Victorian Mourning Essay

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Victorian Mourning was referred to by many as the “cult of death.” This type of mourning existed as early as 1800, but it was popularized by Queen Victoria in 1861 after the death of Prince Albert (“Victorian Days: Victorian Death and Mourning”). Queen Victoria mourned for her husband until she died, and most of England mourned with her for the whole 40 years (Mitchel 163). If one did not follow mourning customs to a tee, it was seen as an enormous sign of disrespect, and they ran the risk of being ostracized. While Victorians did not fear death, they did fear not being properly mourned (Flanders 378). Most mourning customs were based on primitive superstition, but even as the world advanced, the traditions stuck with families. Although there are some slight similarities between current mourning customs and Victorian mourning customs, Victorian mourning customs were radically different than ours today.
The Victorians had a precise view of the “perfect death” that was similar to societies current view of a good death. Most deaths occurred at home because hospitals would not admit extremely sick or dying patients if they knew medical care couldn’t help (Mitchel 160). The “perfect death” allowed a person to fade into death in the comfort of their own home, surrounded by their loved ones (Cedar Hill Cemetery). A dying person would be visited by all family and friends so they could say goodbye and offer advice for the future. Death was not feared by the Victorians (Cedar Hill Cemetery). This idea parallels most people’s current views of a good death; an unexpected death is feared by most people now as much as it was then. Once the “perfect death” occurred, families kept the body in their home before it was buried.
Unlike modern ...

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...ends who helped plan the funeral (“The Hour of Mourning”).
Even though some don’t realize the distinctiveness of Victorian mourning customs, they were extremely unique. Mourning could last from two years to the rest of your life. Men’s mourning was much less harsh, and they weren’t expected to conform perfectly, yet all women, regardless of social class, were. Mourning clothing was one of the most important aspects of mourning. And it was seen as “the last token of respect and affection which [one] could pay the dead” (“The Hour of Mourning”). Warehouses were even created to keep up with new mourning fashion. Some might consider different kinds of Memento Mori creepy, but at the time it was a prevalent way to memorialize their loved ones. Some might find the so called “cult of death” disturbing, but it was a superstitious society’s way of honoring the dead.

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