Grief and Mourning throughout Culture March 18, 2021

Grief and Mourning throughout Cultures

.No matter your culture, race or place of origin there is one thing we all have in common, we will all experience death. Loved ones will die, we will grieve and mourn their loss. 

There are many similarities about the way we experience grief and mourning. Different cultures have unique ways to mourn or show that they are grieving. It is quite fascinating to see all the traditions shared among a culture. 

Clothing to Show that you are mourning

There are often traditional  and or customary clothing that is worn at a funeral or during a period of mourning. A common custom in the United States and in western culture is to wear black or dark colored clothing. Wearing black clothing is done out of respect for the deceased and the family. Furthermore, it can even be looked at as disrespectful to not wear dark colored clothing.

  • It is traditional for Eastern widowed Christians to wear black clothing for a mourning period of 40 days.
  • White is the traditional color of mourning in Chinese culture.
  • The attire for medieval European Queens was a white mourning gown. This tradition has been carried on into recent times. In 2004 the daughters of Queen Juliana of the Netherlands all wore white at her funeral.
  • Samoan men will wear lavalavas (skirt like wrap),white shirt, tie, jacket and leather sandals at a funeral. Women will wear pulu tasi  (muumuu).

Cultural Traditions

After the death of a loved one different cultures may have unique traditions to show they are mourning. 

  • Mourning practices continue for 40 days in some religions. Some continue on even longer.
  • In Judaism the one year anniversary of the death is commemorated and the last day of the religious holiday Yom Kippur is reserved to remember loved ones. 
  • In many Native American tribes men grow long hair. When a close family member dies they will cut their hair in a show of mourning the loss. The haircut represents the time spent with the loved one and that it is over and gone. The new growth is the life after.
  • Some Native tribes will host a pow wow after the burial of a loved one.

Show of Emotion Differs According to Culture 

One’s personality determines how emotion if displayed. There is also a cultural component to the way one expresses their emotions. During a time of grief and mourning this is particularly so. 

  • In the UK it is more customary to keep emotions more to yourself especially in a public place or ceremony.
  • In some Polynesian funerals family may hold their emotions in during the funeral and be stoic. Consequently as the procession moves to the grave site there is a bigger show of emotions. 
  • In parts of Africa and South America it is customary to wail uncontrollably to express grief.

Finally, you can see there are so many different wonderful traditions throughout cultures. Something to be respected no matter how it is practiced is the mourning and grieving. This is just a snap shot of all the ways that our loved ones can be remembered and honored. Reach out to your funeral home to help prepare to honor your loved ones in the way that means most to you.

Post a comment