Proper mourning periods in the Victorian period were as follows:
Death of husband: 30 months
Death of parent: 24 months
Death of grandparent: 9 months
Death of child: 9 months
Death of sibling: 6 months
Death of aunt/uncle: 3 months
Death of wife: 3 months
Okay, the last one sucks and is sexist... I admit!
"Deep mourning" was the first year after a husband died. Victorian widows in "deep mourning" wore black crepe dresses without trimmings. Plain black crepe veils were worn covering their faces. The veils were worn with wider hems at the beginning of the deep mourning period. Crepe, in it's finest form, is a very fragile material, tends to shred, tear easily and also black crepe will turn brown after much wear. This tattered, brown appearance lead to the phrase "widow's weeds".
After a year, the widow could discard crepe as a fabric, but still dressed in all black be it silk or satin or serge. But black, unbroken by any color. She would not wear jewels or any embellishment considered too frivolous.
After 18 months, the widow entered "half mourning" which meant she could wear black dresses trimmed with black ribbons or black lace, as well as white cuffs or a white collar. Other suitable trimmings included black embroidery, bands of black velvet, jet or black beads -- but these must be "dull" in color.
It was not suitable for a widow to go out socially during "deep mourning".
Okay, you all are wondering why am I writing this --- those who know me well, know that I have always loved the Victorian era and wrote and published a book on Victorian fashion, which I started collecting in my teenage years and am considered somewhat of an "expert" on...
But also, I am writing this because the Victorians had it right in many ways (except the widower thing, ha!). By wearing mourning dress, people actually understood what the person was going through and treated that person with respect, gentleness and care. No one would dare say such things as "get over it", "go on with your life", etc. etc.
And I do wish we had some such signal today. Just to let people know that I am in "mourning", so please be gentle and kind.
"Mourning" went out of fashion during WWI, when the president asked the nation to stop the custom as it made for "too gloomy of a home front" for returning soldiers.
Another word I love is "melancholy" so much better than "sad" or "down" or "depressed". One of my all time favorite poems, by Tennyson is this untitled sonnet:
Check every out flash, every rudder sally
Of thought and speech; speak low and give up wholly
Thy spirit to mild-minded melancholy:
This is the place. Through yonder polar valley
Below the blue-green river windeth slowly;
But in the middle of the somber valley
The crisped waters whisper musically,
And all the haunted place is dark and holy
The nightingale, with long and low preamble,
Warbled from yonder knoll of solemn larches
And in and out the woodbine's flowery arches
The summer midges wove their wanton gambol
And all the white stemmed pinewood slept above
When in this place, first, I told my love.
I just wish more people understood. I am in mourning and sometimes give up wholly to mild-minded melancholy. It's a totally normal reaction to what I've been though.
And thank you Vindi Vin for the link you left in your comment, which finally explained a question I just asked my therapist last week (she couldn't answer it): what is the difference between "pain" and "suffering"? and that article said "Pain + Resistance = Suffering".
Makes sense to me. In other words, you need to "feel it to heal it". So -- excuse me if I linger a bit in my mourning process.
Wish black crepe and black veils were still in fashion....