Friday, July 18, 2014

Etiquette: The Mourning Period

My husband and I find ourselves often consulting the copy of The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette by Nancy Tuckerman and Nancy Dunnan that his mother gave him upon graduation from high school. It is a bit dated, the 1995 edition we own having last been updated in 1978, but we find it an extremely useful guide when we have questions about how to appropriately proceed. I know we are discussing modern manners, not those of Jane Austen's era, but I have decided to start posting when we consult the book, as I just find it so fascinating. Miss Austen, after all, would want us all to be well-mannered, wouldn't she?

My grandfather has been dead for a week, and I find myself drawn back to Ms. Vanderbilt and what she has to say about wearing black.

Some people take much longer than others to recover from the death of a loved one The healing time should never be rushed; in fact, expressing grief is an important part of the recovery process. There is no longer such a thing as a prescribed mourning period for those close to the deceased. In the past, a widow or widower was expected to mourn (and wear black) for a year or, in some religions, for the rest of his or her life. Fortunately this has changed. Sensible people would want their surviving loved ones to continue on with life. 

I can't argue with the part about not mourning forever, but I think we have lost something in the relaxation of mourning expectations. Some people might be able to turn around and resume their normal lives, but I think most of us find it rather difficult. In the days when we donned arm bands and bombazine, everyone could see a mile away we that we grieved. There was no need to explain, and all knew delicacy might be required when interacting with a mourner. I wish I had that barrier of protection now. I think I'd prefer to be anxious for a period of mourning to end than feel it was inadequate.

No comments:

Post a Comment