Mourning Clothes: A New Retro Clothing Trend?

One of the best things about having very talented writing colleagues and friends is that when I’m taking a few days of from posting original content here, I can always find great material to which to link. As I continue to take this week to work on other projects, here’s another gem for you to ponder and share.

Jana Riess, my stellar book editor and author of the funny, thoughtful memoir Flunking Sainthood, writes in the Huffington Post today about why she wishes we still wore mourning clothes. Another friend recently said she wished we practiced the Jewish ritual of kaddish, which invites mourning family members to retreat from their regular routines and take on new ones in recognition of their altered state as someone who has just lost husband, wife, mother, father, brother, sister, son, daughter. We do seem to have a problem in this culture not only with accepting the inevitability of death, but also with allowing those who mourn to do so in a way that doesn’t require them to either share their personal “stuff” with random strangers or pretend that life has gone on just the same as always. Jana’s mom died recently, and she wishes for mourning clothes because it would signal to everyone that she is living with fresh grief, without her having to explain it all the time.

About Ellen Painter Dollar

Ellen Painter Dollar is a writer focusing on faith, parenting, family, disability, and ethics. She is the author of No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Faith, and Parenthood in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Westminster John Knox, 2012). Visit her web site at for more on her writing and speaking, and to sign up for a (very) occasional email newsletter.