British memorial practices
Wearing black clothes is one way of grieving the loss of loved one. In the UK, this custom started in the Elizabethan era, but became more known when Queen Victoria lost her husband Prince Albert to a chronic disease. At the time, widows are expected to wear mourning clothes for two years.
Currently, black clothes are still worn during funerals but they can be paired with other colours like white, brown, navy blue, or other subdued colours. There may be instances when families would specify a particular colour to wear in a funeral. This is often the case in children’s funerals. They would wear clothes in the deceased child’s favorite colour.
The traditional practice to inform relatives and friends of the death of a particular person is through the obituary in a local or national newspaper. This has been going on for numerous generations, and older death notices are even written as poems when the deceased is a member of aristocracy or other distinguished families. Things started to change in the 20th century when deceased people in the “working class” station are also included in obituaries.
In the modern age, social media sites are used to inform family members and friends of the death of a loved one. The social media giant Facebook even allows an online memorial, in which a specific person is given control over the deceased’s account to make it into an online memorial. An online memorial is a virtual space where the bereaved can pay their respects to a deceased loved one by placing funeral information, touching messages, photos, and videos of the deceased with family members and friends. This is done not only in the UK, but also across the globe.
During the 1800s to 1900s, a huge feast is organized after the funeral. This was meant to be a celebration of the life of a loved one, although this was done less frequently during the war years. Selected parts in the UK gather in pubs to celebrate “happy funerals”, and are becoming a trend among younger people. Upbeat songs are played and ashes are turned into a fireworks display as well.
Britons were accustomed to wearing mourning jewellery, especially during the times of Queen Victoria. Ashes, hair, and even skeletons are placed inside lockets, rings, and fob watches. These may be accompanied with designs like miniature paintings.