The Book of Filial Duty, by Ivan Chen, , at sacred-texts.com
MOURNING FOR ONE'S PARENTS
Confucius said: "When a filial son loses his parent, he, of course, cannot help crying piteously. He cannot feel happy when he hears music. He will have no appetite for food, however tempting a savoury. He will greet no visitor, have no regard for elegance of speech, and will put on a mourning-dress instead of a beautiful one. All these tell us the extent of his sorrow for his lost
parent. What is meant by the saying that he must try to eat something after three days from the death of his parent, though he has no appetite for it? It teaches us that although we have to show great sorrow for the dead, yet we must not sacrifice ourselves on their account, and that we must not carry self-mortification so far as to destroy our life. This is the doctrine laid down by good men of old. That mourning only extends to the period of three years shows that there is a limit for our sorrow.
"For the corpse we make a coffin and some clothes. We set forth the sacrificial vessels, and at the sight of them grief breaks forth afresh. The women beat their breasts, the men stamp their feet, and with weeping and wailing escort the coffin to its resting-place. For its burial we buy a well-drained ground. In memory of our deceased parent we build a shrine. For the purpose of showing our remembrance we offer sacrifices every spring and autumn.
"When our parents are alive, we should treat them with love and respect. When they are dead, we should have sorrow for them. By doing so we shall have performed the duty of mankind, and have done what ought to be done by a filial son, and by the living to the dead.