Rituals of Mourning

I just finished reading Joan Didion’s memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking. In 2003, Didion’s daughter fell suddenly ill with pneumonia, leading to septic shock that was eventually fatal. On December 23 of the same year, Didion’s husband of forty years died suddenly of a heart attack.

The situation described above, while doubtless tragic, would lead many lesser memoirists to descend into maudlin remembrances or bland platitudes about pain and endurance, but of course, Didion rises admirably above both, producing an intellectually rigorous survey of contemporary cultural practices surrounding mourning, death, and grieving.

Coincidentally, just before beginning The Year of Magical Thinking, I finished Freud’s Mourning and Melancholia, so the subject of mourning is on my mind. I would like to write a piece on modern mourning practices, particularly now that standard rituals like wearing black are no longer in practice.

-Summer Block
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