The Etiquette Of Mourning

Dear Diary,

The last few weeks have been so sad. I have been surrounded by families mourning their loved ones and amongst it all observing cultural etiquettes from cast to cast.

In an Asian house, the moment someone passes away, people visit in their masses to pay their respects. The family play host to their guests whilst mourning their loss. It is seen by the elder generation as the right thing to do and as much as offensive if people do not visit. The younger generation much prefer quiet and peaceful reflection as well as space and time to mourn as a family.

This culture clash was extremely evident in a household where a young mother and family friend had lost her husband. Hers and her daughter’s loss was secondary to her mother-in-law’s, who sat wailing whilst being served on hand and foot by her daughter-in-law.

At another funeral, the order in which the family members stood to be greeted was extremely important. For the elder generation, this was their way of maintaining respect and alleviating the risk of offending anyone.

In some families, whilst women perform the ceremonies at home, they do not attend the funeral service and in others women who are pregnant stay away regardless of whether the person who has died is their husband.

One of the most bizarre invites I had over the past weeks was to have tea with my friend’s dead mum the night before her funeral. As much as I wanted to be supportive to my friend, I had to decline this invitation as I found this extremely uncomfortable and do not think that my presence would have been of any support.

Who knows what my wishes will be should I lose someone close to me but I hope that I am burdened less with cultural etiquettes and provided more with personal space to mourn.




2 Comments to “The Etiquette Of Mourning”

  1. My mother was so stressed about getting to her friend’s aunt’s funeral on time in order to support her friend. While I admire my mother’s closeness to her friends I find the fine etiquette or customs and practices are difficult to remember. My mother remembers exactly who did not come to pay her respects when my grandmother passed away but I would like to think that in our generation we will do things our own way.

    I would not like to have obscure distant relatives around me if I was upset but perhaps it is comforting for others.

    I find the British custom of getting drunk at funerals odd and the justification of ‘it’s what they would have wanted’ unconvincing. My Greek, Spanish friends and I all discussed this custom and how different our way of remembering the recently deceased and paying respects was.

  2. I’m not a religious person so I usually find it difficult accepting and understanding strange customs and etiquettes, especially around the time of the loss of a life. Saying that, I believe people need to mourn in the way that helps them deal with their lost loved one and I guess adhering to customs for some is one method. Respect and understanding are paramount here for those who are suffering – that includes the guests (this word doesn’t seem appropriate for this subject matter for some reason) who may also be finding it difficult to deal with the family’s customs, and death itself. Such and emotional time – my heart goes out to those who’ve lost their loved ones.
    Interesting post xx

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