This chapter provides the historical background to the cultural practices of
bereavement and the cultures of grief that were dominant in Britain during
the Second World War. It traces British ‘cultures of death’ from the
elaborate funerals of mid 19th century Britain to the end of the Great War.
By this point, expectation of bereavement had moved from the often
elaborate, formal rituals of the mid 19th century to the restrained funerary
practice and bereavement rituals that dominated the mid 20th century. The
Great War, it argues, strengthened existing patterns of growing restraint
and simplicity in funerary and bereavement practice, and shaped the ways
that people could, or could not, give voice to grief in public.