A Year in Fashion: 1882
1882 American Etiquette Book
Chapter XXXII: Funerals
INVITATION TO A FUNERAL
It is customary in cities to give notice of death and announcement of funeral through the newspaper, but for fear it will not reach all in time, invitations are sent to personal and family friends of the deceased.
Private invitations are usually printed on fine small note paper with a heavy black border, and in such form as the following:
It is a breach of good manners not to accept an invitation to a funeral when one is sent.
It is customary to trust the details of the arrangements for a funeral to some relative or friend of the family; or, if there be none such, it can be safely left with the undertaker. It is prudent to name a limit for the expenses of the funeral, and the means of the family should of course govern this. Pomp and display should always be avoided. The lesson of death is too solemn to be made the occasion of mere show.
THE HOUSE OF MOURNING
Upon entering the house of mourning the hat should be removed, and all loud talking or confusion avoided. All differences and quarrels should be forgotten and enemies who meet at a funeral should treat each other with respect and dignity. No calls of condolence should be made upon the bereaved family while the dead remains in the house, and members of the family may be excused from receiving any but their most intimate friends at that time. The bell knob or door handle is draped with black crape, with a black ribbon tied on, if the deceased is married or advanced in years, and with a white ribbon if young or unmarried.
If the services are held at the house, some near friend or relative will receive the guests. The immediate members of the family and near relatives should take a final view of the corpse just before the arrival of the guests, and should not make their appearance again until about time for the services to commence. The clergyman in taking his position should accommodate himself to the hearing of all, if possible, but especially to the family and near relatives, who will probably be in a room to themselves. In such case he should stand in the doorway. The guests will have taken a last look at the corpse before seating themselves, and at the conclusion of the services the coffin lid is closed, and the remains are borne to the hearse. The custom of opening the coffin at church, unless the person is one of distinguished prominence, is fast falling into disuse.
The pall-bearers, usually six, but sometimes eight in number, are generally chosen from the intimate acquaintances of the deceased, and of nearly the same age. If they walk to the cemetery, they take their position in equal numbers on either side of the hearse.
ORDER OF THE PROCESSION
The carriages containing the clergymen and pall-bearers precede the hearse, immediately followed by the carriages of the nearest relatives, more distant relatives and friends, respectively. When societies or masonic bodies take part in the procession they precede the hearse. The horse of a deceased mounted military officer, fully caparisoned and draped in mourning, will be led immediately after the hearse. As the mourners pass out to enter the carriages, the guests stand with uncovered heads. No salutations are given or received. The person who officiates as master of ceremonies assists the mourners to enter and alight from the carriages. At the cemetery the clergyman or priest precedes the coffin.
The decorations for the coffin are usually flowers, arranged in a beautiful wreath for a child or young person, and a cross for a married person. The flowers are mostly white. Friends may send floral devices as a mark of esteem. These should be sent in time for decorative purposes.
CALLS UPON THE BEREAVED FAMILY
Friends may call upon the bereaved family in a week after burial and acquaintances within a month. It is the custom for friends to wear no bright colors when making their calls of condolence. Short notes of condolence may be sent as an expression of sympathy. Formal notes of condolence are no longer sent.
HABILIMENTS OF MOURNING
Custom prescribes some indication of one’s bereavement in their dress. They who choose to adopt this custom may do so with perfect propriety. The widow dresses in mourning for life, or until a subsequent marriage. For the loss of a brother or sister or son or daughter, six months or a year, as they may prefer.
Website Bibliographical Information:American Etiquette and Rules of Politeness. Illinois: Chicago, Rand, McNally & Co. Publishing, 1882, pp. 345-351.
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