Home  |  Top News  |  Most Popular  |  Video  |  Multimedia  |  News Feeds  |  Feedback
  Medicine  |  Nature & Earth  |  Biology  |  Technology & Engineering  |  Space & Planetary  |  Psychology  |  Physics & Chemistry  |  Economics  |  Archaeology
Top > Biology > Virtual Tombstones, Tattoo Tributes And… >
Virtual Tombstones, Tattoo Tributes And Mourning T-shirts Are Growing in Popularity

Published: September 30, 2013.
By Baylor University
http://www.baylor.edu

Blending cremated remains into tattoos, creating "virtual tombstones" online and displaying "Rest in Peace" car decals or T-shirts are unconventional ways people increasingly are using to honor the dead this century, a Baylor University researcher says.

"With 'do-it-yourself' memorials, people are creating their own ways of memorializing the dead, particularly in a more secularized society," said Candi Cann, Ph.D., an assistant professor of religion in Baylor's Honors College. "Some people are alienated from some common traditions such as a long funeral Mass. Cohesive rituals may not be part of their lives."

She made a presentation on "bodiless" memorials at the recent international conference, "Death, Dying and Disposal," of the Association for the Study of Death and Society.

In research based on interviews with the bereaved, Cann found that such memorials are "the opposite of what occurs in the religious realm with martyrs and saints and with relics," Cann said. "Martyrs and saints bring us closer to holiness and to God through their bodies and narratives of their suffering."

But modern-day bodiless memorials are increasingly "returning" the dead to us through visual or virtual "replacements" that are more personal than a memorial in a cemetery or in nature.

Wearing a tattoo as a tribute is not unlike customs of Victorian England or the Civil War era, when people sometimes wore a lock of a loved one's hair or a photo in a brooch or watch chain, Cann said.

"People simply want to carry the dead with them," she said. "They see a tattoo as forever."

Generally, it's young people who get tattoos to express grief, Cann said. "Often, they choose one of their grandparents that died, because that's their first loss."

Some go so far as to blend cremated remains with tattoo pigment, although medical experts advise against the practice, and many tattoo artists refuse to do them to avoid legal complications.

These days, rather than black apparel traditionally worn at funerals, some people opt for a "mourning T-shirt" that may be the deceased person's favorite color. It may display dates of birth and death, an image, and an affectionate nickname and be worn long after a funeral.

"A T-shirt also is a way for people who aren't family or allowed time off from work to say, 'I am grieving,'" Cann said.

Car decals, as well as shoe polish or liquid chalk on vehicle windows, are being used to pay tribute to the dead.

While it has long been common to leave teddy bears or erect wooden crosses at the scene of a tragedy, people are becoming more imaginative and personal. Cann found a snow-white "ghost bike," festooned with a maroon Christmas garland and placed at the site of a bicycle accident.

But "the bike is a clean, pristine version - not the one that was mangled," Cann said.

Besides funeral home websites that allow "virtual visitors" to sign guest books, online mourning has evolved to include Facebook's "R.I.P." permanent memorials, as well virtual tombstones, which allow people to use their smartphones to scan headstone codes and launch websites with an interactive life story for those who visit the grave in person or online.

While spontaneous public memorials with flowers and teddy bears spring up after such tragedies as the Boston Marathon bombings, "those spaces are becoming smaller in geography and time," with people differing over how much is enough, Cann said.

But when such public memorials are removed, Cann said, they almost invariably return in "the virtual realm . . . The dead will return to haunt us if we do not acknowledge them."



Translate this page: Chinese French German Italian Japanese Korean Portuguese Russian Spanish


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ScienceNewsline.
Related »

People 
12/17/13 
Overspent This Christmas? Blame the Ostrich Problem!
By University of Sheffield
It's the festive season, time for eating, drinking and being merry, and any thoughts of reaching goals like losing weight or keeping on top of finances go out of …
People 
10/8/11 
Strong Attachment to Local Communities Made Oil Spill More Stressful for Many Coastal Residents
By Louisiana State University
A major concern related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010 was the impact on people living in coastal areas. News reports provided anecdotal evidence that those living …
Currency 
11/14/12 
'Dirty Money' Affects Spending Habits, New Study Finds
By University of Guelph
Looks matter – even when it comes to money. A new study co-authored by a University of Guelph professor has found that currency's physical appearance dramatically affects consumer …
Organizational 
7/6/12 
Individuals Cooperate According to Their Emotional State And Their Prior Experiences
By Carlos III University of Madrid
In addition to previous studies, this research is also based on an experiment carried out by the Institute for Biocomputation and Physics of Complex Systems (BIFI) at the Universidad …
Service 
9/24/10 
Study: People Are Cautious in Asking Help from Their Community
By Aalto University
People are cautious in exchanging favours and items with other people in their community. Researchers, who studied an online gift exchange service, say that many people buy services because …
People 
12/1/11 
Moral Dilemma: Would You Kill 1 Person to Save 5?
By Michigan State University
Imagine a runaway boxcar heading toward five people who can't escape its path. Now imagine you had the power to reroute the boxcar onto different tracks with only one …
More » 

Most Popular - Biology »
MALES »
Picky Male Black Widow Spiders Prefer Well-fed Virgins
CHROMOSOME »
From Liability to Viability: Genes on the Y Chromosome Prove Essential for Male Survival
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (April 23, 2014) – Despite a well-documented history of dramatic genetic decay, the human Y chromosome has over the course of millions of years of evolution managed …
URCHIN »
Three-banded Panther Worm Debuts as a New Model in the Study of Regeneration
BACTERIA »
Plants Send Out Signals Attracting Harmful Bacteria, MU Study Finds
SAVOLAINEN »
Two New US Turtle Species Described
ScienceNewsline  |  About  |  Privacy Policy  |  Feedback  |  Mobile  |  Japanese
The selection and placement of stories are determined automatically by a computer program. All contents are copyright of their owners except U.S. Government works. U.S. Government works are assumed to be in the public domain unless otherwise noted. Everything else copyright ScienceNewsline.