Comm u 2014


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Comm u 2014

  1. 1. The Art of the American Cemetery and Beyond Class 1 The American Funeral Minda Powers-Douglas CommUniversity 2014
  2. 2. The American Funeral
  3. 3. American Views of Death
  4. 4. Why Do We Have Funerals?
  5. 5. Funerals Fill Important Needs • The dignified and respectful care of the person • A tribute to his or her life • Makes us acknowledge the death, remember the life and activate support during the naturally difficult time • Helps survivors face the reality of death (part of the grieving process) • Allow them to express their grief
  6. 6. The 6 Needs of Mourning • Acknowledge the reality of death • Move toward the pain of the loss • Continue the relationship with the person who died through memory • Develop new self-identity • Search for meaning • Continue to receive support from others
  7. 7. Saying Good-bye Etta James’ funeral
  8. 8. Saying Good-bye
  9. 9. Contemporary Views on Death “In the first half of the 20th century, society lost sight of the importance of rituals associated with death and dying and of the need for appropriate death education.” - S.M. O’Gorman “Death and Dying in Contemporary Society” paper
  10. 10. Contemporary Views on Death “Consequently patients and professionals alike found themselves unable to cope with the inevitability of death.” - S.M. O’Gorman “Death and Dying in Contemporary Society” paper
  11. 11. Contemporary Views on Death “Modern America appears to be preoccupied with the preservation of youth and beauty. Society seems content to cling to the illusion that youth—and life—can last forever.” - Jeffrey A. Johnson Denial: The American Way of Death
  12. 12. Hidden in Plain Sight “A major factor contributing to the American view of death is the fact that it has been hidden from us.” - Jeffrey A. Johnson Denial: The American Way of Death
  13. 13. The New Tradition Death has been taken out of our hands and placed in the care of professionals. It’s been regulated, standardized and sanitized.
  14. 14. Out of the Home and Into … a Home
  15. 15. The Earliest Americans Of the first 102 Pilgrims who landed at Plymouth in 1620, half died during the first winter.
  16. 16. Reasons for Death in Early America • Lack of medical knowledge • Epidemics (thousands would die in a few months) – Boston: smallpox killed 1/5 of the population 1677-78 – Diptheria, influenza, measles, pneumonia, scarlet fever • In healthy areas, 1 in 10 children died by the age of 1 (in other areas, 3 in 10) • Other reasons: bacterial stomach infections, intestinal afflictions, contaminated water and food, neglect … and eventually wars
  17. 17. Death in the 1700s “Eighteenth-century Americans generally were guided in life by the fear of going to hell and the hope of reaching heaven.” Reviving Rites of Passage in America
  18. 18. Early Americans “They were surrounded by death. Without modern medicine, the average lifespan was half of what it is today, and hospitals were still disease-infested holes where people were sent to be forgotten.” - Stephanie Carroll
  19. 19. For Future Celebration In the 1700s, it was common for a family to purchase a cask of wine upon the birth of a child. It would be put aside for the child’s wedding or funeral, whichever came first.
  20. 20. The Victorian Era
  21. 21. Victorian Views on Death Victorians were so “obsessed” with death that “they had their own death culture.” - Stephanie Carroll
  22. 22. Death in the 1800s “When death occurred in the late 1800s, no one contacted a funeral home, no calls were made to morticians to handle the burial arrangements …because there were no funeral homes or funeral directors.”
  23. 23. Victorian Views on Death “They had dramatic displays and etiquette for coping with death and rituals to prevent people from being buried alive.” - Stephanie Carroll
  24. 24. Death in the 1800s “Up until the early 19th century, the task of preparing the dead for burial was seen as a simple, dignified family affair.”
  25. 25. Victorian Home Funerals
  26. 26. When a Death Occurred • The household went into deep mourning • Windows were closed • Clocks were stopped • Mirrors covered
  27. 27. A Family Affair • Prior to the Civil War, people died at home surrounded by their loved ones • Family members washed and dressed the body in a shroud or winding sheet • A family member or neighbor would build a simple pine coffin • The body would remain in the home for one to three days with family and friends keeping roundthe-clock vigil
  28. 28. Death and Children • Children were not sheltered from the deaths around them • They learned the rituals and meanings
  29. 29. Rituals • It was scandalous if rituals were broken • Funeral processions • Invitations • Mementos • Feasts and wine
  30. 30. The Original Funeral Parlor
  31. 31. Image by H.T. Biel of Terre Haute, Ind.
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  33. 33. Cooling Boards • Large ice blocks would be placed beneath the coffin, with smaller pieces around the body • A draping would hide the pan underneath • Flowers would also disguise the board as well as mask any odors
  34. 34. Cooling Boards Museum of Funeral Customs
  35. 35. Cooling Boards • A family might have a cooling board used for generations • Supported by chairs or saw horses (if it had no attached legs) PaigePaige Blog
  36. 36. Mourning Traditions • Mourning clothes • Mourning jewelry • Postmortem photography • Lavish funerals
  37. 37. Mourning Clothes for Women • Deep mourning – I year and 1 day • Black bodice, skirt, long veil • Silk, wool, cotton • Women were also not supposed to leave the home except for church or visiting relatives
  38. 38. Mourning Clothes for Women • Half mourning – 6 months to a year • Dark colors, often purple or dark green trimmed in black • Upper class: silk, wool
  39. 39. Mourning Clothes for Men • • • • Dark suit Black arm band Black band around hat Black gloves
  40. 40. Mourning Jewelry • Dates back to at least the 15th century • Shakespeare left money in his will so his friends could purchase memorial rings • Brass, silver, gold, jet • Rings, pendants, broaches and others
  41. 41. Mourning Jewelry • A minor gemstone • A “mineraloid” (has an organic origin, derived from decaying wood under extreme pressure) • Fashionable during Queen Victoria’s reign
  42. 42. Mourning Gloves It was customary in colonial New England to send a pair of gloves to friends and relatives to invite them to funerals.
  43. 43. Mourning Gloves Andrew Eliot, minister of Boston’s North Church, saved the gloves that people sent him. In 32 years, he collected 3,000 pairs.
  44. 44. Funeral Invitations • Became common in the 17th century (Georgian Era) • “Admission tickets” • Limited seating in churches and for funeral feasts • Skulls, scythes and hourglasses
  45. 45. “You are defired to Accompany the Corps of … to the Parifh Church of … on Wednesday the 25th of June 1712 by Nine of the Clock in the Evening precifely: And bring this Ticket with you.”
  46. 46. 19th Century Invitations • Small, embossed memorial cards • Sent out after the funeral as keepsakes • Classical figures, urns, columns • Mounted on black frock or velvet • Created to be framed
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  50. 50. Victorian Funeral Mutes • Professional male mourners • Symbolic protectors of the dead • European custom from 1600-1914
  51. 51. Victorian Funeral Mutes • Stand vigil outside the door of the deceased • Accompany the coffin • Wear dark clothes, look solemn, carry a long stick (wand) covered in black crepe, top hats and gloves
  52. 52. Gov. William Botetourt - 1770 • • • • Williamsburg, Va. Street lined with militia Bells tolled 6 mutes, 8 pallbearers
  53. 53. Funeral Processions
  54. 54. Funeral Processions
  55. 55. Funeral Processions
  56. 56. Funeral Processions
  57. 57. The Return of Home Funerals • The green movement • The desire for more control over a loved one’s remains • High cost of funerals
  58. 58. The Return of Home Funerals • Only 8 states require a funeral director’s involvement (IL, not IA) • Embalming is not required in every state (not IL, IA for communicable diseases) • Casket burials are not required by law (not IL or IA)
  59. 59. The Return of Home Funerals In Iowa, there are no laws that specifically permit or prohibit burial on your own land, but check with local zoning. Family burial grounds are permitted in Illinois and should be registered with the Comptroller’s office.
  60. 60. Home Funerals “Home funerals were common until the start of the 20th century. Now they are making a comeback, fueled by environmental concerns, the faltering economy and surging interest in holistic practices and home hospice care.” “For In-home Funerals, A 21st Century Revival” - article
  61. 61. Home Funerals “It’s about saying good-bye. I didn’t want some stranger doing this. So I did it myself, and it’s emblazoned on my memory as an important part of my grieving.” - Linda Bergh, on the home funeral for her husband “For In-home Funerals, A 21st Century Revival” - article
  62. 62. Learn More Funeral Consumers Alliance (
  63. 63. Next week: Superstitions Spirit photography Funeral advertising Peculiar coffins @cemeteryminda