Women, Pregnancy, and Funeral Superstitions

I spend a large portion of my time researching various aspects of funerals and funeral pre-planning. Not surprising given my job, after all. What did surprise me today was while I was scrounging the internet looking for topics to write on regarding women and funerals, I found an AMAZING number of message boards asking if it was ok for a pregnant woman to go to a funeral. Apparently, this is one pregnancy superstition I managed to avoid hearing with either one of my pregnancies!

The answer, Yes, a pregnant woman can indeed go to a funeral or burial. As with just about any other event, it is up to the mom-to-be. However, there are many religions, or perhaps more accurately, old wives tales, that discourage a pregnant woman from going to a funeral. Why? Basically...superstition.

Jewish Law does not forbid pregnant women from attending a funeral or visiting a cemetery however, many Jews believe pregnant women should not visit the cemetery due to a belief in the 'evil eye (ayin hara). The basic premise of the evil eye: if we are happy, then evil spirits will harm us to change us from happy to unhappy. People who believe in the evil eye will avoid "tempting the evil eye."

Many Asian, South American and Central American belief systems also hold to the belief that a woman should not attend a funeral while pregnant.

Even if you don't consider yourself a superstitious person, you can expect to receive an in-depth education in superstitions and old wives' tales from the moment you become visibly pregnant. Complete strangers will give you unsolicited advice, and it will seem that everyone you meet has a "foolproof" method of predicting your baby's gender. I can't count the number of times I've been told (over the course of two pregnancies) not to put my arms over my head at work or sit cross-legged "because it will wrap the cord around the baby's neck." okay, then. If you say so...

Every culture has its own superstitions about pregnancy. For example:

* In Guyana, it is said that a baby would be born cross-eyed if its mother wore high heels while pregnant

* In China, harelips were thought to be caused by the pregnant mother eating rabbit meat; in Mexico, it could have been because she was out and about under a full moon.

* Just by staring at the moon, viewing a corpse, or walking in a cemetery, it's said that a mother can doom her or her unborn child to miscarriage, mental problems, or an early death

Of course, not all superstitions warn of such serious consequences; superstitions about predicting a baby's gender are still common today and often find their way into baby shower games.

Remember, in a few generations, people will probably be laughing at many of our beliefs, so try to relax and let yourself laugh about all of those silly superstitions. If a funeral arises and you are pregnant, go if you would like to. If you choose not to go based on superstition, that is your decision. Do what feels right to you. Don't let the belief of others dictate whether or not you attend the funeral.

20 May 2010

By Funeral Home Resource Team