DEAR ABBY: In response to "Wondering in Eau Claire, Wis." (June 5), who asked about proper attire at funerals: In modern times black is generally the approved color for mourning, white caskets are still customary for children, and purple is used to designate death and mourning for royalty and many Christian groups.
However, in medieval times it was believed that black should be worn to funerals so that the spirit of the deceased couldn't recognize the family or friends and follow them home.
My opinion: Wear any color you choose, as long as you go. -- R.G.K., FUNERAL DIRECTOR, GREENVILLE, TENN.
DEAR R.G.K.: I couldn't wait to share your tidbit about the origin of the tradition of wearing black at funerals. It reminds me of another tradition from the Middle Ages -- saying "God bless you!" when someone sneezes because it was believed that when one sneezed, the soul left the body and could be "snatched" by an evil spirit. And bless my readers for sharing the choices about what they wore at the funerals of their loved ones:
DEAR ABBY: When my mother passed away a year ago, I couldn't bring myself to wear a somber color to her funeral. I wore an ivory pantsuit. Wearing a color other than black or gray helped me get through that already more than somber day. -- WENDY IN VICTORVILLE, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: My brother, Dave, often wore bright Aloha (Hawaiian) shirts. When he died at 55, we buried him in one. A few hours before his funeral, one of his daughters mentioned that she had considered wearing an Aloha shirt to the service. She almost didn't mention it for fear of offending someone. But Dave's wife, his other daughters and I all agreed -- we had to wear Aloha shirts.
We tried to get the word out, but reached only a portion of the attendees. Half the guests wore Aloha shirts. Anyone who knew my brother understood we were honoring him by breaking with tradition.
My one regret was that we didn't contact the minister. He later assured us that if we had thought to call him, he would have worn one, too. -- CRAIG C., ORLANDO, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: These days, hardly anyone wears black to funerals. I have attended five funerals over the past year or so. Three were for bikers, and their friends came dressed accordingly. Also, my religion dictates that at funerals, one should wear green or sage, as those are the colors associated with the crossing over of the spirit. -- KRISTI, ST. PETERSBURG, FLA.
DEAR ABBY: That letter brought back a vivid memory for me. My father died of lung cancer in 1987. The last time I visited him at the hospital, I wore a blue silk dress. His last words to me were, "You look so beautiful in that dress! I love you."
He passed nine days before his 61st birthday, and I wore the blue silk dress to his funeral. I still treasure it. -- "LOVE IS BLUE" IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR ABBY: When my husband died after a debilitating illness, I asked all family members to wear white to celebrate his release from a long, sad illness. Here in Alabama, many funerals are celebrations of the beginning of a new and better life. People wear clothes of many colors. Their respect and care for the family are demonstrated by their presence at the funeral. -- ROSEMARY IN MOBILE, ALA.
DEAR ABBY: After my father's funeral, I could tell you who was there, but not what one single person was wearing. Sometimes what you wear doesn't matter. The respect people show outweighs everything else. -- LINDA T., HARRISON, N.Y.