Firstly, let’s get this straight. I really like wearing black. I wear it a lot, and it goes with everything. But when it comes to my own “send off” I would ask people to wear something colourful that reminds them of me and that makes them happy.
In the Western world, the wearing of black as a mark of respect crept into fashionable mourning practices in the 1870s, after Queen Victoria’s beloved Albert died in 1861, and she donned the black funeral garb which she never really took off. It was customary to mourn your nearest and dearest for two years – so you would wear black for two years. Widows, like Queen Victoria, often wore black for far longer, some even for the rest of their lives – you’ve all heard of ‘black widows’, right? It was thought that this person was showing their love and respect for their dearly departed, thus also sending out the message that they are not available to conduct another relationship as their loved one is still in their heart.
Wearing dark clothes to mark a death has been in our culture for at least 500 years – and before then, people might wear a piece of clothing that made them uncomfortable, to match their suffering, or to symbolise to others that their heart is broken.
In other cultures, wearing bright clothes to mark a death is common practice. Wearing the colours to celebrate a person’s life but also as symbolism. for example, in some cultures, wearing white at a funeral signifies purity, purple has a sacred and spiritual meaning to it and in ancient Egypt, gold was associated with the afterlife.
There is a school of thought that says wearing black at a funeral will help you mourn as it encourages solemnity, while colours encourage happy thoughts. It is entirely up to those planning their ceremony to decide on the best way to mourn or celebrate their loved one. If you feel asking mourners to wear something colourful is the best way to remember your loved one, than I say go for it. But you can inject a bit of their personality into your proceedings if you feel wearing black is more for you. you could ask people to wear a certain flower in a certain colour, or something colourful/in a certain colour along with their black funeral attire. You can also ask your celebrant to take part too. And if you have asked us to wear a certain colour or flower, we can add that as part of your loved one’s story – the significance and what it means to them.
We are always happy to respect your wishes – it’s what we do!