Manifestations of Mourning
A good friend of mine in Nepal (who, I would mention, is a real inspiration to me) was wearing a cap every time I saw him. I noticed he was going a little salt and pepper in the back, and thought perhaps he was balding or graying at an alarming rate. I learned after spending some time with him that he is wearing a cap because his father died two months ago, at the age of 86, and following tradition, my friend shaved off his hair and is a bit self conscious about it. If he follows tradition, he will shave it once a month for the year. He also will not drink alcohol or eat meat for that year.
If he were following full mourning protocol, he would not eat onion, garlic or tomatoes, and he would wear white for the year. (Red for weddings; white for mourning.)
Having lost both of my parents, I understand the weight of this loss and wish culturally that I had had ways of expressing the grief...of something being physically different in accordance with my loss.
I fully believe that in nearly every circumstance, there are many ways to do things. This, I think, is a better way.