Diane Kalas, Inspirational Historical Romance Author

“Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12 (KJV)





Sunday, April 8, 2012

19th Century Funerals - Part 2

FROM DIANE'S ANTIQUE BOOK COLLECTION

A visit to the Etiquette instructor . . .

            The hired mutes and heavy trappings of woe which are still in use at funerals in England are entirely abandoned in this country.
            All manner of ostentation should be carefully avoided. Mourning is rejected by many persons of intelligence, who think it a temptation to extravagance, and who regard it, moreover, as requiring too much thought and trouble when the mind is overwhelmed with real grief.

Invitations to a Funeral. On the mournful occasion when death takes place, the most proper course is to announce the deceased in the newspaper. An intimation that friends will kindly accept such notice, appended to the announcement, saves a large amount of painful correspondence.
            Near relations, and those whose presence is desired at the funeral, should be communicated with by letter, upon mourning paper; the depth of the mourning border depending on the age, or position, of the deceased.
            Private invitations are usually printed in forms something like the following:
            “You are respectfully invited to attend the funeral of John Jones on Friday, June 3, 18--, at 11 a.m., from his late residence, 417 Washington Street (or from Grace M. E. Church). To proceed to Gracewood Cemetery.
            These invitations should be delivered by a private messenger.
            Whether other invitations are sent or not, notes must be sent to those who are desired to act as pallbearers.

Charge of Affairs at a Funeral. The arrangements for the funeral are usually left to the undertaker, who best knows how to proceed, and who will save the family of the deceased all the cares and annoyances at the time they are least fitted to meet them.
            Such details as usually do not fall to the undertaker are entrusted to some relative or friend who is acquainted with business. This friend should have an interview with the family or some representative of it, and learn what their wishes may be and receive from them a limit of expenses.

Expense of Funeral. As to this limit, let it be born in mind that it should always be according to the means of the family; that nothing can excuse an extravagance and display at a funeral which must be indulged in at the expense of privation afterward, or perhaps, worse still, at that of the creditors. Pomp and display are at all times out of keeping with the solemn occasion and inconsistent with real grief.



General Rules or Etiquette Concerning Houses of Mourning. No one should call upon a bereaved family while the dead remains in the house, and they are excusable if they refuse to see friends and relatives.
            Upon a death occurring in a house, it is desirable that some outward sign should be given to keep away casual visitors. The usual means of doing this is by tying black crape upon the bell or doorknob, with a black ribbon if the person is married or advanced in years, with a white one if young and unmarried. The custom of different localities designate when this crape should be removed.

Conveyances for a Funeral. For those friends specially invited, carriages should be furnished to take them to the cemetery. A list of invited persons should be given to the undertaker, that he may know the order in which they are to be placed in the carriage.

 Exhibiting the Corpse. If the guests are invited to go from the house to the church, the corpse is usually exposed in the drawing-room, while the family are assembled in another apartment. If the guests go directly to the church, the coffin is placed in front of the chancel, and after the services the lid is removed and friends pass up one aisle, past the coffin, from the feet to the head, and down the other aisle out.

 Wells, A. M., Richard A., MANNERS, CULTURE AND DRESS, Massachusetts, King, Richardson & Company Publishers, 1893

2 comments:

Mocha with Linda said...

So interesting to read and see what we've kept through the years and what we've discarded!

Teresa Slack said...

I read several of your blog posts. Interesting, informative, and more importantly, fun. Love this stuff.