By definition, mourning is visceral and emotionally draining – an act of showing our deep sense of loss. Funerals and various customs of mourning or funeral tributes have existed throughout the world for centuries. While homogeneous in thought, they’re often different in the details.
Mourn /ˈmȯrn / verb
- explicitly feel or show deep sorrow or regret for (someone or their death)
Our around the world series looks at various ways in which people cope, grieve and allow themselves to move forward after a passing. We share these with the hope that you may find a connection that leads you in a positive direction. Sometimes we do have to travel far away from where we’re at, to reach back where we belong.
Suggested Read: Unusual Funeral And Burial Practices
5 Different Customs of Funeral Tributes
1. Lighting an Oil Lamp
Hindus in India light a sesame oil lamp in the corner of the house or under a tree to honor the deceased. They keep this lamp burning for ten days and often chant shlokas at the time of lighting the lamp. The lamp indicates the removal of darkness that surrounds the deceased. Hindus believe in afterlife, and believe that the soul lives on.
2. Walking with Sticks
Some Buddhist families who have lost someone, walk using sticks during mourning. This is to symbolize that their deep sense of loss and grief has left them with a need for support. Many also chant sutras and burn incense in the air for purity to honor the deceased.
3. A Celebration of Life
Quakers see a funeral service as a place for gratefulness. They believe in sharing the love for the deceased. This is usually done by offering prayers, memories, and songs. They stay together in silent meditation to provide comfort to those who have lost someone close.
4. An Offering of Cloth on Behalf of the Deceased
In Buddhist traditions in Sri Lanka, before the cremation of the deceased, the priest or monastics organizing the cremation are offered with a piece of white cloth. This is eventually used to stitch robes for the monastics.
5. Whispering Prayers in the Deceased Ears
Those following Zoroastrianism have two family members sitting close to the body of the deceased. One of the family members will whisper prayers into the ear of the deceased. Other family members are invited to pay their last respects to the deceased while prayers are being continuously recited.
Is there a specific tradition that you have found particularly comforting or respectful for honoring anyone’s passing? Please feel free to share it with the community here.