1. What is it?

Mourning is the period of grief felt after a death of a loved one.

Psychologically, the loss of important parts of identity, such as a job, power, or relationship, can also trigger mourning.

2. How is it made?

A loved one close to the character dies.The character suffers strong feelings related to the loss. This may include sadness, a loss of ambition, or a sense that life now has no meaning.
 Other issues such as nostalgia, survivor’s guilt, and questioning of faith may also occur.The grief-stricken character’s relationships with people and society changes.
The character either slowly recovers, sometimes with help from another person, or descends further into despair.

3. Examples in literature

Funeral Blues 
by W.H. Auden

Know Your Book

Title: Funeral Blues
Author: W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
Published: 1938
Language: English
Genre: Poetry
Synopsis: The poem was originally written as a satire of the over-the-top mandatory mourning of political leaders, but is now generally read as a poignant memorial. The poet says the world has ceased to hold any meaning because the deceased was everything in their life. This is expressed by saying all everyday activities can be stopped because there is no point to them, and life, any more.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Skimming, Scanning and Basic Comprehension

1. What is the poem expressing?
2. What message does the poet say the planes should write?
3. About what was the poet ‘wrong’? 
Identifying Techniques

4. What rhyme structure is used in Funeral Blues?
5. What imagery does the poet use to create the idea of solemn silence?
6. How is parallelism used in the third stanza? 
Text Analysis

7. What is the poet’s attitude to the world after this death? What specific phrases or words show this?
8. How does the poem address the idea of time? How do the past, present and future compare in the poet’s mind?
9. What is the purpose of the lists in the third stanza?
10. In what way do clauses affect the rhythm of the piece? Does this rhythm have an effect on the poem? 
Theme Exploration

11. How does the poem show mourning? What emotions and images are used to show the feeling of loss? 
Provoking Opinion

12. What is your feeling about the poem? Do you think it accurately portrays the idea of mourning?
13. Of the supposed five stages of grief in the Kübler-Ross model (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), what stage would you describe this poem as?
14. Why would people read sad or mournful literature? Does it make a difference when such literature is read – for example, after a death vs. in one’s normal free time?

In Memoriam A.H.H. 
by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Know Your Book

Title: In Memoriam A.H.H.
Author: Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Alfred Tennyson) (1809-1892)
Published: 1850
Language: English
Genre: Poetry; requiem
Synopsis: A requiem for Tennyson’s friend Arthur Hallam, the poem runs through the poet’s thoughts on loss and how death fits into the experience of life. Ideas raised include the finality of death against the cycle of life; how the belief in God promises a never-ending existence yet nature is cruel and murderous; and that whilst grief hurts, the preceding love makes it worthwhile.

Excerpt, Section 54:

Oh yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood;

That nothing walks with aimless feet;
That not one life shall be destroy’d,
Or cast as rubbish to the void,
When God hath made the pile complete;

That not a worm is cloven in vain;
That not a moth with vain desire
Is shrivell’d in a fruitless fire,
Or but subserves another’s gain.

Behold, we know not anything;
I can but trust that good shall fall
At last–far off–at last, to all,
And every winter change to spring.

So runs my dream: but what am I?
An infant crying in the night:
An infant crying for the light:
And with no language but a cry.

1. The first two lines say that people foolishly

a) believe good wins in the end
b) try to live good lives
c) respect the fate they are given
d) search for meaning in life
e) love people who will eventually die

2. The examples the poet offers all aim to show

a) the beauty of the natural world
b) cases of life being pointlessly cruel
c) shared experiences with the deceased
d) evidence that God has a plan
e) things that should have died instead of the poet’s friend

3. The fourth stanza makes the point that

a) our belief in good is based on blind faith
b) death is a time for fond memories
c) time will heal current pain
d) it is foolish to love something that may be lost
e) old age will bring answers that younger people can’t see

4. The final stanza emphasises

a) the beauty of being born and being alive
b) the heartbreak that comes with mourning
c) mankind’s reliance on the world around it
d) the true insignificant helplessness of the human condition
e) faith’s ability to supply answers at times of need

5. Both Funeral Blues and In Memoriam AHH question

a) the purpose of living
b) the existence of God
c) the ability of words to express feeling
d) what occurs after death
e) the existence of free will