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Thumbies - one of the ways of remembering the departed
Thumbies - one of the ways of remembering the departed

Press Release - 12 September 2005

Changing trends in funerals and memento mori

American baby boomers and personalized death trends

There is now an unprecedented range of ways for the American baby boom “have-it-all” generation to remember their deceased friends and relatives. Their options for memento mori include Thumbies (keepsake fingerprint impressions), jewelry (from gold extracted from the teeth) or LifeGems (diamonds made from the carbon in the deceased's brain).

The dead themselves also have a number of options - their remains can be brushed into an oil painting, scattered over a coral reef or launched into space (e.g. Hunter S Thompson). They can even make the final journey at an Elvis-themed funeral, or at a drive-thru funeral home. Unless, of course, they choose to have their body mummified or preserved through cryonics.

Professor Dickinson will explore some of the above options, and address the issue of why baby boomers in the USA seemingly desire such changes from the traditional funeral.

Professor George E. Dickinson (College of Charleston)
Tel: +1 843-953-5738

Therapeutic aspects of family-organised 'green funerals'

The therapeutic aspects of organising a funeral without the help of a funeral director are often overlooked and ought to be taken into consideration. This is because they have far-reaching positive consequences for the bereavement process and also can have an uplifting affect on the period leading up to the death. But even if the family organise the funeral after the person has died, as in case of sudden death, there are a number of aspects which suggest that a 'green' funeral can make an important contribution towards the healing process of grief.

Josefine Speyer is a psychotherapist, co-founder and former co-director of the Natural Death Centre and co-editor of the fourth edition of the Natural Death Handbook (Rider, 2003).

Josefine Speyer
Tel: +44 (0)208 208 0670
Mobile / Conference contact (Friday night and Saturday only) : 07960 548 303

Natural burial grounds: increased provision, promotion and legislation

Natural burial is the fastest-growing sector in UK body disposal in recent years. As ever-increasing public awareness of the ecological benefits of natural burial leads to more demand, some local planners appear to find applications for natural burial grounds ‘novel’ - holding up planning applications for the creation of new natural burial grounds.

Mike Jarvis is a contributor to The Natural Death Handbook and a former administrator of the Association of Natural Burial Grounds.

Michael Jarvis
Tel: 0771 597 6566

"Hey Dad, it's me again..." Visiting the cyberspace cemetary

Since 1995, memorials to the dead have been posted in cyberspace cemeteries and although such memorials have no physical presence to touch or care for, there are indications that web memorials are just as lovingly and frequently visited as graves. Visitors to virtual cemeteries enter a space where public displays of grief are accepted and can be made permanent through signing the guest book. Guest book entries mourning the loss, demonstrating affection and telling the deceased about recent events are common, but entries also include those of mothers constructing the identities of stillborn children and widowers telling their dead wives about their upcoming marriages. In addition to the authors of web memorials, guest books are signed by bereaved family members and friends as well as strangers who are visiting other memorials in the cemetery. Their entries communicate with the living and the dead, providing assurances that the dead are not forgotten and that their mourners are supported.

Contact: Pamela Roberts (California State University, Long Beach)
Tel: +1 (562) 985-8530

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