The Mourner’s Dance

What We Do When People Die

There is no doubt that the death of a loved one has a profound - and unpredictable - effect on the lives of those left behind. Mourning is the price we pay for love. But how does anyone survive those first weeks, months, and even years after a death, and then eventually return to normal life?

When her daughter’s fiancé died suddenly, Katherine Ashenburg found herself drawn into the world of mourning customs. Finding little comfort in the stripped-down North American approach, she sought solace, and shaped the core of this much-praised book, by exploring the rich traditions that have sustained mourners in cultures around the world and across centuries. Intertwining anecdotes from past and present with her own story, Ashenburg uncovers the wisdom and creativity embedded in mourning rituals and their value in rebuilding those unravelled by loss. Somehow, as Ashenburg so deftly reveals, we find strength and go on living.

With a new afterword by the author.

Reviews

“The buoyant narrative is moving, exotic, outrageous… a potent, intensely human brew.”
-The Globe and Mail

“A fascinating, intelligent, and (dare I say) witty account of one of our most basic and least understood needs: to come to terms with the end of a life that we loved.”
-Alberto Manguel

“It’s likely that for years to come, the recently bereaved will feel enormous gratitude to Katherine Ashenburg and her breathtakingly beautiful, staggeringly researched book.”
-Amazon.ca