My mom’s recent death left behind a heartbroken daughter who could not fathom the huge vacancy in her life—amidst a societal expectation that one can rapidly move on. Instead of my grieving process tidily expiring shortly after the funeral, I was saturating myself in her: wearing her clothing, jewelry, boots, purses, scent; driving her car; and embarking on multiple related research projects. My actions seemed intuitive and natural, yet I felt overwhelmed in an autobiographical silo. I decided to explore what other people actually do and “why”. I developed a cultural probe—sending it through social media, receiving myriad responses that spanned generations, cultures, circumstances of death and time-elapsed since death. This study captures the rituals, activities, artifacts and interactions that people create to keep their loved one’s memory alive. These stories are especially poignant since no one is left untouched.
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Poignant and compelling. Video conveys what words cannot. Reminds me of work we did some years ago, (2004), Inalienable Wealth in North American Households, in Values and Valuables: From the Sacred to the Symbolic eds. Cynthia Werner and Duran Bell, Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira, 209-230, Eric J. Arnould, Carolyn Folkman Curasi, and Linda L. Price.