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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Art Of Mourning

My heart keeps reminding me that even though I am busy with school, family, and life that something hurtful has happened to it. I feel this constant ache in my heart and tears are not far from falling as I am constantly reminded that I am in the middle of mourning. In times past when a loss occurred it was customary for the ladies of the family to dye their gowns black and dress entirely in black as an indicator that they were in mourning. The mourning period lasted twelve months from the passing of the person. Weddings were prohibited to occur in a family that was in mourning and family gatherings were to be solemn and simple. Once the year of mourning was passed the family members could resume wearing colors or could continue wearing black. Not adhering to these traditions was considered scandalous and all classes observed these traditions.

Women created works of art using hair of the family in mourning, these are called "mourning weaves." These were displayed in honor of the deceased as memorial to their life and passing. It was also apart of the culture to have death masks, take photos, or have art commissioned as a testament of the passing of a loved one. The strict observances later morphed into wearing only a black arm band and observances were lightened. Mothers and Fathers wore black arm bands to indicate their sons or daughters were lost during WW I and WWII. It was like a badge of honor so that others would know what these courageous parents were experiencing.

These observances of mourning to some in our modern era would be seen as macabre or freakish. In our modern day society we do not stop and pause when a loved one dies. We put on a stiff upper lip and continue on in the rat race. We don't stop or change our daily habits or allow others around us to know, "Hey I am in mourning right now, could you cut me a little slack and be gentle with me right now as I am hurting." I wish I could wear something to send the message to those around me that my heart is hurting right now and that I am likely to burst into tears. This is OK, its apart of grieving. In years past our ancestors were accustomed to losing loved ones as the mortality rate was significantly lower then what we enjoy today. It was OK for someone to be sad and grieve. It was expected and their was protocol and traditions observed to allow people to grieve.


Alicia said...

I think you say this beautifully! The world is in such a hurry for everything that we've hurried up the morning period! It has been less than a year since we had an accident that took our neighbors little boys live. I still have a hard time when I think about it and was pondering last night why I am not over it yet. Your post comforted me and let me see that it's ok that it still hurts. Thank you!