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Virtual tombstones, tattoo tributes and mourning T-shirts are growing in popularity
Date:9/30/2013

These days, rather than black apparel traditionally worn at funerals, some people opt for a "mourning T-shirt" that may be the deceased person's favorite color. It may display dates of birth and death, an image, and an affectionate nickname and be worn long after a funeral.

"A T-shirt also is a way for people who aren't family or allowed time off from work to say, 'I am grieving,'" Cann said.

Car decals, as well as shoe polish or liquid chalk on vehicle windows, are being used to pay tribute to the dead.

While it has long been common to leave teddy bears or erect wooden crosses at the scene of a tragedy, people are becoming more imaginative and personal. Cann found a snow-white "ghost bike," festooned with a maroon Christmas garland and placed at the site of a bicycle accident.

But "the bike is a clean, pristine version - not the one that was mangled," Cann said.

Besides funeral home websites that allow "virtual visitors" to sign guest books, online mourning has evolved to include Facebook's "R.I.P." permanent memorials, as well virtual tombstones, which allow people to use their smartphones to scan headstone codes and launch websites with an interactive life story for those who visit the grave in person or online.

While spontaneous public memorials with flowers and teddy bears spring up after such tragedies as the Boston Marathon bombings, "those spaces are becoming smaller in geography and time," with people differing over how much is enough, Cann said.

But when such public memorials are removed, Cann said, they almost invariably return in "the virtual realm . . . The dead will return to haunt us if we do not acknowledge them."


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Contact: Terry Goodrich
terry_goodrich@baylor.edu
254-710-3321
Baylor University
Source:Eurekalert

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