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 fascinatingContinue reading “Skeletons in My Life’s Closet”

Proboscis Tongues and Demonic Queefing

In examining the reasons why pregnant women and young infants have traditionally been seen as particularly vulnerable to demonic influences, it may be necessary to look at popular views concerning soul belief and young infants.  In many cases, very young children are seen as occupying a liminal status  between the world of the living andContinue reading “Proboscis Tongues and Demonic Queefing”

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 someContinue reading “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 canContinue reading “Transformative Powers through Making”

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 thoseContinue reading “Lost Souls”

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 timelessContinue reading “Perfume of the Dead”

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 theContinue reading “Murder She Crafted”

Tears Become Ideas

In some places, the ability to sing or recite ritual laments became part of a feminine portfolio of skills, along with cooking, spinning, mending and cleaning. Here, author Sarah Murray shares an adaptation from her wonderful book Making an Exit: From the Magnificent to the Macabre, How We Dignify the Dead to give us insightContinue reading “Tears Become Ideas”

Sewing Shrouds: 19th-century Burial Clothing

Chris Woodyard has always been interested in what the well-dressed corpse is wearing: a netted beadwork shroud, as worn by an Egyptian mummy; the beautiful brocades found in the royal tombs at Las Huelgas; a plain wool shroud tied at the head and foot, as modeled by John Donne in his funerary monument; or the frilled-frontContinue reading “Sewing Shrouds: 19th-century Burial Clothing”

A Family Connection

Social Historian, Sarah Hayes is the Collections and Exhibitions Manager at Newman Brothers Coffin Works in Birmingham. Discovering she had an ancestor working in the funeral trade in Birmingham over 150 years ago, and then of her daughter living on Fleet Street, just ten doors down from what was to become Newman Brothers Coffin Works is almostContinue reading “A Family Connection”

Bereavement cards just got personal

Inspired Goodbyes was created by Sophia Lucop-Leech and Helen Lawson. After experiencing their own bereavements they created a positive business making sympathy cards and gifts more personal.

The Corpse Brides

If death is most often anthropomorphised into a foreboding, grinning male does it not make sense that his companion is female? The current ‘trend’ for women in the death industry is not a trend, then, but merely an influx of women taking their rightful place back at death’s side and, once again, becoming the guardians of the dead.

Death Under Glass

The presence of a microscope in the morgue or the office of a forensic scientist seems to be a symbol to impress upon audiences the seriousness of the science being performed in that episode. But viewers are never shown “the pathologist’s view of the world”, so to speak – exactly what does the doctor see in that eyepiece and what does it mean for the case? One of the most intriguing aspects of forensic histology is the fundamental tension between the lovely images created from post-mortem specimens and the shock resulting from the realization of their source. However, the beauty of human tissue is undeniable, creating a complex interplay of light and cellular morphology in brilliant Technicolor.

Death, Sex, Religion and the Erotic Women

Dr Christina Welch explains that Europe has had a long history with Sex and Death, one intimately tied to religion. This post explores a genre of art produced during this time period that melds these themes. It examines ‘Death and the Maiden’ artworks by Germanic proto-and early-Reformist artists who highlighted the folly, futility and transience of earthly vanities, through the use of erotic death imagery that juxtaposed an eroticized woman, who stood as a symbol of life and fecundity, with a male/masculine representation of death.

Women in the Mourning

Author of The Undertaker’s Daughter, Kate Mayfield is here to take us back in time. A time when women were not public figures in the funeral industry but played important roles ‘behind the scenes’ at her father’s funeral home, Kate’s childhood home.

Death has a voice

S Elizabeth has created this beautiful playlist of women  who have constructed and composed aural memento mori exclusively for Death & the Maiden. As humans, we occupy a unique place in the saga of mortality, and these women in particular offer illuminating perspectives on the subject as it relates to the afterlife, funerals & wakes, ancestral memories, etc.