Protocol for hand-digging a MO grave

“If there’s anything we can do, just let us know.” These words are often spoken to those who have recently lost a loved one. 

They are usually sincere. We keep them in our prayers. Often take some food. For the most part, there is little one can actively do to shoulder the burden of the loss.

That was not always the case. Years back, women helped clean up and dress the corpse. Daily brought fresh flowers; this largely to offset the smell.  

Family took turns sitting up with the dead. In the house. Partly in order for someone to be there if the perceived death was actually a coma and the person might arise. Hence the term “wake.”

And the men gathered to hand-dig the grave. Started at sunrise, with the womenfolk bringing a meal around noon.  

Burials were in the afternoon or evening. Words spoke over the dearly departed by a circuit preacher or a member of the family.

Now there’s protocol for such endeavors, and in the absence of time to get another book out, this column will include the highlights.  

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