Colin Dickey reviews two new books on how Americans mourn the loss of loved ones:
Death, after all, is messy, and so too is the way we respond. We do not comfortably assume the posture of mourning; we lash out, laugh inappropriately, meander radically between emotions, struggle to hold it all together, sometimes hold it together all too well, creak and babble and moan and weep and everything in between. It is this inappropriateness, this failure to conform to expected postures of mourning, that has become particularly unwelcome in our current moment.
The belief behind the ceremony is that when young children die they become angels and go straight to heaven. Therefore, these deaths are not an occasion for sadness, as many might assume, but a cause for a goodbye celebration. … This may seem shocking or disrespectful to people accustomed to sadness and distress-based mourning, but in its own community it is the single most respectful way of saying goodbye to a recently blessed angel.