They Are Paid For Uncried Tears

Professional Mourners can grieve for you if..

Ajay Sharma
4 min readNov 28, 2021


A person trained in the funeral etiquettes can mourn the death of a stranger. They can lament and deliver a eulogy or help comfort the grieving family. They are professional mourners or moirologist. Sometimes they perform openly, and at times, they act discreetly.

Professional mourning is mostly a gendered occupation, often performed by women. It bears the burden of uncried tears of the men. Sometimes, these women claw their faces and tear at their clothing. The belief is that women can express grief easily.

Having a crowd of mourners at one’s funeral has been a sign of honor, wealth and social status. People believe more mourners mean the deceased was more respected in society. Also, mourning in an exaggerated degree, is a sign of respect in some cultures.

The primary role of professional mourners is to cry quietly or loudly, sometimes tearing clothes and hair with stress. This helps the family to prepare for the expression of grief. For theatrical performance, they have to undergo training and practice.

India- Grieving undermines social status and masculinity in some communities and is considered inappropriate for higher caste women. That’s why there is a custom in Rajasthan in which professional low caste women mourners or Rudaalis express the grief on the death.

Still from Hindi film Rudaali

Dressed in a black sari, praising the deceased, Rudaalis cry loudly, beat their breasts, dance spasmodically and roll on the ground. This continues for up to 12 days after the death. However, Rudaali practice is becoming less common because more people are choosing intimate funerals.

Egypt- People in ancient Egypt hired professional women mourners. While grieving, these women wailed loudly, beating breasts, smearing the body with dirt and messy hairs. Inscriptions on the tombs show women next to graves holding their bodies in ways that show sorrow.



Ajay Sharma

Reader, Writer | Media Professional | Interested in Philosophy, History, Death Studies |