Sunday, February 20, 2011


What is a moirologist? In the "Word A Day" email that has been coming my way for several years, I learned that a moirologist (moy-ROL-uh-jist) is a hired mourner. From Greek moira (fate, death) + logos (word).

As I read the email this morning, my mind traveled to Ellijay, the beautiful Georgia mountain town where my husband served as pastor immediately after graduating from Candler School of Theology, ( Emory University in Atlanta) in 1958.

The Methodist parsonage where we lived was next door to one of the two Funeral Homes in the community. My husband was asked to participate in many of the funerals in Ellijay and Gilmer County.

Ellijay, a delightful home and community to us for nearly four years, had more than it's share of accomplished and highly educated citizens. It also, as in every community had it's "town characters",

This included an older woman who was said to be a "Professional mourner." She was not a member of our church nor a resident of the town but lived "out in the countryside."

I never met the lady and do not remember her name but it was told she was one of those "town character" who attended and mourned at every funeral in Gilmer County.

My husband had seen her at funerals many times and somehow I got the picture of her as an older women dressed in black. I doubt she was ever paid for her efforts. Perhaps she was just a tender hearted woman who mourned with anyone who faced the parting and trauma of death?

Perhaps she was a lonely woman who needed the attention of being one of the mourners? Perhaps she was going through one of the five stages of grief herself? I do not know!

Back to our word "moirologist"? Has our society become so isolated from friends and church that many now need to buy a "Mother's Eulogy pack" or a Father’s Eulogy pack" for a "do it yourself " Funeral service?.