Category: Guest Post

This Party’s Dead

Whenever I talk about The Worst Tuesday, people recoil like I’m a coworker oversharing about a rectal exam. I get the sense I’m being violent. I watch their faces as I speak, notice them flinch and their shoulders tense, even though I only mention words like ‘bloated’ to one or two of the most genuinely curious friends. I think it’s the words ‘dead’, ‘died’, ‘body’ and ‘corpse’ that are doing it. While no one is about to say, “LANGUAGE, Erica!”, I wonder if I should soften the way I talk about it. Dull down the frankness. Or shut up about it altogether.

Read more This Party’s Dead

The Music of Mourning

Formed in 2006, Valentine Wolfe is the combined effort of Sarah Black and Braxton Ballew. They describe their latest album, The Elegiac Repose, as their music with purpose. They wanted to heal, to grieve and find an honest foundation about loss.

Read more The Music of Mourning

The Girl and the Graveyard

By Claire L. Smith The dead lay smuggled amongst their bones, Relishing the peace and deceased silence. The sky was dark and the ground a deep plum, Tinted by the blood and tears of ones once loved. A dangerous laughter pierced the silence, Breaking the peace, summoning the dead. A girl giggling in a white…

Read more The Girl and the Graveyard

My Mother

Matthew Rossi’s mother was funny, sarcastic, brilliant. She loved like fire and hated just as intensely. She wasn’t always right, but she believed it enough that he often did too. They didn’t always agree. As a young man who had no idea who he wanted to become and a whole head full of self-loathing, a trait they shared. In the end, when she was dying, she chose to let him sleep. She knew he’d call an ambulance. She knew they couldn’t afford it.

Read more My Mother

Ultimate Fantasy: Magic, Murder & Performing Femininity in The Love Witch

Melissa Pleckham explains that for thousands of years there has been no symbol of feminine power more polarizing than the witch. Societal perceptions of witchcraft have swung wildly from reverence to scorn and back again, as female healers and magicians are viewed as either benevolent sages or as cunning manipulators seeking only to castrate men, both figuratively and (quite) literally. Here she examines one of our favourite films, The Love Witch.

Read more Ultimate Fantasy: Magic, Murder & Performing Femininity in The Love Witch

Saving Face: Death, Necropolitics and the Hiroshima Maidens

Dr Becky Alexis-Martin introduces the Hiroshima Maidens. Their happiness was fundamental to state in diverting attention from the harm caused by the American attack upon Hiroshima. They were given a Western “rebirth” in the USA, their otherness neutralised by reconstructing them socially, culturally, and to some extent even physically in the image of the American woman. Colonialist discourse positioned Western fashion as liberating or superior to Asian styles.

Read more Saving Face: Death, Necropolitics and the Hiroshima Maidens

Collector, Protector & Keeper

Rebecca Reeves draws upon the Victorian era with a focus on mourning symbolism, spiritualism and superstitions. Through her “cocooning” technique, she encapsulates grief, struggle and the suffocation of loss. She shares with us some of her beautiful creations, taking us behind a veil of tears.

Read more Collector, Protector & Keeper

In The Future, We are Dead

German artist Eva Müller created this incredible graphic novel for her final year project at art school. Here she opens up about her own fear of death and the personal experiences that inspired this creation. You can support a campaign to get a copy of your very own too.

Read more In The Future, We are Dead

Feminist Death Work: A History

Dr Kami Fletcher brings the important death work nineteenth century women in the Western world to the foreground. Just as the Fox sisters spoke through the dead to break out the private sphere to the public realm, women developed expert knowledge and performed high pressure death work. A neglected part of history, a history that would rather confine women to stone statues in cemeteries.

Read more Feminist Death Work: A History

Drop My Body On The Steps Of The FDA: Death, Queer Activism & Advocacy During the HIV/AIDS Crisis

It turns up in health class and sometimes in history books, but the scope of the AIDS epidemic is far off and fuzzy. Sam Wall takes a close look at the government failings and acts of courage. Unless you read accounts by survivors or queer scholars, the full impact of the crisis is lost. The reason for this is that the textbook accounts share the total number of dead, but they fail to capture how and why the virus was able to decimate the queer community in the way it did.

Read more Drop My Body On The Steps Of The FDA: Death, Queer Activism & Advocacy During the HIV/AIDS Crisis

Breakfast, Then Death

This work of short fiction by Claire L. Smith centres on the death of a victim of domestic abuse. Her trauma so embedded, she mindlessly continues her everyday life as she dies. Please note that although this post does not contain graphic descriptions of violence, it does contain graphic descriptions of injury. 

Read more Breakfast, Then Death

The Grief Geek

Not only does Caroline Lloyd refers to Death and the Maiden as glamorous and cool (thank you Caroline!) she shares her personal and professional journey of grief. Experiences that became the motivation behind her new book: Grief Demystified. The book she wrote that she so desperately wanted when she had disenfranchised grief and had no idea that that was even a thing.

Read more The Grief Geek

Lest We Forget

Artist Sarah Perkins is here to share her beautiful series, Lest We Forget. A project that began life as My Secret London, it tells the story of lesser known London Memorials.

Read more Lest We Forget

The Wise Owl: Part II

“Barfoot’s quietly powerful vocals soar amidst the passing images with grace and poise.” One Film Fan “She is best known for the ethereal poise of her crystal singing voice. Wise Owl is an evocative song, well arranged and placed within a delicate but solidly crafted recording.The clarinet, cello and vocal soar around each other throughout…

Read more The Wise Owl: Part II

To My Father

Allison Carvalho has many questions. Questions like: Were you drunk when you did it? Did your mental illness amplify your alcoholism or was it the other way around? Where did you think you would go? Where DID you go?

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After Suicide

Following her father's suicide, Charlotte Underwood attempted to take her own life. From the depths of grief, depression and anxiety emerged a desire to challenge mental health stigma and raise awareness.

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The Luminary

The Luminary was created by Mavis Frempong. It is an environment that commemorates death and also opens up conversations about it. RESEARCH PERSONAS Based on Interviews SITE ANALYSIS I have proposed a new build to be located at Queen’s Drive, Edinburgh. I have chosen this site because it is a beautiful, serene environment that harmonises with…

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Sex & Death: Santa Muerte’s Strong LGBT Following

Enduring discrimination and even persecution at times makes the fierce, female skeleton saint especially attractive to those who’ve been ostracized, taunted or even subjected to physical violence because of their alternative sexual orientation. World leading expert on Santa Muerte, Andrew Chesnut has observed this special attraction from the outset of his research eight years ago. Introducing us…

Read more Sex & Death: Santa Muerte’s Strong LGBT Following

Rizpah, Guardian of the Dead

Host and creator of Kaddish the Podcast, Ariana Katz tells us the story of Rizpah. Appearing in 2 Samuel, first as a sexual commodity and later, as a fierce advocate for the dignity of her sons. Rizpah is the foremother of shmirah, the Jewish custom of guarding the dead between time of death and time of…

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What The Texas Fetal Remains Ruling Really Means and How You Can Take Action

Last Monday, after the Texas State Department of Health Services announced the addition of the word ‘cremation’ to their list of approved methods of disposition for the remains of an abortion or miscarriage, headlines were quick to appear suggesting a forced linkage between certain women’s health services and those of the funeral industry. Still in…

Read more What The Texas Fetal Remains Ruling Really Means and How You Can Take Action

The Privilege of a Good Death

Who is more likely to access a good death? Who is more likely to face a bad death? While tragic accidents tend to be great equalizers, we cannot make whole a death positive movement without addressing how privilege grants likelier access to a good death, and how oppression can position someone more likely to face…

Read more The Privilege of a Good Death

A Celebration of Death

Festival of Ian Smith, 28th October – 23rd December, 2017 at Edinburgh’s Summerhall is set to be an eclectic mix of art, music, performance and installation – all investigating, challenging, confronting or celebrating death. The festival explores why we often find it difficult to talk about death in our society, and how art and artists…

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The Punished Suicide

Ivan Cenzi brings a strange story of suicide to Death and the Maiden this week. One beginning with sorrow and ending in spectacle. It’s 1863 and on hearing of a young girl’s suicide, anatomist Lodovico Brunetti requests her body be brought to him for experiments. What evolves from his casting and preservation work is unexpected.…

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#BoneLifeWife Part II: The Exquisite Style of an Osteological Enchantress

It is easy to be enchanted by Regina Marie Cohn. Her exquisite style is evocative of old-time glamour; of poisoned spells and ornate chambers, as if her gowns were plucked from the boudoir of a raven-haired, underworld queen. Whether she is attending the Morbid Anatomy Gala, Death Salon, or a dark romantic fashion exhibition, Regina never…

Read more #BoneLifeWife Part II: The Exquisite Style of an Osteological Enchantress

Eden

In the Borderland, the alien presence can be felt everywhere. This week our friend and the founder of Foolish People, John Harrigan, takes us on a journey to the shores of Eden. Away from the fixed and familiar, into a state of transition. One of suffering, creativity and truth. Grief is a poison bullet. Only with…

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Little Miss Funeral

Lauren LeRoy is a funeral director from New York State. Entering mortuary school at nineteen, she had no idea what she was in for. Lauren reflects on her experiences in a male dominated industry and on why her job is so important. This beautiful dedication to her Grandfather’s memory takes us back to a snowy…

Read more Little Miss Funeral

#NowGoCheckYourBits

Sara Cutting was told she had cancer. Triple negative breast cancer to be precise. Sitting in the barber’s chair, she instructed a shocked hairdresser to shave her head. This was the beginning of the Daily Different Headgear Challenge, Sara never could have imagined how far it would go. Her journey is an inspiration, learn how Sara found empowerment in a buzz cut and continues to spread an important message for all women.

Read more #NowGoCheckYourBits

Life On Mars

There is something in the work of photographer Karen Jerzyk that cannot be put into words. The otherness of a world created from the abandoned and discarded is captured with a deep, dark softness. Each image tells us a story only our emotions can read. Karen shares her journey onward from her father’s sudden death in 2011. Her soul and life forever shifted in that period of time in a way that would truly change her outlook and her art forever.

Read more Life On Mars

Help Me Bring Them Back From The Dead

What started as googling, quickly became a visit to California and resulted in a rather sad discovery. In Hollywood, there are so many graves of long-forgotten or barely remembered stars that once shined brightly on the silver screen. This is not how these women should be remembered. Their stories should be told. Remembering them for who they were and…

Read more Help Me Bring Them Back From The Dead

Talk is cheap. Burials are not: Why only telling people what you want for your funeral is not enough

Amber Carvaly is back on Death & the Maiden today to discuss a subject very close to her heart. As one half of Undertaking LA, Amber encourages anybody and everybody to talk about death, dying and their wishes for the end of life. Although this is important (and she makes clear it absolutely is) Amber…

Read more Talk is cheap. Burials are not: Why only telling people what you want for your funeral is not enough

Of Divine Beauty & Hidden Grief

Nicholas Johnson is the artist behind Divine Excess, an online shop that sells bespoke pieces inspired by Mexican folk art and iconography. Here we find out more about the influences that inspire these intricate creations. From the saintly to the cult of Santa Muerte, Nick also shares some examples of his work whereby femininity is…

Read more Of Divine Beauty & Hidden Grief

The Wise Owl: Part I

Lewis Barfoot takes us to the darkest and most desperate days of grief. Sharing with us how her recent loss has affected both her life and her song. Her music and musical practice became driftwood for her sinking sailor. The most resilient flotation device you could imagine.

Read more The Wise Owl: Part I

#BoneLifeWife

Regina Marie Cohn left a success career in fashion to work by her husband artist Ryan Matthew Cohn’s side. Embracing her inner shadow, Regina explains how she began on this intriguing journey and found true purpose and passion amongst the specimens and oddities of their New York home. With so many exciting projects underway we…

Read more #BoneLifeWife

Leila & Mary Rachel Bryan

 Driven by a need to unravel mysteries, particularly those that require some dissection of human behavior, Jennifer Darling embarked on her latest project: And They Were. Profiling cases involving missing persons, unidentified remains, and other “cold” investigations as well as providing a means to satisfy her curiosity. For Death & the Maiden, Jennifer presents the disappearance of…

Read more Leila & Mary Rachel Bryan

The Deathtivals

For Erica Buist, The Deathtivals Project didn’t come directly out of grief. It came out of her reaction to it. From snooping in a dead man’s fridge to computer investigations, Erica found herself on a journey of extreme anxiety and agoraphobia following the loss of someone it seemed she wasn’t entitled to grieve. This project…

Read more The Deathtivals

Rachel The Film

Karen Anstee is weeks away from the filming of Rachel. A short film about the complex relationships between love, death, family and religion. As writer and director, Karen shares insight into what inspired the project as well as some of the beautiful locations the production team will be shooting at. Ultimately, Rachel is an exploration of the…

Read more Rachel The Film

Sleeping Beauty

A beautiful work of fiction for you this week from Angie McLachlan. Capturing the essences of a myriad of deaths, feelings and experiences, plucked from her 25 years serving families & caring for the dead through the sacred art and science of Embalming. Making clear this is more than just a job, Angie delves into the…

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Modern Mourning

Laurel Witting creates bespoke pieces of jewelry that pay homage to mourning practices of the past. Each piece unique, she finds influence & sometimes materials in the forgotten corners & dusty boxes of yesterday. Handcrafting modern mourning jewelry using traditional beading patterns to both reflect Victorian design & commemorate the dead. Laurel hopes that her mourning…

Read more Modern Mourning

Tea, Cake & Death

This week is all about The Big Conversation as it’s Dying Matters Awareness Week (9th – 15th of May). We learn from the Mary Poppins of Death herself, Louise Winter, that talking about death can be as easy as tea & cake. From Brooklyn to The Isle of Wight. The more we engage with death…

Read more Tea, Cake & Death

Keening & the Death Wail

S Elizabeth interviews musician Gemma Fleet of The Wharves on her project “Lost Voices” which explores vocal improvisation in folk culture. Volume 1. “Keening and the Death Wail” has roots in Fleet’s own childhood. She believes she encountered an Irish traveler funeral; an “unhindered display of grief” wherein the woman in mourning was not being hushed,…

Read more Keening & the Death Wail

Death & Video Game Development

As a video game developer, Gabby DaRienzo has always been interested in how death is represented & dealt with in games. The interactivity of video games makes them the perfect medium to explore topics like death, giving players the opportunity to participate in and explore mortality, loss, and grief directly. In this post Gabby shares…

Read more Death & Video Game Development

Stitching Mortality

Rebecca Hampton creates embroidery inspired by Victorian mourning practices and the fragility of our own mortality. Drawing influence from Post-Mortem Photography and historic funeral customs each piece becomes it’s own beautiful little Memento Mori.

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World Anthropology Day

From the moment Myeashea Alexander heard the American Association of Anthropology announce there would be a day dedicated to the celebration of anthropology she knew she wanted to celebrate through outreach. Taking a hands on approach Myeashea created a forensic anthropology lab for the kids at local Brooklyn public school, Bedford Village Elementary. Exploring the…

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The Light Witch

Photographer Courtney Brooke creates a haunting visual poetry rich in the feminine ties to nature & spirituality. Her images capture a beautifully bleak moment through stunning landscape in a dream like world. With influences such as witchcraft, the romantics, mother earth and death, Brooke explores what it is to exist in a human form.

Read more The Light Witch

The Female in Mourning Jewels

Hayden Peters, founder and creative director of Art of Mourning gives us an illustrated tour of female mourning jewellery. Exploring the mourning industry of the 16th-19th centuries we learn about different trends in design and how this reflects cultural attitudes and social norms of the time. From memento mori to locks of hair and cutting diamonds…

Read more The Female in Mourning Jewels

Rest In Pieces

To celebrate the paperback release of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses, author Bess Lovejoy is giving away a signed copy of her book. Rest in Pieces catalogs stories from the age of antiquity to today, tracing the evolution of cultural attitudes toward death and connecting the lives of the famous deceased…

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Drawn at the Tower

When the wonderful people at Art Macabre invited Death & the Maiden’s own Lucy Talbot to experience the first Drawn at the Tower, a series of events at the Tower of London after dark, how could she say no? Particularly when it would be the She Wolf of France walking into the beautiful low lit…

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Death and the Birth of Feminism 

Whether you believe the Fox sisters possessed supernatural powers or were masters of deception, one thing is for sure. What began as a rapping on the wall quickly became fame & fortune. Spiritualism was at its height & provided a platform for women to speak out. Death & the Maiden’s Sarah Chavez explains that women became…

Read more Death and the Birth of Feminism 

Death brought us together

Death is the kind of thing that sneaks up on you, even when you think you are prepared, and renders you speechless and lost—not knowing what to do next or how to act. In that situation, having a caring, knowledgeable person to sit with your loved one when you are exhausted, to help you learn…

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Life Of Pie

The colors are a deep burnt umber and it becomes increasingly brown as it spreads from the center to the tawny crispy crust that holds it all together. And when I close my eyes, I can hear my mom, beaming aloud about how proud she is that she made it, telling me the story about…

Read more Life Of Pie

Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs

Historian, Verity Holloway’s first novella Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs is about magic, makeup, crypts, and clownfish. But mostly, it’s about our obsession with keeping the dead around. Here Verity shares how this book began as a few notes and takes us back to her first encounter with the incorrupt body of Saint Spyridon in Corfu.…

Read more Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs

Deathly Maidens

Film maker Wesley Chambers shares his top five “Death and the Maiden” films with us. These are not only must see movies but also the masterpieces that influenced his latest film Ligatures. You can watch Wesley’s short film by following the link and find yourself on a seductively surreal journey with two deathly maidens.

Read more Deathly Maidens

Is Taxidermy a “Girl Thing”?

I get called a lot of things by taxidermy enthusiasts, animal-rights activists, and the media. I’m apparently an instructor, an expert, a hipster, an animal hater, a sicko, a stuffer…but one of the most puzzling things I have been called recently is a “woman taxidermist” and I get asked the same question time and time…

Read more Is Taxidermy a “Girl Thing”?

Doulas: Doing Death Differently

We are doulas of death. A birth doula provides support and guidance to the birthday mother and the brand new life. End of life doulas have forged an innovative approach to the care of the dying by putting emphasis on the importance of relationship and accompaniment. What we do is support. Practical and emotional support…

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Saying Goodbye the Alternative Way

Alternative funerals are unique to the deceased person and a tribute to the individual person rather than to a mass followed religion. Themed funerals, green and natural funerals, Gothic and Steampunk funerals, Rock ‘n’ Roll funerals, biker funerals and any other kinds of funerals which centre on the life of the person, and break with…

Read more Saying Goodbye the Alternative Way

Skeletons & Young Girls

Even today, Death and the Maiden, depicted together, have lost nothing of their morbid and unsettling charm. And they still speak to the most hidden part of our souls; on one hand reminding us of the fleeting nature of the body, but suggesting on the other hand that there’s a secret complicity between beauty and…

Read more Skeletons & Young Girls

Midwives, Layers-Out, and Lady Pole

Patricia Lundy explores the relationship between women and death by reflecting on two books. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, Caitlin Doughty’s memoir on her experience (past and current) in the death industry and Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, with specific focus on Lady Pole. In this post Patricia entertains the…

Read more Midwives, Layers-Out, and Lady Pole

Death Dialogue in the City

Founder of The Parlor, Emerita Colon is all about launching mortality awareness is Chicago. Her own positive experience of a funeral “gotten right” in 2005 begged the question, why aren’t all funerals like this?  Working in the world of death midwifery allows Emerita to contribute to a more community-direct, spiritual, hands and heart-oriented model of…

Read more Death Dialogue in the City

Excavation & Emotion

I have been asking archaeologists how they go about their work as professionals and people as part of my PhD research in which I am exploring what impact emotion has on the practice of UK mortuary archaeology. I have interviewed and worked alongside field, forensic, academic, student and museum archaeologists, as well as osteologists and…

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Recording the Diseased & the Deceased: A Brief Look at the work of a Medical Photographer

Anni Skilton chose to pursue a career photographing the medically curious, the diseased and the deceased. Here she shares her experiences in various hospital departments, up close and personal capturing the incredible. An inevitable part of Anni’s job involves working with those at end-of-life as well as taking photographs postmortem.

Read more Recording the Diseased & the Deceased: A Brief Look at the work of a Medical Photographer

Fears, Hopes & Dreams

Grief and loss are a natural part of life, but we can never estimate the impact it will have on our day to day lives, it walks with us every day. When people truly disrupt our lives in both positive and negative ways they are never forgotten, they grow with us and shape us. I…

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Skeletons in My Life’s Closet

Jelena Bekvalac is a Curator of Human Osteology at the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology, Museum of London. As a life course becoming a museum curator and working with human skeletal remains was not one that she carefully planned. From exciting opportunities in London to excavations in Jordan and Prague Jelena takes us on a journey down her fascinating…

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The Passing Diaries

With a tearful embrace and our sobs of grief echoing throughout the arrival terminal, I fully realized the profound nature of our visit. Thirty minutes later we were at my mothers bedside.. her frail body illuminated by a single bulb above her head. The room was so quiet, the air still in anticipation of some…

Read more The Passing Diaries

Transformative Powers through Making

How exactly did Yuli Somme go from making colourful hand-made felt tea cosies, felted seamless jackets and hats, and the occasional wall hanging to soft coffins? In this beautiful account of how creative direction can change rather unexpectedly we learn that the physical act of creation can release emotion, that from sorrow something truly life affirming can…

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Lost Souls

This week features one of Death & the Maiden’s favourite shops. Samantha Lyn owner of Funereal Ephemera collects postmortem photographs, memorial cards, funeral photographs and cemetery photographs. They’re forgotten, only to be revealed generations later, to modern eyes with a modern sense of death and mourning. A piece of history lost and found again. Samantha sees those…

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Perfume of the Dead

S. Elizabeth discusses the scent of death. Perfumes, oils, and other fragrances played a key role in the process of mummifying a body for burial, as well as denoting what status the person held in life. Scents of loss, grief, passage, and remembrance -perfumers and artistic noses have certainly attempted to create  fragrances based around these timeless…

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Murder She Crafted

Dolly Stolze introduces Frances Glessner Lee, a pop culture inspiration who many believe was the inspiration for Jessica Fletcher, the crime-solving mystery novel author in Murder She Wrote. Lee’s Nutshell Studies also inspired an episode of CSI where miniature crime scenes were left behind by a serial killer as clues. Lee is known as the…

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