AnniPotts, Big Brother, death, Easter, Easter Vigil, Easter Vigil Bet, family, Fun With Cars, grief, Holy Week, Hot Josh, Jacob, Little Miss Stinker, Mariah, MDoS, mourning, Pixie, Sae, The Beautiful T, The Duchess, Triduum, Victorian mourning customs
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Victorian mourning customs. Back then, when someone close to you died, you wore black. It was an outward sign of an inner grief. The amount of black you wore, and the length of time you wore it depended on how close you were to the deceased, but while you wore black everyone who saw you knew that you were going through Something Big without you having to say a word. Beyond wearing black, those who were in mourning weren’t expected to go out in society, or seek romantic relationships. For a while all they had to do was deal with their grief, mourn their loved one. And then, after a time, when they were ready, they put their mourning aside, started wearing colors, and reentered society.
These last few months I’ve come to appreciate how useful customs like these can be. In our society, public mourning ends with the funeral. You go to the reception afterward, and then you move on. Any grieving after that takes place behind closed doors, in private. The bereaved are expected to return to normal life, take up their jobs, go back to school, carry on as if nothing happened. Soon there’s nothing there to mark that Something Big has happened, continues to happen, in their life – except the absence that only those who know what to look for can see. Even if I, say, started wearing all black (which, honestly, I like blue too much to do), most people would think I was expressing odd Goth tendencies, not mourning a loss. There’s no established way to show outwardly what is going on inside.
I was talking to The Duchess about this on Saturday. She agreed with me, and today when all of us were together (except AnniPotts, who had to choose coming in next weekend for MDoS and The Beautiful T’s wedding over being with us for Easter, and Big Brother who had to stay in Korea) she proposed the following suggestion. None of us can put on full mourning, but if we want we can wear a symbol of our grief. She suggested that we make bracelets, the kind we spent summers in grade school knotting out of embroidery thread. We could all choose what colors we liked, and then we would wear them until they fell off. It would be our own, small version of mourning, a little thing we can put on as a symbol of the big change that has happened. And so we did. For the first time since seventh grade, I’m wearing a friendship bracelet. I resisted the urge to make it all black, which was good since there was a limited supply of black thread and everyone wanted some. Instead it’s mostly blue and gray. 99.9% of the people who see it will have no idea of what it means, but I’ll know. And so will you.
Other than that, the main thing I can say about Holy Week, the Triduum (the three days of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday), and Easter is, well, I survived. I got through Holy Thursday, Good Friday when all the forces in the universe seemed to be conspiring against me (let’s just say that it was a vast scheme encompassing cat litter, baby ferrets, Ukrainian Easter egg dying, and a very nice tow truck operator who rescued me and Indy from the side of the road out by Dayton Mall), and the Easter Vigil. I cried almost the entire way through, but I made it. Sae won the Eater Vigil bet, Pixie and HotJosh’s first born showed amazing aplomb as she was baptized (not a single cry. Not one), and Mariah made a beautiful Godmother. Today I spent with my family. And it was good.