Shifting Crass Conducts of Funerals

Jul 15 , 2023
By Kidist Yidnekachew

I recently attended a funeral which gave me a chance to observe behaviour and the transformative landscape as I was not close with the woman who lost her mother.

We lived in the same area and worked together. When a family member dies at the workplace, it is customary to attend the funeral and pay respects. Colleagues gather money to help cover funeral costs but rarely comfort the grieving person, rather immersed in their own lives.

It was clear that the woman needed space to let out her emotions. But people insensitively inquired how her mother died.

Despite her sobbing and inability to respond, they kept pushing further for information explaining that they had no idea of her ailment and would have assisted with funeral arrangements had she communicated earlier.

Everyone is not expected to be on the same energy level, but it is important to read the room during these sensitive times. Their off-topic discussion about work, preceded by burst-out laughs seemed insensitive indicating that they were present for mere formalities.

Paying respect calls for genuineness and expressing condolences with a hug, pat on the shoulder, or sincerity. For someone that is not affectionate, it is possible to offer support in silence while wishing their soul rest in peace.

Tradition emphasises the significance of mourning and paying tribute to those who have passed. The grieving process is seen as a way to not only cope with the loss but also to show affection and love for the deceased.

While the first days are a time that should allow family members and loved ones to grieve taking out all their emotions, the following days are concentrated on helping them adjust to the new reality while taking their minds off of the tragedy.

There is a time to mourn, and there is a time to adjust to the new reality. Grieving is necessary for emotional healing and processing of the loss. It is important to refrain from pressuring people to be strong.

Meanwhile, the transforming landscape of managing post-funeral ceremonies and subsequent days intrigued my mind. It has certainly taken another form in metropolitan cities like Addis Abeba through the years.

Akin to the cheerful events, mourning days are also affiliated with food. I believe that it is necessary to provide some nourishment at the event, but the quality and cuisine selection should not be of priority. Serving water should suffice as the purpose is to reflect on the life of the deceased.

Catering companies have taken over what was once dominated, with neighbours and relatives joining forces to handle services. The chaotic interactions of social fabrics such as Edir that bind society through thick and thin brought a sense of having the family's back.

There is a culture of feeding the less fortunate in the name of the deceased. However, that is a practice done a month after the sad reality dawned on the family and they had time to settle.

Understanding that funerals are personal and taking the time to remember rather than feeding and small talk is a shifting reality society needs to embark upon.

PUBLISHED ON Jul 15,2023 [ VOL 24 , NO 1211]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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