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Encyclopedia of Acadian Life:
Death

   Since there were no funeral parlors in those days, death was handled by family members.  When someone died, someone in the family (of the same gender) would wash the body and then dress it up.  It would be laid out on planks, with a small cloth over the face and a pillow supporting the head.  They body was covered with a white sheet.  A candle would be lit nearby.  If they had religious pictures, they may have been put up on the walls of the room.  When it was time to go to the church, the body was put in a homemade coffin (coffre) and carried on the shoulders of family friends, who had already dug a grave and would lower the coffin.  Family members didn't actually participate in those acts.  A wooden cross with the name, and perhaps the age and date of death, were placed at the head of the grave.  Gravesites were cared for by family members.  In some areas, they would decorate them with small white pebbles arranged in a cross surrounded by a circle.
 

Source: The Acadians of the Maritimes, Daigle, ed.

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