Thursday, July 10, 2014

hold time in your hand and remember me

Time is a current we're not always mindful of ... until someone we love steps out of it. When we lose someone, we mourn the loss of time we were supposed to have with that person. It never seems to be enough. Although we may feel cheated, we should also remember the precious time we did have together.

This may be one of the reasons why pocket watches have been such a significant token within families, linking one generation to the next. As objects they are intimate, something cradled in the palm of your hand. And like all meaningful memento mori, they remind us that the clock is ticking.

Engraved pocket watches make a tremendously thoughtful gift for both men and women. This mechanical, handmade pocket watch by Victorian Studio can be engraved with the person's name and date if desired.

Victorian Studio offers several designs, from classic to ornate. Here's another design (I clearly favor the ornate!):

And perhaps these pocket watch charms by Peace, Love and Charmony, could be given to guests as a memento (attached to a modest ribbon and note, of course!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Where have I been?

Wow, it's been a LONG time since I've posted! But I'm back, promise.

I've been very busy with my day job, which sometimes means dwelling on death in in a very different, often exhausting way. To confess:  I work as a writer/producer for non-fiction tv, and the majority of my projects have been true crime stories. Writing about other peoples' tragedies (and not always feeling good about it) has taken up all space in my psyche allotted to loss & death.

With my free time I escaped back into life - finding solace in friends and family, always aware of how precious and fleeting our time is here. Honestly, who wants to dwell on death when life offers so much?

Yet ... yet. The Modern Mourner blog has always been waiting for me. It's been quiet, polite, all the while knowing how much I love it. Helping others find meaningful (and beautiful!) ways to say goodbye is truly my life's work. It's where my heart lies.

Life is beautiful ... and Death should be too.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

in Wrethe

 Beautiful wreathes by Amy Merrick.

I love the symbolism of wreaths (from wrethe, which means to band). With no beginning and no end, they embody eternal love.  While these are specifically holiday wreaths, these would also be perfect at a time of loss, a way to express love that transcends this temporal world.

Friday, August 10, 2012

light my way back

Oh dear, I'm truly sorry for my absence! I vow to return and post with more loyalty. I let my day job get the better of me. But I realized that it's my hopes to find more meaningful ways to mourn - and to share them with others - that truly gives my own life true meaning.

These tin can candles posted by are wonderful. I love the simplicity and modesty of the vintage can with little shy rays of light poking through. And it goes without saying that these modest lights lend themselves to a sweet analogy - the persistence of light in the heaviest of times.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Friday, March 30, 2012

you will always be the most beautiful woman in the world to me

You had been part of my life from the beginning ...

and when I lost you, it seemed too soon.

Still, I see your smile everywhere

your love for everyone and everything only made me love you more. It didn't seem fair that such a bright and loving spirit could be taken away from me. I didn't understand.

In time, I came to realize that you're still somehow so close to me ...

through your absence you taught me that a mother's love is eternal and transcendent. And that is the most beautiful love of all.

Mom, I love you so much.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

a heart to hold onto

One of the best ways to honor the memory of someone is by handing out thoughtful tokens at a service. It doesn't have to be anything big or extravagant - just a small item that reminds us of the love we will always harbor in our hearts that person. For me, the best remembrance favors are handmade objects made with love.

That's why I love these crocheted hearts by Cornflower Blue Studio (currently 10 for $6.) They come in a variety of colors, and would be perfect to hand out as a remembrance favor. Delicate and gracious, these hearts symbolize your gratitude for the guests' kindness and charity. And for the recipients, these sweetly crocheted hearts will keep the memory of the loved one alive in their own hearts.

Also, I just have to express my love for Cornflower Blue Studios' hand-embroidered notes. These little quilted messages can be customized, so if you want to send a kind thought to someone in need of it, this would be a very thoughtful and treasured gift!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

a new altar

Wouldn't this DIY lily backdrop make any memorial more gorgeous? I imagine how it would gently sway in the breeze, adding movement and a sense of lightness. Here are the DIY instructions as they appear in Ruffled.

Although this was originally designed by My Hands Made It to be displayed at a wedding, I think it would be a lovely addition to any memorial service. These draped strands of lilies, especially if draped in front of a window or even outdoors, are simply gorgeous as a luminous and ethereal cascade. (For what it's worth, lilies are one of the most traditional memorial flowers, symbolizing the soul's return to innocence.)

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I encourage anyone who is faced with planning a memorial service to visit wedding blogs like Ruffled for inspiration. There are so many wonderful (and easy!) ideas that could just as well work for a memorial service. If you think about it, many of the components are the same - guest books, altar, photo displays, flowers, and table centerpieces. Memorials should be just as meaningful and pretty as any wedding!

Why can't memorials be more like weddings?

Vintage keys as remembrance favors (from Bustled Events)

It's my goal to make death pretty again. And I believe memorials deserve to be as beautifully styled as any wedding. Like a wedding, memorials are ceremonies devoted to love. And love, whether it's earthly or eternal, always merits gorgeous and affectionate design.

Vintage card cabinet and photo display from Martha Stewart Weddings

Of course, the primary reason for the lack of style with memorials is the weight of grief. Who wants to think about design at a time when they can hardly function? So it's my hope to create templates of memorial ideas that can be easily recreated. These services will have many DIY components, which I believe not only makes the memorial more personal, it allows family and friends to contribute in a meaningful way.

Right now I'm working on different themes - vintage, rustic, beach, garden, classic, and neo-Victorian. In time I hope to have photo shoots highlighting each theme, but for now I've been collecting ideas on my Pinterest page. I spend a lot of time on DIY wedding blogs like Forget Me Knot Weddings, 100 Layer Cake and Grey Likes Weddings looking for inspiration, and I encourage others who are planning memorials to check out these sites.

Memorials are all about remembrance, so it's nice to bring in vintage items that are also meaningful - from tea tins to doilies, crockery to cookbooks. Here are just a few display ideas incorporating easy-to-do vintage elements from Ruffled, Bustled Events, and Hazlitt Vintage Rentals:

I hope that we can reinvent how we think of memorials, and treat them with the same love and affection that we do with weddings. Why not?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

between here and there

When someone leaves us, where do they go? What images of this Other Place console us? For me, it's often something that evokes a romantic and wistful journey. That's why I love these enchanting prints by Theater Clouds.

These images (the one above is "Somewhere Between") are actually photos of paper miniature theaters, constructed with care to create a dreamy sense of atmosphere. I find these sailboats comforting, and I wonder if something like this would be much more soothing than the sympathy cards covered with the traditional lilies.

I also adore the lofty sentiments of this balloon.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Behold the Medium, sterling silver ring and necklace by BloodMilk. These pieces were inspired by Lily Dale, a small town of spiritualists where the living and the departed commune on a daily basis.

Are these the tender and gracious hands of the spiritualist ... or the spirit?

Monday, September 26, 2011

unexpected ghosts

I love all things lovely, ghostly and ethereal, especially in when encountered unexpected places. These chicken wire figures from Pinterest (via Dudecraft) are absolutely enchanting.

Too often ghosts are either silly or scary. Why can't they always be beautiful like this?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

vintage cigar box for photos and flowers

Can you think of anything more nostalgic, colorful and cheery than vintage cigar boxes? I was so excited to find these at Sunday's Alameda Flea Market, only $20 for the entire batch! The rips and scuffs only add to their well-loved patina of time. Someone cared enough to store these for all these years, and I now hope to give them new life as potential memorial displays.

Vintage cigar boxes are ideal displays for photos, flowers, or both. Especially remembrance services for men, where you don't want to go too frilly with the floral arrangements. I've placed old photos directly inside the box alongside succulents and airplants, but you can use mini clothespins to attach the photos inside the raised lid. These boxes make wonderful centerpieces, or can be the center of attention on a memory table.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

urn cozies and vintage books

Here are a couple of new knit urn cozies, which will be available for sale on my soon-to-be-revised website (details soon!) This lovely wine colored cozy is by Andrea Lesley Crochet. Andrea's an amazing Etsy seller well-known for her adorable tea cozies. So while you may not be in the market for an urn cozy at this time, please check out her tea cozies, they'll make the perfect gift sure to help warm up chilly autumn evenings.

The lovely thing about knit urn cozies is that they're simply created to cover the plastic box that most people receive from the funeral home. Whether you're planning to scatter the ashes at a later date, or simply don't know what you want to do just yet, knit cozies like these offer a nice warm, textured alternative to a stark plastic box.

I personally love the way these cozies look with vintage, well-loved books. The knit cozy below is another nice option by The Hat Pit.

One of my goals with this project is to help people find ways to bring urns into their daily lives - so many people I've spoken with don't know what to do with urns they receive, and all too often they end up (guiltily) in the back of a closet. In their attempts to be respectful, traditional urns can unintentionally take on an ominous presence. For me, these knit cozies are a friendly and unassuming alternative. They don't suck the air out of a room the way formal urns can.

I hope others will agree with me!

Monday, June 27, 2011


When you think of urns, the words "soft" and "tactile" rarely come to mind. I'm hoping to change that with knit urn cozies. This one is created by Andrea Lesley Crochet, who's well known for her handcrafted tea cozies. Isn't this lovely?

Monday, May 9, 2011

you are loved...

Sometimes we all need to be reminded.

Shanna Murray's lovely wall decals provide a sweet way to remember. Alone or adorned with pictures or mementos, these decals can be placed on a window, a wall, or any place that will help brighten your day.

It's funny, I had just been thinking about the symbolism of knots, thanks to Art of Mourning's Symbolism Sundays (one of the highlights of my week):
Let’s take a look at the knot itself. The symbol itself is woven in on itself, enough to consider that two individuals are tying together to establish an interwoven union where two become one in the symbol. Next, there is the understanding of the knot becoming tighter as the two ends become further apart. Once again, distance only makes two people closer through its very nature. The knot also loops around on itself and travels in an eternal twist, for the love between the couple is forever undying. Put all these together and you have a rather special and beautiful symbol, one that encompasses much of the basis of what sentimental jewels are created for.