Posted by Vale
We use signs and symbols in our daily lives all the time. A green cross outside a shop means a chemist; a green P on a car is a new driver abroad; a twist of pink ribbon somehow signifies breast cancer. But what are our symbols of loss and mourning?
We used to have plenty. Whitby – and it’s jewellers – grew rich on them in Victorian times, but they have almost all gone now – but wouldn’t it be nice, sometimes, to be able to let people know that you are still grieving, remembering, letting go?
There are symbols out there. You can buy a mourning cross from this website here. Not for me – but maybe you like it?
In a way though, it sharpens the question for the secular mourner – where is the non-religious symbol of mourning or remembrance?
It’s a slightly tangential thought but I came across the the West African tradition of mourning robes decorated with Adinkra symbols recently.
The name Adinkra comes from a legendary King conquered by the Ashante people, who, so the stories tell, wore luxurious patterned fabrics. Adinkra also means “goodbye,” and the special cloth, printed with Andinkra symbols, was reserved for funeral garments. The symbols themselves are rich, expressive and beautiful. The selection printed on the mourning garment were supposed to describe the particular virtues and qualities of the person mourned. Here are a few:
There are more of the symbols here.
There’s a challenge in these lovely shapes and signs – what symbols can we make to mark our loss? How do we show the world that – for a while at least – there is mourning here?
In the light of Charles and Jenny’s comments here is the other funeral symbol made by the good people at Mourning Cross: