Funerals and Customs in the DR?

LaTeacher

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May 2, 2008
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i need some cultural help here.

i've been blessed in the 5 years i've been here not to have anyone close to me or my family pass away. my husband's (distant) grandmother died (she was 93) and we weren't able to make it to any of the "celebrations" (bad word choice?) because i was very, very pregnant and she lived in a campo only reachable by motorcycle or horse.

that said, an acquaintance of mine's husband passed away yesterday and i have no clue what i am supposed to do. the "funeral" and burial was today but i didn't know about it until too late. my understanding there is a mass every day for 9 days and then every month for a year?

she is not a close friend, but someone i respect enough that i want to share with her in this time, but have no clue what is acceptable and/or expected. in the states, we send mass cards and give money to help with costs, but i'm told that here that is not the case.

what is the proper protocol? anyone know?
 
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jalencastro

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you are right about the 9 days of mourning. in most of latin america this is called la novena and yes mass is done on a daily basis for the duration of the luto.
if you wish to send money to help with the costs you can chose to do so in private when you arrive and meet with the family. Sorry for the loss of your friend.
 
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AlterEgo

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I'm assuming you're in the DR? You may want to bring a fruit basket or small bouquet of flowers to the house. The do bury quickly there, normally no embalming is done. An announcement is made in the newspaper, often with a photo of the deceased. When my father-in-law died 6 years ago my husband, children and I flew down immediately, and they had to embalm him because they were waiting for us. It was so different from an American funeral. Casket was closed but there was a 'window' over his head and upper chest. His hat was in there next to him. I was a little taken aback at the cemetery. They placed the casket into the open spot in the family mausoleum and then a worker with a bucket of cement placed the cover stone with his name & dates into place and cemented it closed - while everyone stood there and watched. I've never seen that done here. Every anniversary of his death there is a Mass said and the entire family - close and far - and friends attend it. Some people place a notice in the paper about the Mass.
 

LaTeacher

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May 2, 2008
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i get the novena and the mass, i even get the "burial." it's what one is supposed to do if they are not very close with the family.

today was the ceremony in the funeral home and they buried him in the afternoon. now that that part is done, what does an acquaitance do to show support?

do you go to the mass? take flowers? casserole? it just is all so different than the states.

is it rude to give money to help?
how much attention is too much and how much is too little? does a phone call suffice or is presence better? i just don't know.
 

dv8

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Sep 27, 2006
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no flowers, cake and such.
go to the mass and visit the home. just sit with people, hold their hand and give them hugs. you may ask if they need any help if those folks are not well.
i have been to 2 funerals in DR and that's how it worked.
 

Hillbilly

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Jan 1, 2002
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You should go to one of the 9 day masses. After the Mass you give her a hug and say
Te acompa?o en tus sentimientos" ..

Unless you are family or compadres, nothing much is expected of you.

Now if this where a bosom buddy, you and a group of friend might make up Mass cards for the 9 dias, the month and the year....

Life and death are sort of casual, but I am sure you have noticed that.

Of course, if there is a "9 dias rezos" or prayer session, you could attend that but it is sort of for intimate people...and neighbors, with chairs out in front and food and drinks..

HB
 

Hillbilly

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Jan 1, 2002
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tflea: It is a bit...I dunno, it just came out like that...

Seems kinda profound for a hillbilly, huh? But think about life here: Driving, partying, working, playing....all, generally speaking, are casual events, not to be taken all that seriously...and death is a '24 hour over and done with' experience (intense, believe me, it is very intense), that becomes a social affair...

Thanks tflea, I think I'll keep it...?

HB
 

AlterEgo

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Of course, if there is a "9 dias rezos" or prayer session, you could attend that but it is sort of for intimate people...and neighbors, with chairs out in front and food and drinks..

HB
Well last week we heard that our neighbor in the campo died in Miami rather suddenly from diabetic shock that caused heart failure/attack; we've known him for years. His 90 yr-old mother and my 90-yr old suegra are friends. His body arrived on Wednesday, and it was at his house overnight, followed by burial at 10 am the following morning. The tables, tarps, multitude of chairs were there from 2 days before - I swear that everyone in this campo is related, it's one huge family who have lived here for many generations.

Following the burial, everyone was next door, on the property, on the road, across the street. They must have borrowed or rented every chair for miles.

The next day we brought my suegra out to our house so she could pay her respects. Still at least 100 people outside. After awhile they started playing tamboras, lots of them - the drums went on for hours and hours, it was so very creepy to me. They were chanting along with the drums. Sounded like the old movies when the white people hear drums in the jungle and know the natives are restless and they're probably going to attack soon :ermm:

In the midst of all of this going on, it was the feast of Altagracia, and the beach at the end of our road was teeming with people, cars parked everywhere and anywhere, music blaring, kids screaming. Talk about two extremes.

I told my husband I wish I had a video recorder or even a tape recorder yesterday to get those drums and chants on tape.

AE
 

dv8

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Sep 27, 2006
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i must say it always amazes me how dominicans, being so disorganized in their daily lives, manage to set up the next day funeral with all the trimmings like flowers, chairs, food and so on. it's almost like it happens all by itself...
by now i have managed three funerals and i swear that the wake pig goes on the stick as soon as the deseased gives the last breath...
 

bachata

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Aug 18, 2007
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When I was driving from STI to Cabarete doing transportation for tourist arriving in those early Jet Blue flights it was good for me to find a funeral where to stop on my way back home for a hot cup of coffee....

Anyone is welcomed at a Dominican funeral, it doesn't matter you didn't know the dead or the family.\
Just ask who is the widow and give her a hug and say te acompa?o en tus sentimientos.

JJ