A better path is often cleared for us to travel behind the experience of others.
When it comes to the subject of grief and loss, our family has experienced death and loss perhaps more than most. I have found in today’s society we have lost an old tradition that provided so many benefits for the family members left behind – the tradition of Mourning. From our personal experience of loss, grief and mourning, we have revived this lost tradition in an attempt to remember the departed, respect the grieving and enhance the funeral experience offering the opportunity to share the memory of the lost loved one…again, offering the chance to say “let me tell you about…”
The idea was borne from a conversation between my sisters and mum. My sister who had been to a wake of her friend’s grandmother explained how uncomfortable and embarrassed she felt as a result of not being able to locate her friend who was not in the wake house at the time, and not knowing the immediate family with whom she should sympathize. Each of us gave examples of wakes and funerals that we had attended where we had experienced similar, uncomfortable and embarrassing situations. We also recalled our own family wake of my father and how some visitors had walked past us not realizing that we were daughters and how uncomfortable that felt. We talked about the loud whispers of people asking who was who and the stories that are lost about the deceased as a result of missed opportunities for sharing.
We use signs and symbols in our daily lives all the time, a green cross represents a pharmacy, a pink ribbon caner and so on. At a wedding even the groom’s family wear a flower pin to identify the immediate family members. Symbols are important to help steer people in the right direction and to communicate a meaning. When it comes to grief and mourning, we have lost respect for the mourning process reducing the display of mourning to a wrist band or a bumper sticker.
We also live in a society that avoids the process of mourning, our impatient grief culture wants us to “get over” our loss as quickly as possible because we as a society cannot handle dealing with those who are grieving. In times past, most cultures have not only honored their loved ones with tributes at services, but also wore jewelry, armbands and black as outward displays during a time of mourning.
In his book, Coaching at End of Life, Dr Don Eisenhauer PCC and Pastor explains that grief is what we feel on the inside after a loved one has died. It is the composite of thoughts and feelings about loss that is experienced internally within an individual. Mourning is the outward and visible expression of that grief. Dr Eisenhauer explains that it is not enough for a person to feel grief, healthy grief must involve mourning. Dr Alan Wolfelt also highlights that mourning is what makes it possible for us to experience, eventually, a sense of renewed meaning and purpose in our lives.
I am passionate in reviving this old tradition to enhance the funeral experience not only for attendees but for the families of the deceased who benefit from the wonderful stories that would have been lost. I believe that reviving and preserving the tradition by wearing a symbol of mourning provides a special significance in remembering the departed and respecting the grieving at what is a very difficult time and in doing so providing the opportunity to authentically mourn. Some family members continue to wear a bereavement pin as an outward expression of their grief daily and on anniversaries facilitating the mourning process.
Helping your families honor their loved ones will be beneficial for your business. It also helps in providing them a bond with your funeral home because of your respect for their grief and for your respect in the time honored tradition of mourning. FBA
Kate Hamilton is the Founder and Managing Director of Mourning Cross. She has gained respect within the industry from Funeral Directors and families alike. In addition to developing Mourning Cross, Kate has also developed funeralfriend.co.uk a go to resource on all things Funerals and grief and now boasts a readership of over 15,000 hits per month. She has also launched The Funeral Ladies with an article on research she has carried out with 57 funeral directors entitled; “The Emotional Cost of Being a Funeral Director. Kate is also studying Coaching at End of Life. You can reach Kate by email at [email protected]