Artist Sarah Gay-O’Neill is here to explain that it’s very easy to normalize pain when people in authoritative positions, like doctors, tell you everything is fine and ‘normal’…but is it normal to feel the drag of a rusty pitchfork clawing at your insides?
Romany Reagan has been walking in Abney Park Cemetery for a total of nine years, often alone. As a walking practitioner dedicated to encouraging new perspectives within cemetery space, a recent personal revelation called for self reflection and a much wider contemplation.
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?
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”
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.
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”
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”
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.
Death & the Maiden’s co-founder, Sarah Chavez, delves into the reasons underlying the current interest many women seem to have with death, and the rise of the Death Positive movement. Exploring a question persistently asked and rooted at the very core of Death & the Maiden: Why are so many women currently interested in death andContinue reading “Death & the Maidens: Why Women Are Working With Death”
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”
Women and death, particularly the role women are currently playing in the death positive movement and as death professionals made frequent headlines this year. Here’s a recap of what 2015 had to offer from our co-founder Sarah Troop.
“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”
In 1912 an American “Lady Undertaker” addresses the question of why women are especially suited to work with the dead.
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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.
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.
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.