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”

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.

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.

199 Cemeteries To See Before You Die

Following the release of Loren Rhoads new book, 199 Cemeteries to see before you Die.

The Monster Inside Me

By Caroline Reilly Since I was old enough to go out on my own, my mother has been talking to me about Ted Bundy. In high school, when we had off campus privileges starting in our freshman year, she explained to my 14-year-old self about the serial killer who was good looking, and charming, andContinue reading “The Monster Inside Me”

Almost Heaven

Lucy Coleman Talbot interviews director Carol Salter about her new film. A beautifully crafted exploration of life death and love, described as a “vibrant, human story” by The Hollywood Reporter, it follows 17 year old Ying Ling, who is training to become a mortician in one of China’s largest funeral homes.

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 throughoutContinue reading “The Wise Owl: Part II”

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”

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.

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”

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.

#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 weContinue reading “#BoneLifeWife”

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”

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”

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

Death & the Maiden’s own Sarah Chavez (Troop) shares the horrifying story of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in Manhattan, New York City on March 25, 1911. An entire nation grieved over the 148 deaths that occurred that day, so easily preventable. Their collective outrage changed U.S. labor laws and led to the adoption of fireContinue reading “The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire”

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 theContinue reading “World Anthropology Day”

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”

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 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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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”

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.

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.