How Did War Interrupt Traditional Notions of Mourning and Bereavement! Essay examples

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How did war interrupt traditional notions of mourning and bereavement? By 1914, medicine had advanced to such a stage that most children outlived their parents; World War 1 changed all that. For the first time in decades, children were predeceasing their parents in greater numbers than ever before. The pink telegram provided no respite for the loved ones of the dead. It had no information about the last moments before death and the familiarity associated with death, knowing the date, time and conditions, was denied the families of the dead. The Australian government had decided not to send the bodies of the dead back home, so the rituals that usually relied on having a body, such as burial and a funeral were unable to be completed. Without a grave, the families of the dead were unable to participate in the normal grieving process of visiting the dead, in fact, many families didn’t know where their dead were buried, and even if they did, the prohibitive expense of overseas travel prevented them from visiting the grave. This led to the bereaved having their doubts about the dead. Questions of whether they were really dead and how they died; whether or not they had been properly buried and if their graves were being tended were on the minds of the bereaved. In order to put their minds to rest, many at the front who knew the dead contacted the bereaved, such as the letter from George Elliott to Maria Keat about the death of her son Alick at the front and the letter to Mr Asbury from Sister Jean Todd, which are in the readings for this week. These letters were the bereaved’s only way of knowing how their loved ones truly died. These letters answered many of the questions that the bereaved had. The other thing that was a comfort to the bereaved was when they received the personal effects of the dead. They generally only received the effects that were on them when they died, but these were some small comfort to the bereaved. Before the war, it was the norm for women to wear mourning black when someone died, in the style of Queen Victoria. This changed during World War 1, when it became the middle-class women who kept up this tradition. Mourning black was often in short supply during the war, as production and trade of fabric and dye in Europe was affected. For example, English manufacturers of mourning black relied on German aniline dye that was extracted from tar found in the Rhine Valley. In Australia, alternative dyes such as sulphur were suggested for use and tips on how to dye fabric black economically featured in columns throughout the war. Supplies of fabric were affected because the mills and looms in Europe and Australia were occupied with producing khaki for the soldiers, and this affected the quantity and quality of other fabrics available in Australia. In country towns, there was no need for the women to wear mourning black because everybody knew whose family had suffered the loss of a loved one. A year after Gallipoli, the woman in mourning black was a target for public criticism. The figure of the woman in mourning black also appeared in numerous propaganda posters, such as in ‘The Greater Patriot’.
What purpose did the letters from the front serve, how did people react to the telegrams with their simple notification of time, date and place and why were families so anxious to know where a loved one was buried and how he had died? The pink telegram that the families of the dead received was dreaded by the recipients. Between 1915 and the Armistice, an average of 1100 telegrams a week were delivered across Australia relating to battle casualties - the dead, wounded and gassed. Clergymen witnessed the effect of war on families as they delivered the telegrams to the door. The sight of a priest on the street was enough to send households into a wave of panic and fear. This task became a difficult one for the clergy to perform. Most of the people they carried the message of death to were strangers, sharing the news…