Colour speaks to us so much. Some shades, such as blue and yellow, have a well-documented association with calm and joy, whilst other colours can evoke specific memories in us. Why then, are our funerals, a celebration of a life well-lived, a sea of black?
The majority of European and American mourning traditions include sombre black clothing. This practice dates back to the Romans, masters of ceremony, who wore a dark toga when grieving. Over time this became a social symbol and a declaration of bereavement in Britain, a ritual popularised by Queen Victoria and her famous mourning regalia.
Yet white has also had a strong funeral presence in historical Europe, with Spanish funeral plans and French ceremonies stipulating mourners wear the symbolic colour of purity and innocence. This practice was often reserved for grieving children and unmarried women, although 20th-century Dutch Princess Wilhelmina opted for a white funeral to signify that her death was really the beginning of eternal life, according to her Christian faith. The decision got many people thinking and ‘white mourning’ has started to gain ground in the West once again.
Going Further Afield
White is the accepted colour of mourning in cultures around the world, making it a worthy mourning colour to explore in your funeral planning. In some cultures, it is reserved for certain people – for example, in indigenous Australian culture widows wear white plaster caps, which are placed on the husband’s grave at the end of the mourning period. Family members of the deceased person wear white in many East Asian nations, where Buddhist funeral traditions associate white with respect, reincarnation and rebirth.
Alternatively, you could try incorporating a brighter shade into your funeral plan. In Thailand, widows dress in a majestic purple, a colour also favoured by many Catholics as the colour of spirituality and royalty. Depending on the location, red suggests different things, representing patriotism in South Africa but happiness in China, an association which makes it forbidden at funerals. You could also contemplate gold and yellow, royal burial shades in ancient Egypt. For the Pharaohs and well-born ancients, gold was reminiscent of Ra, the sun god and king of all the deities, as well as being an imperishable and beautiful metal. For modern-day mourners, yellow is a wonderful colour to indicate the sun and general positivity, as they celebrate a life lived to the full.
A Personalised Funeral Plan
As we’ve already said, there are no rules when it comes to your funeral plan – people are beginning to rebel against the traditional sombre hues and turn up in a positive rainbow of garments. This is your opportunity to make the occasion a celebration of the colours you love, so consider asking your friends and family to wear your favourite shades – pink, green or aquamarine, the choice is yours.
On the other hand, there may be a charity, country or society which has meant a great deal to you, whether it’s a non-profit organisation that has looked after you or a sports club where you met some of your dearest friends. Consider using their colours as the theme of your funeral, whether that’s full mourning attire or a ribbon pinned to the lapel.
Our Light Inside
You can document your wishes and ideas on Our Light Inside’s online portal. These are sent to your nominees when you die, helping you to have the perfect send-off. You can get in touch to enquire about membership or ask questions by emailing email@example.com.