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Superstitions around a death at home

April 7, 2018 was the death date of my father-in -law. As a death doula and previously having witnessed many deaths in my own/extended family, it never ceases to amaze me of the superstitions that people still follow post death. I did some quick research to find out if this was a wide-spread phenomenon and found a few articles (see sources) that confirm that these practices are not confined to just my in-laws who did all 5 of the following practices.

After a death, windows were closed so the deceased’s soul could not fly out. Today, there are many who break with tradition and open a window so the soul can be free. (1) This is often a common practice at a hospital .

Another superstition associated with covering mirrors is that the first to see their reflection in the mirror is the next to die. (1)

Clocks were to be stopped at the time of the death. (1)

When the deceased was carried out of the house, it was always feet first. This was done to keep the deceased from looking into the house and getting another family member to join him. [2] As a former hospital staff volunteer I’ve also seen other hospital staff transporting the deceased on stretchers feet first following a death too.

Turning all family pictures over so that the spirit of the loved one who had died could not possess any of the living family members. (3)

As you are reading this blog, do any death-related superstitions come to mind? With your current death literacy level, have these superstitions been abolished as practices? Will they become relics of the past and not handed down to the next generation or are they still firm beliefs?

In conclusion, and as a death doula, my hope is, with further death literacy, superstitions will one day be a thing of the past.


1) Superstitions About Death Why treat the dead the way we do? Posted August 28, 2020

3) Superstitions

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