Friday, June 26, 2009

Memorializing Michael

How will we remember Michael? What makeshift memorials will become his Graceland? I have the feeling his childhood home in Gary, Indiana will become the fans' final mecca. In the meantime, here are some items that are already appearing on Etsy:

RIP Michael Jackson Shirt by Queenkutie

Amigurumi Michael Jackson doll by amicafe

Michael Jackson Tote Bag by Bao Studio

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Memory Quilts

I love the look of this Rag Quilt by Wiccked.

Some quilts are impeccably designed and sewn, yet their preciousness means they're relegated to the wall - look but don't touch. For me, the perfect Memory Quilt (made from a loved ones' clothing) should be cozy, something you embrace, something to wrap yourself in. This rag quilt, with its simple square pattern and soft, rustic flannel materials, is a great example of what a Memory Quilt should be. Tactile, cozy, and friendly.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bracelet Cards

Here's a new one, cards with three lives! Created by Unusual Birthday Cards on Etsy, these handmade creations begin as a written sentiment - sympathy and well wishes. The leather band that holds the card together can then be worn as a bracelet, as modern mourning jewelry. And when the bracelet gives way, it can be used as a bookmark.

This is a great way to extend our sympathy beyond a card, which typically sits on a mantel for a few days ... a short (and literal) shelf life. I also like the fact that this sentiment has multiple incarnations, evolving in time, just like our memories. Great idea!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fun Flower Arrangements

After college I worked for a florist. Everyday we created arrangements for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and of course funerals. The funeral arrangements were the most somber (and the most expensive.) I think people were afraid that if they requested an arrangement with a sense of humor, it would seem disrespectful. So we ended up creating conservative and unremarkable floral sprays, one after another. Gladiolas, carnations, and mums that may as well have been plastic.

I hope that we can get past the fear of being "disrespectful" and find new ways that actually embrace our loved ones' fun side - through flowers.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coffin Shelves

The concept of a coffin seems so removed from our everyday lives. But what about a coffin design that allows us to enjoy it while we are still alive? As profiled in Inhabitat, designer William Warren's Shelves for Life begins its use as a lovely set of shelves, holding the objects we adore. When the time comes, this system can be transformed into a coffin, ultimately holding us.

The beauty of this concept coffin is the reuse of wood from life through death - no need to spend money and resources on a casket. For me, I love the idea of bringing something personal from our home to be part of our eternal home. I also think these shelves act as a subtle momento mori. Just like the precious objects we choose to put on these shelves, life itself is precious and should never be taken for granted.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Mourning Poems

Poetry and grief have a long tradition. From the pre-Romantic "Graveyard Poets" to Yeats, Frost, and many others, poetry seems to articulate all facets of feelings that we often cannot find words to express. Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno's recent collection "Slamming Open the Door" is a raw and unflinchingly honest exploration of her grief after her daughter Leidy was murdered. Here's the poem that moved me the most:

What People Give You

Long-faced irises. Mums.
Pink roses and white roses
and giant sunflowers,
and hundreds of daisies.

Fruit baskets with muscular pears,
and water crackers and tiny jams
and the steady march of casseroles.
And money,
people give money these days.

Cards, of course:
the Madonna, wise
and sad just for you,
Chinese cherry blossoms,
sunsets and moonscapes,
and dragonflies for transcendence.

People stand by your sink
and offer up their pain:
Did you know I lost a baby once,
or My eldest son was killed,
or My mother died two months ago.

People are good.
They file into your cartoon house
until it bows at the seams;
they give you every
except your daughter back.

Here's the NPR interview with Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Think Outside the Urn

Why must urns be so serious?

According to Trendhunter, Dr. Fredric J. Baur worked for Proctor & Gamble for nearly 40 years, yet his crowning achievement was an iconic can - the famous Pringles cylindrical container. Before he died at the age of 89, he asked that his ashes be kept in one of these containers. What a fun way to spend eternity! I personally would go for a bag of Pepperidge Farm goldfish.