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Strange Techniques for Memorializing the Dead, Past and Future


Grieving Process

Posted On: Mar 27, 2017

Strange Techniques for Memorializing the Dead, Past and Future

People do strange things to preserve the memory of a loved one or celebrate the life lost. We've always done strange things. Certain tactics and customs faded out of fashion over time, and it's likely that some of today's funeral trends will die down, as well. It will be interesting to see what future generations think of our burial and mourning customs, just as it's intriguing to look back at what people used to do. Of course, sometimes we only need to look a few months or a year into the past to see an odd memorial.

The Postmortem Photography of Victorian Times

To some, this seems morbid. To others, it's practically art. In the Victorian era, people wanted to remember their lost loved ones. As a result, it was not unusual to stage a portrait of a deceased person, or even to stand for one last family photograph. Sometimes, a carefully dressed, made up, and posed corpse was photographed alongside living brothers and sisters, a spouse, or her or his parents. It's, unfortunately, easy to pass off fake memento mori photographs, so beware if you're a collector of these old memorial pictures.

Staging a Funeral Scene

Really, memento mori photographs are still somewhat in fashion, they've just taken on a new form. In recent years, especially, the funerals and viewings of many deceased people have made their way into mainstream pop culture. You've certainly read about the dearly departed grandmother staged at a table, smoking a cigarette, dressed in her favorite outfit. There are dozens of examples of scenes such as this, which feature the departed doing something s/he loved, still looking lifelike.

Grieving in a Club

The Victorians were famous for some strange traditions, as a matter of fact, many of which involved death. For instance, in Victorian France, especially, there were entire nightclubs devoted to the act of celebrating death—a satirical notion, heightened by the fact that funeral attendees and other religious personnel typically served drinks, which were usually named for various diseases. These places did take the pain out of grieving, at least for certain cliques.

Do you think anyone in the future will find our customs strange?