Mourning Around the World

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It is always hard when people die. No matter what the situation, it seems impossible to deal with the fact that someone you were close to will no longer be around. Although there is no one way to get over this, people have developed ways to make it easier. This process is called mourning. Almost every religion or culture has its own traditions involving mourning. In fact, mourning dates back thousands of years. Archaeologists have found artifacts that suggest that early hominids had their own rituals and burials when a member of the community died. These early humans were found buried alongside useful tools (perhaps ones that would aid them in the afterlife), along with flowers and jewelry. In modern times, many burial rituals are very different from this, and even modern traditions all vary. However, they all ultimately achieve the same thing, which is coming to terms with death.

Different traditions in Christianity have different rules for mourning. The tradition of wearing black during mourning dates back to Roman times or earlier. In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church changed the acceptable liturgical colors to be worn for the Mass for the Dead to violet, black or white. The funeral service for Catholics, particularly in Ireland, is called a wake. A wake takes place sometime between the death and the burial, and in general is held at the family’s house. Although wakes usually involve a viewing of the body, it is often a celebration of the deceased’s life. The word “wake” evolved from the word for “watch” or “guard” and became the term used in “wake for the dead.”

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