Loss lasts as long as it takes to be accepted,Alfonso Ruiz Soto
suffering lasts as long as it takes to understand.
Accept, understand and transcend
The customs related to death have arranged social behavior in every part of the world according to religions and traditions. In most cases, mourning is the way in which grief is expressed at the loss of a loved one, and this is shown through outward signs such as clothing, ornaments, and other objects during and after funerals. This behavior demands rigor, such as abstaining from entertainment or activities outside the home.
In the Americas, most of the ways of mourning are influenced by Western culture, from European colonization and the presence of the Catholic religion. It is said that the Catholic kings of Spain imposed the so-called Pragmatic of Mourning and Wax, in the sixteenth century, after the death of his son, which determined the customs for all types of mourning until recent years.
The funerals were held in homes, before the existence of funeral parlors or funeral homes; and the coffins were surrounded by candles, according to the beliefs, to illuminate the path of the soul of the deceased towards eternity. Funeral services began to be held during the celebration of the last Christian sacrament or extreme unction for the deceased, which was accompanied by various ceremonies over several days. They were requested to be austere in expenses but, if the deceased was an important personage, they were made with great luxury and paid for by the governments. It was important to comply with the last will and regulations, such as wills, charities, type of funeral, masses, and final destination of the tomb.
Later, when the cemeteries were located outside the cities, the need arose to transfer the bodies from the town to their final destination, and thus the hearses were created: a distinctive and closed vehicle for the transfer. It was in response to the ancient custom of placing flowers on the tombs that funeral wreaths were created, a circular floral offering that, when delivered, was accompanied by a eulogy, that is, a speech or sermon in praise of the deceased. Cemeteries were decorated with cypress trees, and these trees became symbols of mourning because of their shape, which seems to reach the sky, and because their roots do not interfere with graves.
The rule of wearing black clothing was imposed and, if the mourning was for a close relative, it was worn for up to a year. Widows, in addition to the black color of the clothing, abstained from wearing ornaments and makeup and remained locked in their homes with the windows darkened with curtains all that time. Black ribbons and crests were placed inside and outside homes, buildings, and churches, which communicated the death of a person to the community.
There were stores specializing in appropriate clothing, as the influence of the Victorian era in various countries imposed the extension of mourning for up to three or four years for close relatives, and mourners required items for all that time and gradually added colors to their wardrobes.
Another aspect that was required was to avoid exaggerated manifestations of grief or crying since it should be remembered that mental health care is recent; society must have suffered serious consequences when repressing its emotions. Mourning as a way of dealing with the death of a loved one in the eyes of others should not be confused with bereavement, which is the emotional trance experienced after the loss of someone or something significant.
Our expressions regarding loss and death, however, have changed over time and so we offer you these #information tools to understand more about it:
- To this day, some symbols of mourning remain, such as the use of the black ribbon, which has spread to social networks to accompany the news of a death; the same as placing flags at half-mast in case of a tragedy due to war, attacks, or natural disasters.
- When the conquistadors arrived, it was a custom in Europe to take food to cemeteries on All Saints’ Day. Certain foods were prepared such as sweets and breads that imitated the relics or bones of the saints, breads in the shape of children covered with pink sugar, or round breads with bones around them. This is how it spread to the Americas to offer to the deceased in the first days of November. It is a Christian custom that was combined with ancient funeral cults.
- Although the forms change, it is likely that the behavior in the face of one’s own bereavement, or that of others, provokes empathy. It is a personal experience that sadly we have all lived or will live, and it confronts us with our own finitude. Solidarity with the bereaved suggests certain formalities, or so-called funeral etiquette, that are important to note when necessary. In this link, thanatologist Gaby Perez suggests some ideas in this regard.
In our time, ideas about bereavement and grief are more oriented to the emotional needs of the survivors. The study of thanatology helps us to explore loss and learn from those experiences. With the purpose of obtaining a fuller life through knowledge, at Del Pueblo Funeral Home we remind you that we make the most difficult moments easy.