Lucia has something to say

Friday, December 01, 2006

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.


Blogger meno said...

What an interesting set of mourning customs. Do you know the reasoning behind the no garlic rule?

12:35 PM  
Blogger karmic said...

Perhaps you being non-Nepalese this strikes you as different and better way of doing things.

As a Hindu and someone who lost a close relative (*A*'s brother) last year, I was witness for the first time to the many mourning rituals that are followed in India. I understand that this is a time to reflect and mourn the departed, but the depth and length of these rituals (including the hair to be shaved, and prayers for the departed soul) made me yearn for something a bit shorter and less elaborate.
But I am not very religious and maybe that is where I am coming from. Just a different point of view for you.
When do you get back?

12:42 PM  
Blogger Lynnea said...

I find it interesting too. I think I understand what you are saying, that perhaps wearing the grief or displaying it or honoring it in a way like this helps one to come to terms with it. In our society it would seem that we supress grief and keep it to ourselves more - which I would think is the tougher way to deal.

Are you still stuck in airport limbo? Hope the trip home is comfortable and not too long.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Tink said...

I really like this idea. When my grandfather died I hated having to explain to people why I was sad or "out of it." I would have loved for them to notice I was wearing white and gave me the space and time I required.

3:54 PM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

Agree with Tink. That is why I value those customs so much. :)



7:12 PM  
Blogger Lucia said...

meno: No idea...maybe sanjay knows.

sanjay: Yeah, I can see where this may go on too long. I see my friend again in May in Belgium, and it's a bummer that we couldn't have a beer in Nepal and won't have one together in Belguim either.

maggie: I do think my feelings about this do have to do with a way of honoring...

tink: ...and having a way to say I'm grieving, so I'm not here 100% right now.

chani: Yeah. Thought about you the 2 nights I was in Bangkok (or maybe the equivalent of my big toe was in Bangkok).

7:17 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

wow those are very interesting mourning customs.

9:08 PM  
Blogger amusing said...

Perhaps we are losing touch with ritual in this country. Hence the push to re-establish things like "family dinners" and "Game night" -- ritual gives us something to connect to, to count on, to acknowledge, to participate in, to honor.

WHen I had a baby, I felt like I deserved to wear a tiara or a sash. "Look what I did, everyone! I made a person!" (Subtext: "and now for the rest of its life, I will care and worry and encourage and feel guilt and joy, etc.")

After the Husband-at-the-time left, I bought myself a tiara. I wear it around the house sometimes. Queen of my little world. All hail the queen.

8:33 AM  
Blogger QT said...

I like this concept but it is too public for me right when someone dies. I don't like to talk about it or even acknowledge it until I have rolled it around in my brain for awhile.

10:09 PM  

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