant loser, showed this was hoping for too much. That election is also, remotely, at the source of the president's new electoral initiative.

Keep reading... Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch Video Show less
MOST READ