Frazer Blog

Very Superstitious: 9 beliefs about death and funerals

by | Aug 29, 2016 | For Families

A black and white photo of a man

Death is a difficult topic to grasp. Perhaps that’s why so many cultures have different traditions and superstitions when it comes to dealing with death.

For many, the different superstitions act as a coping mechanism and help us understand death better. Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular ones:


While you might think the sound of thunder is an ominous sign, it’s actually the opposite. Thunder at a funeral is believed to be the sound of the departed soul being accepted into heaven.

Hold your Breath

When passing a cemetery, you’re going to want to take a deep breath and hold it in. The classic superstition is that you might accidentally inhale the spirit of a recently deceased person.

It’s an urban legend that we’ve been telling ourselves for thousands of years. In fact, some believe the breath-holding idea predates writing. Early humans believed that the final exhalation was the soul leaving the body, and they would cover their mouths when around the deceased.

Put Away the Mirrors

When someone has recently passed away, it’s important to cover up the mirrors in the house. Some believe that if you were first to see the reflection of the deceased, it meant death would come for you next. Others believed that when someone died, mirrors acted as a portal to the “other side” and demons could enter through an uncovered mirror.

The practice also has roots in religion. The Jewish faith covers mirrors as a way to focus on mourning the dead and not your own appearance.

Beware of Birds

Birds symbolize a lot, but they almost always involve death. They can be seen as an omen of impending death — especially if they crash into your window. Or they are there to help guide a soul from one world to the next.

Birds of all varieties, from robins to owls, are believed to be bearers of bad news.

Stop the Clock

When someone dies, it’s important to make sure the clock stops ticking. Like other superstitions, there’s a lot of different explanations behind it. One belief is that if you let time continue to pass, then the soul of the departed will remain and haunt the house.

Another belief is that it allows the departed to move into the next world at their own pace, not having to worry about time.

The simplest explanation? It was meant to record the time of death.

Coins on the Eyes

The Greeks were the ones who popularized this tradition. The coins were placed over the deceased’s eyes to pay the toll for the ferryman who was responsible for transporting the soul across the river Styx.

But the tradition was continued long after. One of the more famous examples was Abraham Lincoln, whose eyes were covered by two silver half dollars.

Pregnant Women and Cemeteries

It’s another long-held belief that if you’re pregnant, you should avoid the cemetery. It’s believed to be bad luck, and some believe the baby could become possessed.

Feet First

When removing the deceased from a home, the body should go feet first. As old traditions tell it, it’s to prevent the deceased from looking into the house and trying to make others follow the deceased to the “other world.” Other superstitions say it’s so the deceased can’t see where they are going, and therefore won’t be able to return and haunt the living.

Funeral Procession

Whatever you do, don’t count the number of cars in a funeral procession. It’s believed to be bad luck. Some believe doing so will reveal the number of years you have left to live, or will take a year off your life for each car you count.

What are some other superstitions you’ve heard about death? Share your stories with us in the comments below!


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