Gifts Become Her
May 30, 2006 9:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a gift to get somebody who's really interested in death. [more inside]

It's a going away present for an important person who's about to go
backpacking for a while, so large objects, or "foreign" items (such as
totems from India, for example) are out because she will be to many of
these places. I want a going-away gift thats not cheesily related to
death, but something appropriate for a psychologist who has a sustained
love of engaging with death, more emotionally than physically, more
academically than practically. On that note, a fiction book would be
great, but I'm looking for something more interesting than strictly
books, if possible (these are obvious, and she's probably read most of
the best books about death during her studies anyway) -- any suggestions
from mortalicious mefites?
posted by pinto to Human Relations (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How We Die - Sherwin B. Nuland is a fascinating medical view of the process of death.
posted by dydecker at 9:58 AM on May 30, 2006

Something about historical gravesites? Or if you want something more clever, Weird NJ has a lot of stuff on famous burial sites (the tomb of the 12 nuns, etc.)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:59 AM on May 30, 2006

"The Wind" Warren Zevon

Here's a CD written and recorded by a guy who knew he was dying of lung cancer. It's both a farewell letter, and an act of defiance.
posted by Artful Codger at 10:02 AM on May 30, 2006

How about a book of prints by Posada? Or some nice Day of the Dead folk art? Some people find it kitschy, but personally I love it, the more colorful the better.
posted by melissa may at 10:06 AM on May 30, 2006

Gravestone Girls has some resin pendants cast from iconic New England gravestones.

This place has handmade glass jewelry using old mourning photographs, and dead bugs in lucite :).

Arcane Nonesuch has similar glass and collage pieces.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:12 AM on May 30, 2006

The Twentieth Century Book of the Dead is an interesting and strange attempt to add up how many people have died throughout the course of the twentieth century.
posted by pombe at 10:13 AM on May 30, 2006

I really enjoyed Anneli Rufus' The Farewell Chronicles.
posted by headspace at 10:13 AM on May 30, 2006

Ah, and this store has really cool copper bound journals that are small enough to hang around you neck. They're very cool.

(never bought from any of the aforementioned people, FWIW)
posted by oneirodynia at 10:17 AM on May 30, 2006

Not "death" per se, but certainly mortality-related:

The Sacred Heart, a photo-book of very gruesome yet beautifully photographed surgeries. The photos are pretty dramatic, pulling eyes out of the sockets, etc. These photos were used as liner art for a recent Fantomas album, and nearly made me pass out once as I browsed the book in a store.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:20 AM on May 30, 2006

Stiff: the Curious Lives of Human Cadavers is an entertaining read about exactly what it says.
posted by Drastic at 10:32 AM on May 30, 2006

Something from here?
posted by Rumple at 11:01 AM on May 30, 2006

How about some dead roses?
posted by Gooney at 11:33 AM on May 30, 2006

Passage by Connie Willis?
posted by nimsey lou at 11:40 AM on May 30, 2006

Are you sure she'd actually appreciate a gift about death? Would you buy a firefighter burnt stuff, a policeman something stolen, etc.? Just seems like an idea that could backfire if you're not very careful, especially if you go for some of the "stuff about dead bodies"-style suggestions here.
posted by reklaw at 11:42 AM on May 30, 2006

A Tarot deck.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:03 PM on May 30, 2006

A friend of mine has insisted for a while that an urn would make a fabulous gift for any occasion. I'm not sure the average person would agree, but maybe the person you're giving the gift to would like an urn?

Thinking differently, I'm with reklaw. Will they truly appreciate the gift? I'm big into bowling, and work in a bowling alley, but I hate getting bowling-themed stuff as a gift. But you'd know her better than I would.
posted by fogster at 12:28 PM on May 30, 2006

This book on death masks?
posted by Rumple at 12:36 PM on May 30, 2006

A small fossil? A bug in amber?
posted by dilettante at 12:47 PM on May 30, 2006

The comics Death: the High Cost of Living and Death: the Time of Your Life, spinoffs of the Sandman series? Alternately, to be cute, about half the things from Hot Topic.

There are also of course TONS of books on cemetaries, which tell you where folks are buried and such (I own "Graveyards of Chicago")
posted by dagnyscott at 2:10 PM on May 30, 2006

I used to go on some engineering group trips with my dad, whereby a bunch of people who worked at company X would be given a tour of facility Y, say a tunnel or hydro dam or something, by an engineer who worked there. The thing was, since they weren't tourist tours, the information given was a little more professional-to-fellow-professional-of-a-different-stripe, than just tour guide stuff (though there was that too) and they took place in restricted facilities for which there were no public tours.

Perhaps something similar could be arranged for your friend? A Morgue? Funeral directors? Pathology lab? Whichever professional service seems most fitting. I always got a lot out of them. Seeing how stuff really works behind the scenes.
posted by -harlequin- at 2:13 PM on May 30, 2006

How about a Day of the Dead halter dress. Or, if that's not her style, perhaps something made from the fabric?

I also found this DotD fabric journal while searching for the dress fabric, although they appear to be out of stock.
posted by carmen at 2:14 PM on May 30, 2006

Maybe a coffee table book about new orleans cemeteries? The above ground grave/tombs make it pretty. Plus there's the whole Marie Laveau mythos.
posted by juv3nal at 2:59 PM on May 30, 2006

I second carmen re: Day of the Dead stuff--it's all over the place, and wonderfully colorful, fun, and macabre. Unless your friend will also be traveling through Mexico, in which case she can pick some up on her own.
posted by folara at 4:54 PM on May 30, 2006

Oh boy. I love death!

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach is AMAZING. I am practically evangelical about this book.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion is incredibly powerful and deals with the emotional aspects of surviving a loved one's death.

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell explores her morbid preoccupation with the assassinations of Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. And it's awesome.

The Mummy Congress by Heather Pringle is a wonderful book about really really old dead people.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:07 PM on May 30, 2006

Stiff was an awesome book - the author's 2nd book, Spook - not so much.

Check out The Library Eclectica at one of my favorite sites, Asylum Eclectica.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:08 AM on May 31, 2006

Alex Grey's - Transfiguration

1/3 of the book is text on death/spirituality, the rest is art.

Some peices from the book:

posted by psyward at 9:49 AM on June 3, 2006

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