Making a Mourner: The Life, Love and Grief of Courtney Lane

Hairwork Artist, Courtney Lane explains the Victorian tradition of sentimental hairwork and her lifelong fascination with it. It’s just as easy to chalk it up to a series of peculiar happenstances in her life that led her here, but neither of these explanations tells the whole story.

Art is Not About Pretty Things

Artist Sara Lucas challenges us to see the transience in beauty. Three years on from her breast cancer diagnosis she reflects on the moment her priorities changed. A few fashion magazines and marker pens later she felt alive. After all, we’re all going to die anyway, pretty or not!

Nothingness, Acceptance, Resurrection: Creating a Second Life

By Mia-Jane Harris My work delves into the curious, fascinatingly odd and morbidly beautiful. I make intriguing juxtapositions between the gorgeous and the macabre, aiming to intrigue the viewer and pull them in to my world with strange objects and morbid curios to manipulate their emotions on the subject of mortality – life, death & resurrection.Continue reading “Nothingness, Acceptance, Resurrection: Creating a Second Life”

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.

Tubercular Venus: When the Beauty Standard was Dying

If society’s beauty standard dictates a ‘proper’ woman should have pale skin and wear a crinoline that makes it near impossible for her walk through a doorway, chances are, that is a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home. So what does it say about a culture when the height of beauty is to be slowly dying of a horrific illness?

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 usContinue reading “Sex & Death: Santa Muerte’s Strong LGBT Following”

Bluebeard & the Final Girl: Feminist Retellings of Perrault’s Classic

Sonya Vatomsky is here to examine the myth of Bluebeard, Perrault’s text as a canonical work, is in dire need of retelling. Culturally, Bluebeard has found itself linked more to temptation/knowledge narratives like the Garden of Eden and Pandora’s Box than to narratives of heroic escape from monstrous kings and ogres. This in itself isContinue reading “Bluebeard & the Final Girl: Feminist Retellings of Perrault’s Classic”

On Death, Patriarchy & the Anti-Choice Movement

Death-phobia pervades many a political and social movement, but few have perfected the manipulation of it quite as adeptly as the “pro-life movement.” Their rhetoric invokes death at almost every turn. Aside from the most blatant messaging which explicitly likens abortion to murder, they also invoke death-phobia in the way they legislate abortion. Caroline Reilly is here to tell us more.
 

Dead Good Gifts 2016

It’s that time of year. Some of us will be sitting back with a smug sense of achievement, whilst others pretending they have plenty of time. Here at Death and the Maiden we have complied our annual list of wondrous deathly fem gifts. There should be plenty of inspiration for your last minute dash andContinue reading “Dead Good Gifts 2016”

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 ofContinue reading “Rizpah, Guardian of the Dead”

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 inContinue reading “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 faceContinue reading “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 artistsContinue reading “A Celebration of Death”

Poison Panic: Arsenic Deaths in 1840s Essex

Helen Barrell examines the lives of three apparently ordinary women: Sarah Chesham, Hannah Southgate, and Mary May. 1840s Essex became notorious as a place where women stalked the lanes looking for their next victim to poison with arsenic, though much of the reported horror remains unfounded.

Strengthen Your Sense of Smell While Contemplating Your Doom

We live in a culture that rejects scent the same way that it denies the reality of death. Nuri McBride is here to explain that perfume is olfactive art, like visual arts and music it has the power to move, soothe and inspire people. Nuri is creator of ‘Scent the Scene’ an exercise in perfumery, meditationContinue reading “Strengthen Your Sense of Smell While Contemplating Your Doom”

An Intimate Evening With Death Herself

Douglass Truth woke up after 3 days and didn’t remember anything of the time, but it was like he had been taken somewhere and given something to bring back. The journey from here Douglass found himself on was unexpected to say the very least. One of change, discovery and realization. Tonight we meet Dorothy and learn thatContinue reading “An Intimate Evening With Death Herself”

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 withContinue reading “Eden”

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 snowyContinue reading “Little Miss Funeral”

A Better Understanding of Death

Last Thursday Death & the Maiden’s Lucy Talbot attended the Good Funeral Awards, as we had been nominated for the “Most Significant Contribution to the Understanding of Death” award 2016. Here Sarah and Lucy (the Maidens) reflect on the values at the core of their mission and introduce to you the other nominees in theContinue reading “A Better Understanding of Death”

#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.

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.

Sweet Fanny Adams

On this day 149 years ago, eight year old Fanny Adams was brutally murdered by Frederick Baker, a 29 year old solicitor’s clerk. Her grave still stands in Alton Cemetery, adorned lovingly with teddies, tea lights and flowers. Perhaps her name is familiar to you. Maybe you have heard the phrase “Sweet Fanny Adams” or “Sweet FA”, you may even use it. So how is it then, that this murdered child’s name has come to mean ‘nothing’ at all?

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 andContinue reading “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) AmberContinue reading “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 isContinue reading “Of Divine Beauty & Hidden Grief”

7 Imaginative But Most Peculiar Novels About Death

Writer, blogger and self proclaimed word-nerd Harriet Allner, presents the first in a series of special posts for Death & the Maiden that explore death in literature. This week’s novels take various questions about human life and death, exploring them in interesting, challenging ways. Examining how we construct horrors and hopes around dying, how we use story toContinue reading “7 Imaginative But Most Peculiar Novels About Death”

Amy Winehouse, Patron Saint of Camden

Today marks the fifth anniversary of Amy Winehouse’s death. In tribute, Death & the Maidens’ own Lucy Talbot reflects on first hearing the news and celebrates Amy’s legacy by examining the impact her passing had on the place she loved most. Gone but never forgotten. We love you Amy.

Silent Sisters: Caring for the dead in gendered religious space

Nuri McBride is a Metaheret, which means washing and ritually preparing the dead in the Jewish traditions, as well as assisting in funeral preparation and bereavement. As a member of  a Chevras you provide kosher body preparation, funeral services, bereavement support, and palliative care, free of charge as a community service. With women outnumbering men in ChevrasContinue reading “Silent Sisters: Caring for the dead in gendered religious space”

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.

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 ofContinue reading “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 projectContinue reading “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 theContinue reading “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 theContinue reading “Sleeping Beauty”

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 mourningContinue reading “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 deathContinue reading “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,Continue reading “Keening & the Death Wail”

Death Becomes Her: Marilyn Monroe’s Posthumous Career

Ruth Penfold-Mounce tells us how it can pay (literally) to be a celebrity in death. Companies may choose the immortalised over the high maintenance to be the face of their brand. Marilyn Monroe is a shining example of this. She has her own perfume line, appears on all kinds of products & has even appearedContinue reading “Death Becomes Her: Marilyn Monroe’s Posthumous Career”

The Crime Museum Uncovered

Yesterday, after six months this long awaited exhibition at the Museum of London came to an end. With plans for New Scotland Yard to close the future of the Metropolitan Police’s infamously known “Black Museum” is uncertain. This carefully curated exhibition allowed the public to experience a selection of the items found inside. Many stillContinue reading “The Crime Museum Uncovered”

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.

Shrouds or Lingerie? Traditional Female Burial Garments

Patricia Lundy explores the relationship between death & the feminine regularly on her beautiful blog Somthng Eldritch. Through exploration of literature and Victorian history Patricia delves into the mourning rituals of a bygone era. In this post sexual suggestion and the male gaze is contemplated by visiting the works of two amazing authors. Kate MayfieldContinue reading “Shrouds or Lingerie? Traditional Female Burial Garments”

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.

On The Street With Saint Death In Tepito, Mexico

Dr Andrew Chesnut is author of the only book on Saint Death in both Mexico & the US. Here he shares the experience of attending The Santa Muerte rosary service held in Tepito, Mexico City’s most notorious barrio. This is the signature public ritual of the burgeoning cult of the skeleton saint. Accompanied by talentedContinue reading “On The Street With Saint Death In Tepito, Mexico”

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 deceasedContinue reading “Rest In Pieces”

To Be, Or Not To Be A Mortician?

Whether it has been your lifelong desire. Your recently discovered calling. Or just something you came across this morning on Buzzfeed, you are all probably wondering one thing. Just how the heck do I go about becoming a mortician? Well, the wonderful Amber Carvaly of Undertaking LA is here to tell you.

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 litContinue reading “Drawn at the Tower”

“I think I’d like to change into a sunflower most of all”

Death & the Maiden’s co-founder Lucy Talbot sees Harold & Maude as the ultimate death positive film. Originally released in 1971, the film was a box office flop. Only in the 1980s did it begin to profit and build a cult following. The lessons that Countess Mathilda Chardin has for young Harold Chasen will change hisContinue reading ““I think I’d like to change into a sunflower most of all””

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 becameContinue reading “Death and the Birth of Feminism “

Widows and Virgins: The Curse of Being a Single Woman

Contrary to many death rituals I’ve read about previously, the widow bore the burden of “exaggerated observance of mourning customs” not out of respect for her deceased husband, but so that she did not become “infected” by the dead and his ghost, for it was the widow who was “especially liable to death infections.” One of these mourning customs,Continue reading “Widows and Virgins: The Curse of Being a Single Woman”

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 learnContinue reading “Death brought us together”

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 aboutContinue reading “Life Of Pie”

Dead Good Gifts 2015

It’s the eve of December and the countdown is officially on. It’s time to start thinking about Christmas gifts to avoid the last minute dash we all know and loath. If you want to shop independent then you need to start getting those orders in. Here at Death & the Maiden we have decided to helpContinue reading “Dead Good Gifts 2015”

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.Continue reading “Beauty Secrets of The Martyrs”

Monsters

“Be home when the street lights come on!” Was a common directive during many of our childhoods, as we anxiously ran out into the world to play. However, in my neighborhood and for many of us who lived out our childhoods on the East Side of Los Angeles that directive also came with a sinisterContinue reading “Monsters”

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.

Living Out Questions of Death

It was sudden, unexpected. The naked bleakness of a dead woman – my mother – in her bathtub still haunts me; well it surely would. It is a memory that has the quality and starkness that gets etched into one. There are good memories of her death too – that she was picked up byContinue reading “Living Out Questions of Death”

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 timeContinue reading “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 supportContinue reading “Doulas: Doing Death Differently”

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 withContinue reading “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 andContinue reading “Skeletons & Young Girls”

Natural Burial Grounds & Beyond

How much space is left?  Why don’t we bury keen golfers in the rough or under the fairway, followers of the turf on the edge of race courses, football fans under the pitch? How much new woodland do we need? The more rural and stunning the landscape, the more local people do not want it altered.Continue reading “Natural Burial Grounds & Beyond”

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 theContinue reading “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 ofContinue reading “Death Dialogue in the City”

The Ascent of Female Funeral Celebrants

I find myself wondering what this line of work is like for all of the other women who choose to walk this path? How do I take the complexities and subtle communication skills that I have honed, and use and embody as a funeral celebrant, and express them to others in such a way thatContinue reading “The Ascent of Female Funeral Celebrants”

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 andContinue reading “Excavation & Emotion”

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.

Bringing Franz Fieldler Back to Life

It’s a strangely sweet and innocent romance that is portrayed between them. Is the woman kneeling at the skeleton’s feet pleading with him, or in loving adoration? Are those boney arms of death tightly wrapped around the nude maiden’s flesh done so in a passionate embrace of lust and longing, or aggressive entrapment? Who isContinue reading “Bringing Franz Fieldler Back to Life”

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. IContinue reading “Fears, Hopes & Dreams”

Female Professional Embalmer, 1900

Miss Katie Smith, daughter of the late Gran W. Smith, the only lady embalmer in the South, has made a long and successful study of the subject of embalming, and today she is recognized as one of the most proficient practicing that art. There has been a growing demand for her services recently, her reputationContinue reading “Female Professional Embalmer, 1900”

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 Winter of Our Lives

Death & the Maidens’ own Lucy Talbot talks with Dr Monica Williams-Murphy about her role as Emergency Medicine Physician, the experiences that led her to write the wonderful It’s OK to Die and travel across America educating and advocating for a better approach to death and dying. Explaining why we all need to prepare for theContinue reading “The Winter of Our Lives”

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”

The Final Girl

The last girl standing has been debated by horror fans and academics alike. We can track her evolution through the main stream of horror but her story existed long before the 1970s. For every final girl we find a fallen woman. Looking back at Victorian fiction we find that sex equaled death long before masked serial killers stalked and brutally murdered teenagers.

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.