Paying homage to the dead also meant honoring the loved one with a traditional period of mourning. Victorian etiquette dictated that the accepted period of mourning depended upon one's relationship to the dearly departed.
Stages of mourning would vary according to social class and geographic location.The customary length for a widow to mourn her husband would be 2 1/2 years. Slowly the widow would go through the mourning stages, from first mourning, second mourning, ordinary mourning then half mourning. Gradually the restrictions that came along with mourning, both socially and clothingwise, would slowly ease up. Some women would actually opt to spend the rest of their life in mourning.
The customary mourning period of a widower for his wife was approximately three months, giving the male gender far more mobility to go about the business of living.
The recommended mourning length for a mother for her child would be one year. The first mourning would last six months, followed by ordinary and regular mourning, both three months in length. A child in mourning for a parent would customarily last one year also.
Mourning periods for other relations varied. A woman would mourn a grandparent or sibling for six months, an aunt or uncle and niece or nephew for three months. There was also a customary six month period of mourning for a friend if the woman was remembered with an inheritance from the deceased.
Many Mid-Victorian etiquette books went into great detail about the stages of mourning and the social importance of visibly showing outward grief. Following the proper stages of mourning proved good character and breeding to those living in Mid-Victorian America.