Once upon a time in Ireland..........the story goes that once someone passed away, a window was opened to allow the spirit of the deceased to leave the house.
Storytelling is very much a part of old Ireland and death in fairytales are intermittently linked. According to these tales no-one must stand or block the path to the window as this may prevent the spirit from leaving and bring misfortune to the person who does so.
In the olden days in Ireland a body was washed and clothed in white. If the deceased was a male he would have be freshly shaven. A rosary is then wrapped around the hands and a cross placed around the neck depending on the religion of the deceased. Candles are placed at the head and foot of the coffin and remain lit while the deceased was still present in the house. Family members or close friends would stay with the deceased at all times taking it in shifts to watch over the departed. All clocks in the house were stopped at the time the person died and all mirrors covered or turned to face the wall as a mark of respect. Also, traditionally all the curtains closed.
'Keening' is also an old Irish Tradition. This is when women would cry and wail over the deceased. This took place after the body had been laid out, if the women started ‘keening’ before the body was ‘laid-out’ it would invoke evil spirits.