Frazer Blog

A community’s role in mourning

by | Aug 10, 2016 | For Families

Two friends walking arm in arm

When WWII Veteran Serina Vine passed away, she had no known living relatives. Only about four people were expected to attend the service.

Instead, a community came together to honor Serina’s life. Thanks to a social media campaign, 200 people came to the funeral of the formerly homeless veteran.

It wasn’t the first time this has happened either.

  • When Harold Percival — a WWII veteran with the British RAF — passed away, his obituary stated that he had no close family to attend his funeral. The story got picked up by social media, and more than 500 people turned up to attend the funeral service.
  • Before Roscoe Cassidy passed away at 107, he told his family that no one would attend his funeral because he had outlived all his friends. After his death, the family was shocked when — thanks to the internet — several dozen people showed up at his funeral.
  • In Minneapolis, hundreds in the community — from religious and political leaders to school teachers — showed up to attend the funerals of five young children who lost their lives in a fire.

These stories resonate with us because they show the power community has when mourning a death. Nobody should mourn alone and the lives of the deceased deserve to be honored.

A community coming together to mourn certainly isn’t new. As humans, we grieve together. It’s part of who we are.

Grieving Together Is Part of Our Past

Even early societies found comfort in community during a death. Around 50,000 years ago, Neanderthals conducted early rituals to mourn their dead — including the first burials and the use of mourning flowers.

Ancient Greeks and Romans had elaborate communal mourning rituals that included feasts and professional mourners. During the Victorian era, mourning was done in yearlong stages and had an emphasis on public mourning.

Grieving Together Is Part of Our Future

Today it’s no different. When news breaks of a death, the community comes together. In America, we offer flowers or maybe a hot casserole.

But new ways of collective mourning are occurring. We mourn together on social media. We mourn together by donating to crowdfunding campaigns.

The methods that a community uses to mourn may differ, but the message stays the same. We are in this together. Whether it’s through flowers, casseroles, or crowdfunding — communities come to the aid of families.

Just try Googling ‘community mourning’. What do you see? There are thousands of results and examples of different communities coming together to mourn deaths of all kinds — diseases, accidents, tragedies. It’s inspiring to see these communities united in the face of loss.

Mourning collectively serves a powerful purpose. Nobody should have to face a loss alone.

What are some ways your community has come together? Share in the comments below!


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