Mourning Traditions

My Sister-In-Law is going through a really hard time right now, trying to be there for her boyfriend, whose father passed away suddenly. I've been thinking about ways to help them memorialize him or deal with their grief. Are there any relevant rituals or symbols that I might get inspiration from? They are definitely individualist, subculture types.

Even though my inquiry is inspired by personal events, I'm really glad to be able to think of something interesting to ask you, Sir "Perfesser." Smile

rdehwyll's picture


Mourning rituals varied greatly throughout the Medieval time period, according to culture, place, and rank. In northern Europe, those of highest rank, Royalty, had the most elaborate rituals, usually presided over by the highest ranking religious personage available, who followed ceremonial duties handed down from posterity. (This is still done in modern times, especially in European and Asian cultures that have kings. queens, Emperors, etc...) Those of lesser rank, the Nobility, followed the example of the Royalty to the extent their monetary limitations would allow. Typically, mourning for the spouse and children would last a year and a day, but only a month for other members of the immediate family. Servants and other emplyees would express their grief for the period from death to burial, then resume their duties -- though the surviving spouse would often require mourning clothes for those working within the household.

Some cultural differences included the disposal of wealth and personal items, the manner of burial (or cremation of the body), the erection of permanent memorials by the surviving family, private memorial shrines or gifts to religious institutions (The most common example surviving today are memorial stained glass windows), or posthumous readings of letters or other written materials.

This is a very general overview -- more information can be had on the internet or in libraries. I recommend using those resources to gain a fuller understanding.

GreenGlass's picture


This answer definitely makes me want to know more. I will look things up!

Since I read about Victorian mourning clothes, I was intrigued by the mourning clothes in medieval times as well. I think visible symbols of loss are fascinating, and I wonder when mourning clothes first became wide spread.

Han-pan's picture


I've found it theraputic to learn more about my grandfather and great-grandmother since they've passed. I wish I had known this all before they did, but things happen and I have to accept that. I don't think there's any one way to deal with it. But I can say that for her to with him, is a huge comfort. My grandfather died almost three years ago, and sometimes I just need to sit and remember him. It's hard to do that when people are always jabbering about getting over it, because I'm never going to. It is what it is, and I miss him. -shrug-

Alternately, being distracted close to the incident was one way to avoid just barreling through the grief to get it over with.

M'eh. -shrug- That's just my two cents and my experiences. I wish her lots of luck. :]

GreenGlass's picture


You post is very vulnerable, relevant, and, dare I say, sweet. I agree with your conclusions about grief! Thank you for the comment, Han-pan. Smile

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