In the 1800's death was a common event in the lives of families. Disease, caused by lack of sterile practices, lack of vitamins, nutrition, antibiotics and proper food storage, along with poor medical care and difficult childbirth, claimed many lives of children and women. It was not uncommon for a woman in labor to have arranged for someone to take care of her husband and children should she not live through the birthing process.
In the Victorian era, many did not fear death as much as they feared not being mourned properly. Like all areas of the properly brought up citizen, rules applied not only to social gatherings, but also death, funerals and the grief process. Notice the mourning clothing the women are wearing.
(photo from Institutie for Regional Studies, NDSU, Fargo)
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