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Funeral Etiquette Part IV


A Point of Importance

Very often the women of the family, or perhaps just one woman, finds her grief uncontrollable. Even though the funeral is private, and only relatives and close friends are present it is the privilege of the bereaved to keep to her room and find solace in solitude. The world will not censure her for being absent; it is a time when petty conventions may safely be overlooked. When one is grieving, suffering, miserable; and prefers to find peace alone, without the sympathies of others, she has every right in the world to do so. And she is breaking no rules of good conduct, either, for people of good breeding will recognize the depth of her overpowering grief.

Surely it is better to remain away from the services than to go in a state of hysteria. When sorrow is so poignant, private home services are usually held, in which case the immediate members of the family may gather in a room adjoining that in which the guests are assembled. Even in the deepest grief it is possible to remember and observe the great law__"be calm, be silent and serene," and tears do not always mean sorrow, nor loud wailing, grief.

Removing Signs of Grief

Upon their return from the funeral, the family should find the windows open with the warm sunlight streaming through them and all outward signs of sorrow removed. The ribbon and flowers on the door are generally taken down as soon as the procession leaves.

In the house, all signs of the bereavement should be effaced. The furniture should be placed in its usual order. Everything connected with the funeral must be out of sight. The members of the family should be greeted with nothing, upon their return, that would possibly give cause for fresh sorrow. A considerate friend or relative should stay behind to attend to these details. It is not enough to have everything in the hands of the undertaker and his assistants.

But even relatives should remember that the bereaved ones will want to be by themselves, and that solitude is often the greatest solace for grief.

Seclusion During Mourning

For three weeks after a bereavement, women seclude themselves and receive no visitors except their most intimate friends. After this they are expected to be sufficiently resigned to receive the calls of condolence of their friends and acquaintances. They themselves make no visits until six months after the death.

While wearing crepe veil and crepe-trimmed gowns, a woman should refrain from taking part in all social gaieties. After the crepe has been discarded, she may attend concerts, dinners and luncheons, and the theater; but she attends no large social functions or fashionable dinners until at least a year after the date of death. The usual round of social duties, including balls and the opera, are not resumed until colors are once again adopted.

A man does not observe the etiquette of mourning as rigidly as his wife or daughter; but it is necessary to mention here that it is exceedingly bad form for him to resume his active social duties, such as club dinners and entertainments, the theater, calls, small dinners with friends, until at least two months have elapsed. If business permits, he may observe ten days or two weeks of absolute seclusion.

Dress At Funerals

Those who attend the funeral should not appear in gay or brightly-colored clothes, in deference for the feelings of the sorrowing relatives. Women who wear simple, unrelieved black display an excellent taste although any subdued color is equally good. Gentlemen should wear either complete suits of black, or those of material dark enough to be suited to the solemnity of the occasion. Gray trousers with a black cutaway are permissible. A quiet hat, gloves and necktie are worn. Vivid colors, either on a man or woman, show a disregard for the feeling of the mourners, a lack of respect for oneself, and a distinct ignorance of the laws of good conduct. It is not a gala occasion and levity of any sort is atrociously bad form.

Interment and Cremation

Etiquette has nothing to say with regard to the disposal of the body of the deceased. Whether it is to be interred or cremated, whether the casket shall rest in a grave or a vault or a mausoleum or whether the ashes shall be preserved in an urn or scattered upon a well-loved river or hill or upon some other chosen spot is entirely a matter of personal preference.

But etiquette unites with the laws of beauty and refined sentiment in protesting against the erecting of hideous monuments with absurd inscriptions. The purpose of the tombstone is to mark the resting place and to bear the name and the date of the birth and death of the person who lies beneath it. If the life itself has not left a record that will last a marble slab will not do much to perpetuate it. Sometimes there is a special achievement or a mark of distinction which may with propriety be cut into the stone or the family of the deceased may inscribe thereupon an expression of their grief or love; but flowery inscriptions belong to the past and since there are no words that can adequately express the grief of a sorrowing family for one who has died it is perhaps best not to attempt it.

The hour at which the interment is to take place is appointed to suit the convenience of the family. In cities where a multiplicity of duties makes attendance in the daytime difficult it is customary to have evening services, but under all other circumstances the funeral is scheduled to take place during the day.

(To be continued: Part V)


Website: The History
Article Name: Funeral Etiquette Part IV
Researcher/Transcriber: Miriam Medina


 BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of books " Book of Etiquette" by Lillian Eichler Volume I, Nelson Doubleday, Inc. 1921
Time & Date Stamp:  


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