My sister has a coworker who could be a professional mourner. She says that this woman is always blubbering and going on about how sad it is that someone she knows has died. In the past week (according to my sister), she’s had an friends uncle die, a boy she “practically raised” die in a car accident, and a cousin’s husband die.
“She was a mess all week,” my sister said.
Earlier in the year, this coworker went to Colorado with a friend because her friend’s mother had died. Her excuse for going was that she “[the mother] practically raised me.” In addition, she put down her two chihuahua dogs, one of which was really sick and the other slightly sick, at the same time because the remaining dog would be too sad to go on without its companion.
Which got me thinking…
What if there were professional mourners? Someone who would go to the funerals of those unfortunate people who have no family or friends to mourn them. Someone who would mourn for a price, if you didn’t have time or money to attend a funeral, or if you didn’t have the actual feeling of sorrow.
For example, Joe’s third-cousin on his mother’s side dies of old age. Joe liked the guy, but did not have excessive grief by his passing. Joe, however, wanted to attend the funeral as a representative of his mother’s family. Joe didn’t have the money or the time off to fly to Cleveland (from Los Angeles), so he hired a professional mourner to go to the funeral.
Or, another example, a state social worker has discovered a homeless person. There is no record of his family and no friends to mourn. She calls the professional mourner to attend the funeral, because everyone should have someone care about them. Even if they’re paid to.
Perhaps, in an alternate universe, in maybe a Victorian setting, there would be a mandate where a certain amount of mourning must be done on state occasions, like the memory of a war, or the passing of the King’s dog. If you couldn’t attend, you could hire a professional mourner to do your state mandated public mourning.
These professionals would have a nickname of “wollowers” as in “Oh man, there’s another damn wollower. Who died this time?”
They’d have a calling, like a priest being called to follow God.
“What happened to your cousin?”
“She found her calling. She’s joined the church/cult/guild and become a professional mourner.”
“Oh wow. I didn’t see that coming.”
“I know. We’re thinking of disowning her.”
“But it could be advantageous. Think of the funerals you won’t have to attend.”
Evidently there actually were professional mourners. According to Wikipedia:
Professional mourning or paid mourning is a mostly historical occupation practiced in Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures and many other parts of the world. Professional mourners, also called moirologists, are compensated to lament or deliver a eulogy. Mentioned in the Bible, the occupation is widely invoked in literature, from the Ugaritic epics of early centuries BC to modern poetry. Held in high esteem in some cultures and times, the practice was vilified in others.