I wish our culture still had public mourning rituals. I like the idea of wearing a black arm band to signify that you are in mourning. There is something about having that public symbol to let people know you are going through something very significant that I wish I could have now. I don't know how it worked in the olden days, but it seems like it was kind of a shield, a way to let people know that you are going through something, even if you are carrying on with life at the grocery store or the dentist. If I saw someone wearing a black armband, it would give me pause and send peace their way and also make me grateful for all that I do have. It might also help in those kinda awkward situations where you see an acquaintance you haven't seen in a while. They would immediately know that the sister you last spoke of who had cancer did not live.
Mourning rituals are really important and wearing an armband would be helpful. Why did this custom go away? I'm glad I don't have to wear only black for a year and never leave the house to do fun things, because while in mourning, the gods know you need some levity! But now it seems as a culture we deal with death by pretending things are fine, putting on a brave face and getting over it. That's a load of crap. Why not wear our hearts on our sleeves a little bit? It doesn't mean we (those of us in mourning) would go on and on with our sad story to anyone who will listen (that's not my style, anyway). It would just be like having a sign that says, "handle with care" and let people know that some serious shit has gone down and you might need a little bit of space and time.
I would like that.
(President Roosevelt in December, 1941.)