Sunrise: Public versus private mourning

By David Coy


There are real cultural differences in the way various groups conduct burial observances.  There is also cultural uniqueness in the way groups mourn.  A greater contrast may exist in the way people express their sorrow publicly verses privately.  This is an interesting look into the cultural or environmental conditioning of people.  

Some people are very private in the way they deal with death or loss.  For a long time I wondered why people did not reach out for support from others.  It puzzled me as to this silence or absence of willingness for assistance from others.  Now at least in part I understand it involves our traditions and our comfort level involved in what we were taught in precept and in practice.  

One person described it as a competition between previous generation which emigrated from their homeland to this country and the newer generation that was born here.  The older generation was more apt to be more self-reliant and this viewed by them as strength and dealing appropriately with a family private matter.  Whereas the younger generation may see reaching out to others and sharing their heartache as a healthy outlet and expression. 

While I do not think one way is wrong and the other right, I do think it is perfect harmony to allow both to coexist.  Both may work if we as individuals and as a family system are willing to exercise flexibility by making minor adjustments to a formally rigid pattern of mourning.  One family even went so far as  taking turns sitting with the deceased so that the differing expressions of mourning by inter-generations may be observed.   Creativity and flexibility can build harmony.  This is Sunrise.