manner of caring for the dead is growing gradually into a closer
imitation of life, and we see the dear ones now lying in that
peaceful repose which gives hope to those who view them. No
longer does the gruesome and chilling shroud enwrap the form.
The garments worn in life have taken its place, and men and
women are dressed as in life. It gives a feeling of comfort to
see them thus, for it imparts a natural look which could never
accompany the shroud. Flowers are strewn about the placid face,
and one cannot but remember those grand lines from Bryant:
"He wraps the
drapery of his couch about him,
And lies down to pleasant dreams."
WATCHING THE DEAD:
It is no
longer the custom to watch the dead — an excellent omission, for
many of those vigils were unseemly in their mirth. Some friend
or relative sits up in order to give the dead any attention
necessary. The preparation of the deceased is always attended to
by some kindly friends who are not members of the family, and
that agonizing duty is spared the afflicted ones. It is more
thoughtful for someone to volunteer to remain with the family,
through the long sad night hours. It makes the grief and
loneliness of the house less oppressive.
"Ring the bell softly,
There's crape on the door."
Black crape tied with white ribbon is placed upon the door or
bell knob, as an indication that the dread visitor has entered
the home, and borne away another prize. This should deter the
caller from ringing, if it is possible to bring the attendant to
the door without doing so. No one knows save those who have
passed through a sorrow, how the clang of a bell, with its noisy
reminder of active life, jars upon the nerves. In many houses,
the hall door is left ajar, that friends may enter quietly. The
kindly instincts of the heart tell them to speak softly, and be
helpful and sympathetic. White crape looped with white ribbon is
appropriate for a child or young person. For the aged, black
crape and black ribbon are used.
From six to
eight pall-bearers are chosen from the immediate friends of the
deceased, and near to him in age. A very young girl may be
conveyed to the hearse by girls of her own age. The duty of the
pall-bearers is to carry the coffin from the house to the hearse
— also from the hearse to the grave. The carriage in which they
ride precedes the hearse. They are provided with black gloves
and crape for the arm, when attending an elderly person, but
wear white gloves and white crape for a young person. These are
furnished by the family through the undertaker. Notes are sent
to those who are to act in this capacity, requesting their
HOUSE OF MOURNING:
When the sad event has become known, friends call to offer
their services, but the afflicted ones are not expected to see
any save their most particular friends, whose duty it is to make
all arrangements for the burial, consulting with those most
interested about the details, receive those who call, or fulfill
any and every requirement that may arise. Visits of condolence
are not made until after the funeral.
decides about how many it wishes to invite to the interment, and
provides carriages for them. A list is made out, and given to
the undertaker, that he may know about how many carriages will
be needed, and in what order to arrange them. Many bring their
own carriages, but a certain number is provided by the family,
among which are those for the pall-bearers, and clergyman, when
he accompanies the dead to the grave.
In cities and
towns where death notices are inserted in the papers, the words
"Friends invited," is sufficient invitation to the funeral. But
in smaller places, it becomes necessary to issue invitations to
those whose presence is desired. The invitations are engraved on
small-sized note paper, with wide black border, in this manner:
and family are respectfully invited to attend the funeral of
Miss Stella Mason, from her late residence (number of residence
or the church, if the services are to be held there may be
placed here) on Wednesday, July 14th, at 11 o'clock A. M .
Burial at Forest Home Cemetery."
not slight an invitation to a funeral.
the funeral is held at the house, the family do not view the
remains after the people have begun to assemble. Just before the
clergyman begins the services the mourners are seated near the
casket, the nearest one at the head, and the others following in
order of kinship. If it is possible, they are placed in a room
adjoining, where the words of the service can be heard. They are
thus spared the pain of giving way to their grief before
Those who are
present should look at the dead before they take their seats for
the service, although it is customary for the master of
ceremonies (usually the undertaker)
ere the coffin lid is closed, to invite all who so
desire, to take a last look, ere parting forever.
The casket is never opened at the church, unless it is the
funeral of a prominent man and numbers go to the church for that
purpose, whom the house would not accommodate.
together with those who are to be present at the interment,
should be allowed to pass from the house or church before the
announcement has caused many to remain away from a funeral, lest
they intrude. But it merely means that the interment will be
private, only a few near friends accompanying the remains to the
grave; but at the services all who choose to come will be
these emblems of purity and beauty speak to the mourning heart.
They are the tokens of sympathy sent by friends to comfort the
lonely ones. Their fragrance mingles with the memory of the dear
one who has gone. How fitting that their exquisite beauty and
perfume should mingle with the last sad rites and consolation be
found by silently breathing the heart's emotions in their
love's last gifts; bring flowers, pale flowers."
ORDER OF FUNERAL:
The carriages containing the clergyman and pallbearers come
first. The hearse follows, and behind that are the carriages of
the immediate mourners, in their proper order. At the place of
burial the minister precedes the coffin. An undertaker who is
competent, always directs all the details, so that the family
have no part in any such painful duty.
The sword and
sash of an army or navy officer are laid across the coffin lid,
and the national flag is draped over him. When the deceased is
buried with Masonic or other honors, the lodge or body to which
he belongs, conducts the funeral according to its own formulas.
In case the deceased is a member of an organization that expects
to conduct the services, prompt notice should be sent them, so
that they may have time to prepare for the funeral.
MUST MOURNING BE WORN?
bonnet should be of heavy crape, with white crape or
and the veil must be worn over the face. At the end of three
months she may wear the veil
of her bonnet. This deep veil must be worn a year, and mourning
must be worn two years. Many widows never return to gay colors,
and some wear mourning the rest of their lives.
wears mourning for a year. His mourning must consist of a black
suit, black gloves and necktie, and a deep weed on his hat. Those
are very punctilious in such matters, wear black-edged
linen and black studs and cuff-buttons.
or children deep mourning is worn for a year. After that, though
mourning is worn another year, the material is changed, and
crape is dispensed with.
sudden transition at the end of the period of mourning from
black to glaring colors, should not be made. Any change of this
nature should be gradual.
soft woolen goods for brothers and sisters are worn for six
months; after that gray, black and white can be adopted.
there are no set limits to the period of wearing mourning, for
these matters vary with the individual tastes and feelings of
the wearer. Custom has laid down certain rules, which, however,
can be widely departed from at will.
aunts, cousins and grandparents, black suits without crape are
wear mourning for a parent one year. It seems an unnatural
custom to put very small children into deep black, even for so
near a friend as a parent. The little ones do not comprehend the
loss that has come to them; why teach them the meaning of their
Gentlemen in mourning wear weeds, whose depth is proportioned
to the closeness of their relationship to the dead. Their
mourning is adhered to only as long as the ladies of their
household wear it.
ATTENDING PLACES OF AMUSEMENT:
person in deep mourning does not go into society, or receive or
pay visits. Neither are they found at the theater or other
public places of amusement, unless it is a musical or concert,
for six months. Formerly, a year's seclusion was demanded of a
mourner; as also was the fashion of wearing purple, or
"half-mourning" on leaving off deep black. There are some
natures to whom this isolation long continued, would prove
fatal. Such may be forgiven, if they indulge in innocent
recreations a little earlier than custom believes compatible
with genuine sorrow.
It is not in
good taste to attend a funeral in gay colors. You are not
expected to assume mourning, but nearly every one has a plain,
dark suit that is less noticeable.
are many who do not believe in wearing mourning at all. Such
have a right to refuse it — it concerns no one but themselves.
On the other hand, much can be said in favor of the custom. A
mourning dress is a protection against thoughtless or cruel
inquiries. It is also in consonance with the feelings of the one
bereaved, to whom brightness and
almost a mockery of the woe into which they have been plunged.
With such, garments of mourning are "an outward sign of an
inward sorrow," and they cling to them as the last token of
respect and affection which they can pay the dead.
CARDS AND WRITING-PAPER:
or ladies in mourning use black-bordered cards and stationery
for their social correspondence, until the period of mourning
expires. The width of this border is a matter of taste. But if
they write any letters upon business, they use plain white
bereaved ones send cards announcing their loss to friends. It is
far less harrowing than to write, especially when one's circle
of acquaintance is large. They should say very little:
Chicago, March 25, 1891,
The words "In affectionate remembrance" may be substituted for "In
first calls of condolence should be made by friends within ten
days of the death, but mere acquaintances should not call until
the family have appeared at their place of worship. When those
who are in mourning feel able to receive visits, they announce
the fact by sending out black-edged cards enclosed in envelopes
to those who have called upon them. This custom is not general,
although a very excellent one.
It is best
not to allude to the sorrow unless it is seen that it is
expected of them to do so. It is a relief with some people to
talk of the departed, while it proves a torture to others, and
only reopens the wound.
It is better for the sorrowing ones to mingle with their fellow
creatures as soon as they can endure company. Their own feelings
are their best guides. To some dispositions seclusion is a sweet
and gentle ministry — they are never alone. But to others the
monotony and loneliness strike a chill, and they must have some
change to keep them from a settled melancholy.
is not usual to give or attend entertainments within a year of
the death of a near relative; but if the custom is broken by the
young, it should not excite unkind remarks. Older people should
not expect younger ones to observe such strict rules as they lay
down for themselves. The "young suffer intensely, but it is a
wise provision of nature that it is not as lasting as the grief
of maturer years.
They should pay a suitable respect for the relatives they have
lost; but do not ask them to seclude themselves until their
lives are lastingly shadowed. We owe love and remembrance to the
dead; but we also owe a duty to the living. And if we would
hallow the memory of those we have lost, we should be more
tender toward those who are left us to love and cherish.
beautiful face in the silent air
follows me ever and near,
smiling eyes and amber hair,
With voiceless lips,
yet with breath of prayer,
feel, but cannot hear.
snow-white hand and head of gold
Lie low in
a marble sleep—
I stretch my arms for the clasp of
But the empty air is strangely cold,
And so my
vigil alone I keep!
sinless brow with a radiant crown,
And a cross laid down in the
There's a smile
where never a shadow comes now,
And tears no more from those
dear eyes flow—
So sweet in their innocent trust.
the summer is coming again,
same old song;
But oh, it
sounds like a sob of pain
As it floats in the sunshine
and the rain
O'er the hearts of
the world's great throng.
beautiful land beyond the skies,
And I long
to reach its shore;
For I know I shall find my darling there—
The beautiful eyes and amber hair
loved one gone before.
"What a pleasant thought, that when we come to die people will
show us respect, that they will gather round the casket and
tenderly lay our remains away in the earth for the angels to
watch over till the morning of the resurrection. Tears will fall
upon our grave, and appreciative words will be uttered. But
would it not be well if honors were not entirely posthumous? if
a part of the love and affection that is so freely given to the
dead, had encircled them when living?"
sometimes think that it would be best
hands that labor were folded o'er
The silent breast in the last
think of the friends who have gone before;
Who have crossed o'er
the river's rolling tide
And reached the home on the other side.
so far to the wished for day,
and lonely, and lost I roam;
I feel like a child who has lost
always longing for home, sweet home!
But I say to my yearning
heart: "Be still,
We'll go home when it is God's will.
is long, but the day will break
When the light of
Eternity, streaming down
On the cross we bear for the Master's
Will guide our steps to the promised crown.
A little while, and the gate is passed—
Home, and heaven, and rest at last!
from... Polite Society at Home
and Abroad, 1891. .