Memento mori for the modern age
June 5, 2018 8:11 AM   Subscribe

In an era of increasing death positivity, I'm wondering what kinds of options are available today for mourners that might like to hang onto a physical part or representation of their departed loved ones in a beautiful or practical way. I've heard of Victorian death masks and hair jewelry and the like, but do services like this still exist and, if so, are there other options as well? A cursory internet search turned up things like cremation diamonds and jewelry, but I'm curious what other kinds of possibilities are out there.
posted by helloimjennsco to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
There are a lot of different things you can see if you do an Etsy search for "cremation ashes" some of which is DIY and some of which is not (bullets, rings, vials, tubes, flasks, acorns). Many crematoriums will try to pitch you "Hey we have your loved ones fingerprint, you can get it on a necklace" which I think of as exceptionally ghoulish (and I carry my mom's ashes around with me, I am not squeamish) but other people seem to really like that idea.
posted by jessamyn at 8:16 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]

There are also places (etsy and others) to make jewelry with someone's handwriting and/or signature, which can be a manifestation of their presence while also being lovely (and less ghoulish than body-part imprints IMHO).
posted by nkknkk at 8:31 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]

you can have cremains pressed into a playable vinyl record
posted by noloveforned at 8:31 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]

Memorial tattoos are a whole big thing. Date-of-birth/date-of-death tattoos and memorial portrait tattoos are incredibly common. If future history books cover one mourning custom of this type from our era, that'll be it. (It's also a custom that's really strongly class-linked in interesting ways. If your social circle is thoroughly upper-middle-class, you may not know anyone who has one.)

If you want something that's more about the dead body itself, a friend has a tattoo of zir late partner's thumbprint, based on a print zie took at the funeral home.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:34 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]

Goldengrove Jewelry makes a lot of mourning-esque/memento mori fine jewelry, and also does custom memorial and hairwork pieces
posted by quatsch at 8:41 AM on June 5 [2 favorites]

I sometimes see "in memory of" decals on the back windows of cars and trucks in my neck of the woods.
posted by BoscosMom at 9:30 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]

If you want to preserve your (or a loved one's) tattoo these people will help.
posted by atomicstone at 9:31 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]

Memorial tattoos are a whole big thing.

Not just what nebulawindphone (correctly) said--it's even possible to mix cremation ashes with tattoo ink.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:41 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]

Cremation ashes can be turned into blue diamonds, then set in jewelry.
posted by Lexica at 10:19 AM on June 5

There is nothing you (or someone who does it professionally) cannot do with cremation ashes. Glass, clay, glaze, cement, metal, paint, jewels... My friend Barton used to cast the ashes of various dogs into bone-shaped paperweights for their people.

I personally like the fingerprint necklaces.

If I get another tattoo, it may be of my deceased dad's handwriting. People have other people's signatures inked on; I think it's nice.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:38 AM on June 5

In the vein of tattoos, not long ago I saw a post from someone who had turned a clip of voice mail from her grandmother into a tattoo ; her smartphone would play the audio when she held the camera up to it.
posted by Jeanne at 10:50 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]

You can get beads for jewelry or rosaries made from funeral flowers.
posted by cooker girl at 11:02 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]

Jeanne: her smartphone would play the audio when she held the camera up to it

A bit more info: You Can Now Get a Tattoo That Actually Plays Back Your Pre-Recorded Audio - I'm not really sure how it's different from a QR code tied to an audio file, beyond the fact that it's the visual representation of a sound, with software to link to a hosted file. And QR is resilient enough to allow for some artistic representations of the normally black and white blocks.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:17 AM on June 5

Hello there! Long-time lurker, first time poster. My mother has a necklace and I have a bracelet charm which were cast from my father's thumbprint. I love it because it's something tactile that doesn't creep me out. It's also kind of cool looking so it also works without knowing the meaning behind it.
posted by acidnova at 11:18 AM on June 5 [1 favorite]

When (if?) I'm the last one standing, I'm going to combine a bit of all the collected ashes and have something like this done. It's nice, I think.
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:19 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]

Ash is used in making ceramics glazes. There are recipes for using pet ashes to make glaze - I plan to eventually do this with the ashes of my beloved cat - and I really really want someone to turn me into glaze after I die.
posted by centrifugal at 12:40 PM on June 5 [1 favorite]

I have mementos of people I've been close to who've died that I keep on my keyring. A small screwdriver similar to this with "Air Force A Rewarding Career" engraved on it that was my dad's. For my aunt I have small St. Christopher medal that belonged to her. For my grandmother I have a gold charm in the shape of a girl's head engraved with my name and birthday that my parents must have given her.

My friend's family owns a mint and I bought this coin to add to my keychain. On one side it says "Memento Vivere" - "remember to live - and on the other it says "Memento Mori" - remember to die.
posted by bendy at 7:37 PM on June 5 [3 favorites]

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