The Choctaw funeral cry is the most beautiful and healing funeral ceremony I have heard of. When a death happened in a Choctaw family, the eldest male relative would go out and cut 28 sticks, corresponding to the 28 days in a lunar month, and stick them in the eaves of the deceased's house. Each morning, the relative would remove one stick and burn it in a fire, until 10 sticks remained. At that time, the relatives and friends were notified of the exact time and place of the funeral cry.

The people attending the funeral cry would show up on the day that the last stick was removed, bringing food for a feast. The family and guest would sit in circles, the immediate family in the innermost circle, the close friends and distant family in the next circle, and acquaintances in the outer circle. All would eat, and then the funeral cry would begin. The eldest male relative would begin. He would stand, and tell all of the good things that he remembered about the dead person. Only good things could be spoken, and after he finished, the rest of the family in the innermost circle would do the same. Then the people in the second circle would share their memories of the deceased, and finally the outermost circle would speak. If this went on for long, breaks would be taken to eat again. The funeral cry would go on until everyone who wanted to got to speak.

Part of the beauty of this ceremony is that it happens after family and friends have had time to deal with the immediate grief of losing someone. The memories and good things shared at the cry help the grieving to deal with the loss, and to regain some of the good feelings that the person brought to them. As only good things may be spoken at a funeral cry, it is a positive ceremony, and incredibly healing.

Unfortunately, the funeral cry ceremony is seldom held publicly anymore. Curious white people began to attend the cries, uninvited, and disrupt the ceremonies by taking pictures and causing problems with the feasts, as few knew to bring food. Over-zealous Christian missionaries condemned the ceremonies and insisted on Christian burials. Funeral cries are still held among the more traditional Choctaws, but they are held in secret to avoid problems with outsiders.

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