Do you remember the movies you've seen over time that involve Gypsies? Gypsies are often portrayed as thieving, sneaky, liars and backstabbers who will sell their children if it will make them some money. There might be some truth to this since I don't know how they live on a day to day basis but what I do know is how they handle their dead.
Once again I have to admit that I can't say how Gypsies handle all of the deaths in their community because I was only involved with one funeral, and he was a prominent Gypsy. I'm not about to say he was king or leader or anything like that but he was a Gypsy that was known all over the country. When we first got the call that this man had died in one of our hospitals and his family wanted us to help them I have to admit I was a little hesitant if not worried about handling the call. I had a preconception based on all that I had seen and heard.
When his wife and children came in to see me they were accompanied by what I thought was a relative who turned out to be an advisor of sorts. All of the typical information was gathered by me so that I could file a death certificate but when it came to the actual funeral planning there was no advice needed from me. The day, time and place had all been determined prior to their meeting with me. In fact all of the details had been worked out. They were there to simply select merchandise and to tell me what I was to do. They selected the best merchandise I had to offer and the advisor promptly pulled out a wad of cash to pay for it.
The visitation lasted days and people from all over the country were there to pay respects. They cooked in our parking lot and I can't begin to imagine the number of people they fed. Every night before the last of them would leave they literally had a crew that would go around and clean up leaving the place as clean as they found it; maybe cleaner. From what I gathered, his widow was going to be taken care of very nicely. His burial didn't take place locally and we weren't involved in that aspect but from what I was told it was large but went as smooth as silk. Again, the advisor whipping out the cash to foot the bill.
That week I was reminded over and over again that preconceptions are usually wrong. These were a group of people with different cultural ways yet they still respected their deceased loved one like any other group I had ever come in contact with. They hurt like the rest of us and are just people like you and me.