Monday, 1 April 2013

A new career beckons.....professional sobber

                        Professional mourners are available from

Apparently, there is a move to provide professional mourners at funerals, just so that it looks as if the deceased and his/her surviving family members were/are much loved folk, greatly missed by those around them.

There's nothing new in this concept. Dickens spoke of young Oliver Twist as having the right sort of sorrowful face and harrowed expression that made him a fit choice to lead the funeral cortege - a sort of professional orphan.

And, didn't the ancient Greeks have professional mourners to lead the ekphora or funeral procession? (Well, "there's posh" as they allegedly say in Wales).

An undertaker in Essex started the current trend and has found that Hull is the epicentre of demand. Hull? I ask you?

Twelve funerals have taken place in Hull, attended by these 'mourners' and you could say that it's been a tearaway success (oh, please).

So much so that it has prompted me to design a short course for those wishing to take up this profession and gain a National Vocational Qualification in Lachrymosology or, weeping if you prefer.

Here's a course outline:

Module 1 - Crying

This is a two day unit requiring delegates to undertake a series of crying modes.
These include: Gentle sniffing, heavy nose blowing, profuse tears down cheeks (known as the poke digit in eye technique), wailing, shrieking, blubbing, rolling on the ground and teeth gnashing.
Jewish delegates may opt for the garment rending session also.

Module 2 - Manifestations of grief

Half a day is dedicated to soot smearing and to rubbing ashes through hair. More advanced students (NVQ Level 1.5) may elect for the 'Iranian Massage' - that is, self flagellation with a rusty metal chain.
In the afternoon there will be sessions involving coffin clinging and banging head against any hard surface.

Module 3 - Processing and graveside routines

Special emphasis is placed on handkerchief style (wiping eyes, blowing nose and general waving around). Delegates will also get to experience the ancient 'mourner's walk', a sort of aimless ramble involving frequent falling on knees to give a solemn air of a profound sense of loss.
At the graveside there will be special 'holding back from the abyss' sessions whereby mourners appear to attempt to accompany the coffin into the grave. Earth eating is an optional extra.

There is also a module for orthodox Catholics.
It may take anything from one to two hours.

It's called, a Requiem Mass.


  1. I believe every word of it.

  2. Richard, Do you have a session for North Koreans? Or do you think they probably don't really need one?

  3. When next down in Wales i must sample a few pints of the Rev.James,it seems to fire the imagination !

  4. It used to be traditional in Southern Italy, with rich people paying poor women to cry at funerals.
    Very much frowned upon by those who didn't need the money.
    I suspect this was a way to help the poor in a way that doesn't seem giving alms directly, besides being a demonstration of the social status of the deceased and his family. No one was ever expected to believe the theatre had anything authentic in it.


  5. Rod, let me know when and I'll buy you a pint! Richard

  6. Oh I thought these two chaps had come to bury the Church of England but Cameron got there before them.

  7. Gervase, methinks Mr Cameron might be buried soon.

  8. I didn't intend to be mean about the North Koreans. It's only that picture vivid in my minds eye of the passing of the dictator Kim Jong Ill and the literally thousands of N. Koreans wailing and wailing without a tear. But these poor souls didn't get paid.

  9. Anon @ 10.21am - no, I did not think that. I am currently reading Escape from Camp 14 and feel nothing but pity for any soul living under that regime.Richard