Was anyone else here incensed by


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Oct 23, 2000
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Was anyone else here incensed by what happened to the grave of poor Joe Dawson a few years ago? I was so mad about it I wanted to go to Halifax, grab all that danged junk heaped on his gravestone, and cast it into the lowest level of hell I could find, and I still want to write to those who run Fairview Cemetery and protest how they let Mr. Dawson's grave become such a poison spot of decadence. Anyone know how to contact them?
I just cannot believe how many off-the-beam fans of Mr. DiCaprio were so desperate to be near him that they trashed the grave of a man who was NOT the character their idol played in the chick-flick just because they wanted to salk the thirst of their desire for the fella they swooned over like bobbysoxsers listening to Frank Sinatra sing.
Another thing: why in the heck dosen't Fairview have a policy that any unsightly items would be IMMEDIATELY removed from the grounds? A cemetery near where I live has such a policy, and by God I
can't see why Fairview doesn't have one, for a cemetery is supposed to be a SACRED place, not a trash heap.
Some people felt what happened to Joe's grave wasn't wrong. Well, I'm sorry, but I disagree with that view point-blank, for I believe what happened to it was INSANE and NOT RIGHT by a longshot!
Sorry, just had to get this off my chest, folks.

Richard K.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Richard- seems to be a sign of the times- this need to leave mementos at gravesites. Am thinking of Pere LaChaise in Paris and the "tributes" left to Doors legend Jim Morrison- bottles of Jack Daniels! Jerry Garcia, James Dean, Elvis- all suffer the same strange type of adulation. Even Edgar Allen Poe receives a bottle of brandy and a rose every January by the unknown "Poe Toaster". I live near a cemetery and am always disturbed by plastic ducks, Christmas trees, vinyl Easter Bunnies, teddy bears, etc- and MOST unsettling- long LETTERS to the dead left on the stones to be read by the "deceased"- I have actually thought about writing a book called "The American Way of Death" examining this 20th cen. phenomenon. I was a little stunned that toys were left at Halifax at the grave of the unknown child recently. I wonder if all the focus on spiritualism, life after death, movies which promote psychic possibilities of contacting the "spirit world", etc. have affected this generation's mourning behavior and modes of expressing grief and loss. At the very least it is bad taste and tacky clutter. In some cases it is painful to family members who must see these maudlin and sometimes ridiculous deposits at the gravesite of a teenager whose life was cut tragically short. The Dead are past caring about these trifles and the living- somehow derive some sense of comfort by the leaving of such tokens. Remember the recent case of Princess Diana- the need to pelt the hearse with flowers, leave balloons and all manner of trash tied to railings and gateposts. It is perplexing to those of us from the postwar era, but I fear this mode of expression is here to stay as a way to cope with bereavement and loss . I guess any celebrity or victim of tragedy publicized world-wide is target for this strange outpouring- the airline catastrophies, the government building bombings- all receive this outpouring of litter on the premises. What was being mourned at Mr. Dawson's grave I wonder- lost youth-? love cut short in its prime? The film touched such a chord with youth internationally- such as the death of Buddy Hollie or James Dean- that it was not surprising that this manifestation occured at his grave. On a practical note- it IS possible to write to the Fairview people and register disapproval- no doubt the junk was cleared away. I have left several wreaths there over the past 10 years and they are cleared away fairly rapidly.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Hi Shelley; I tend to agree with you about the obsession with mourning that seems to have infected modern culture. I'm hardly indifferent grief at the loss of a loved one or to tragedys on a large scale, or the death of a noted personality who actually deserves some measure of acclaim, but what I see these days goes beyond a nuerotic obsession.

I remember vividly the shennanigans surrounding the tragic death of Princess Diana. While I didn't agree with all of her views at times (I fervently hold to the notion that landmines have valid applications in warfare) she was an individual who was willing to back up her beliefs with her actions. The woman was not without her faults, but she this sort of integrity is something I wish we could see more of. There never does seem to be enough of it.

I saw quite a bit of the coverage from the British perspective when I was stationed in Iceland on Sky News and BBC, and it was amazing to watch an entire nation come to a screeching halt. Still, much of what I saw, IMO, went over the top, and the press was no help. They kept an interest alive in the matter long after it was time to let go, and at the price of ignoring or giving short shrift to other events worthy of attention. Mother Theresa's death for example.

Sooner or later, one has to get over it and move on.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Bill DeSena

Guest
Hi Michael, et al,

I've been away from the board since last December and am happy to see your still here along with many other notobles.

Funeral trash,...well isn't that the stuff that Howard Carter found that led to his discovery of Tut's tumb? So I guess in the long view of history "funeral trash" does have a value.

Regards
Bill
 

Tracy Smith

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Nov 5, 2000
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Shelley, Jessica Mitford wrote a book titled "The American Way of Death" in 1963.

On a more recent note, after the recent death of racing great, Dale Earnhardt, his family buried him in a private, undisclosed location to avoid these tacky tributes mentioned above. Unfortunately, his widow, Teresa Earnhardt, is now in the courts fighting to block the distribution of Earnhardt's autopsy photos to the newspapers.
sad.gif
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Hi Bill, glad to see you're back. I'm not certain about "funeral trash" being used to find Tut's tomb, but I rather doubt it was left on the scale you see today.

Tracy, I'm as disturbed as you about the newspapers trying to get the autopsy photos. They claim they want to do their own "investigation" (Investigate what and just who does the investigating?) Freedom of the press does not mean anyone has to co-operate with them. A fact that is apparently lost on the papers, and possibly the courts as well.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Well- so it looks as if someone has beat me to the writing of my potential bestseller! Too late again.. Today I was looking into funeral customs-there are some fascinating sites dealing with customs of mourning in Victorian times. Closure seems to be the big word these days- it's as if the deceased must be seen before the loss can register. I am still perplexed why millions were spent on JFK Jr. and his passengers-to bring up the plane, find the bodies, then to put them all back in the sea again. I thought of Titanic's victims which were sewn up in bags and returned to the deep. Here are some links regarding customs which may be of interest- I am an enthusiastic taphophile and can promise much can be learned about a generation from an hour's sojourn in a cemetery!
http://www.tales.ndirect.co.uk/A_ZINDEX.HTML

http://cityofshadows.stegenga.net/

http://members.aol.com/TombView/links.html

http://here.at/cityofthesilent

Hope they all work!
 
Mar 20, 2000
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All,

It is very true what each of you have said. Grief does seem to be expressed differently now for the most part than in the past.

I wonder if it is because the younger generation (my age and younger)has not experienced the grief of war and so have not had the "normal" outlets for emotion that older people have had.

For instance, many of us have no memory of Vietnam and were not even around when Kennedy was shot. Such terrible times change one's perspective on death. My parents, for instance were teenagers during the Cuban Missile crisis and this must have been traumatic, then Kennedy, and all the racial upheaval and political troubles and assassinations.

My generation mostly remembers Pac-Man and Punk Rock and the only really sad event that got huge media coverage that I remember in my youth was the Challenger disaster. And as far as the deaths of famous people, nobody in my memory was mourned so publicly as Princess Diana, not Elvis or Nixon or anybody.

I can't account for why we grieve the way we do - Shell's idea of a study is a good one - but in Diana's case it certainly had a lot to do with the media whose constant presence in our lives (and hers sadly) made her so familiar to us that when she died in such an unexpected and senseless way, many felt they'd lost a member of the family.

This may seem weird but the press had made all her private sufferings so public that we came to identify or at least sympathize with her, so much so that when she was killed, it was a like a personal blow.

For the record, though, I think the outpouring of sentiment, insofar as flowers being left at Kensington Palace and at the embassies, was very moving and seemed an appropriate expression of grief.

I do agree that leaving reams of messages and balloons and ribbons and candles on graves is not appropriate and certainly the way the Dawson grave was treated was a sacrilege. To me, seeing a gravesite spilling over with stuffed animals and ornaments and all manner of nonsense is in the worst of taste. But one sees this all the time now, even in small cemeteries.

I just wish I knew for sure what it means.

Randy

PS) I suppose I ought to fear sounding a note of caution here as this has gotten me into trouble, but I think it ought to be said that as grief is so personal, perhaps the deepest feeling we can have, it really is not for me or anyone else to criticize if a mom puts a stuffed animal on the grave of her baby or or if a husband or wife leaves a note for their departed. It is odd to me and others but each of us handles death in our own way.
 

Tracy Smith

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Good post, Randy.

I was born in 1958, so I remember a lot of those things you mention about the sixties, but from the perspective of a child. I was five when JFK was shot, but I do remember it. I was ten when his brother got killed, and I remember that our family was among the thousands of people who went to NYC to wait hours in line in order to file past his closed casket to pay our respects.

I remember the Vietnam War mainly as nightly updates on the evening news (Huntley and Brinkley nightly news for all us oldsters who remember that).

As an adult, I look back on the sixties and remember it generally as a time of transition, when the world was making a major shift, probably one of the major turning points of the century.
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Yes indeed-grief is a personal thing- expressed in individualistic ways. Marjorie Newell said her Mother wore black for life and slept with her husband's watch and ring under her pillow after the Titanic disaster. The tragedy was never spoken of- nor were subjects pertaining to ships or disasters. Victorians -and to a certain degree, Edwardians maintained a seclusion period where friends and visitors respected an interval of privacy and sensitivity to the bereaved. The Victorians-perhaps taking the rituals and protocols to an extreme in matters of dress and decorum, closed ranks and looked inward for comfort and support- most often to religion. The Bamford series of Titanic postcards postsinking shows the Edwardian connection to God and untimely death. I have always thought Nearer My God To Thee as the final hymn was eagerly promoted as it tied in perfectly with the Edwardian perspective on Death and religious views. Gracie's account of the tragedy is peppered with references to his anglican faith in face of disaster. Today it seems one resorts to everything from astrologers, support groups for every conceivable cause, psychic hotlines, therapy, psychologists, psychiatrists, aromatherapy, acupuncture, herbology, Prozac, yoga, and more to cope with loss. What does it say about recent generations- were they made of tougher stuff back in 1912- is today's way of grief healthier? Seems like whenever there is a death in a school situation there are people called grief counselors now that come help the kids cope. Maybe death comes as a rude shock to this generation of eternally young, fit, in-charge people. The Edwardians were accustomed to the unfairness of death- steerage people were assuredly familiar with it- and all the injustices of life. I wonder how we would cope with a Titanic disaster this morning? Food for thought....
 
Aug 29, 2000
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As a florist for many years, I have often been called into funeral homes to arrange flowers for the family, sometimes within the coffin of the deceased- hearts, crosses, rosaries of blossoms, etc. I wonder if someone could explain the relatively new custom, especially in the case of a teen, of stuffing the coffin with photos, notes, mementos, etc. It is unbelievable the assortment of stuff young people seem to include- the most recent was a plastic statue of Star Wars Yoda! I see the value of the easel photo display of the deceased in Life but this other thing is unsettling. The most bizarre floral tribute? A telephone done in mums with "Jesus has called"...
Have done some research into Titanic memorial flowers as well- tastes were very different in 1912- some wreaths described in Halifax newspapers featured black and purple silk rosettes and ribbons with pink carnations. I actually re-created two of these -one for Alice Fortune and one at Fairview cemetery- interesting getting these over the Canadian border.
 
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Bill DeSena

Guest
Hi all,

I've been away from the board for awhile and seem to have returned to another intriguing discourse on human behavior towards grief and mourning.

I am old enough to remember when death was treated with dignity by mourners. In the '50's and '60's when many veterans of WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam were around public funerals and memeorials were conducted with reserve and sober dignity. I remember attending many memorials as a child and young man. Usually just a simple flag drapped coffin and wreaths of flowers supplied the tangible elements of emotions. Not so today,...it seems that as a people we have more need to leave the daily trash behind with the dead. Perhaps its just an expression of our materialism that mourning must be filled with the same junk and cheap glitz that fills our daily lives. Then again maybe its something far deeper in our collective human experience.

Hi Randy, didn't know you was such a kid!

Regards
Bill
 
B

Bill DeSena

Guest
Hi all,

I've been away from the board for awhile and seem to have returned to another intriguing discourse on human behavior towards grief and mourning.

I am old enough to remember when death was treated with dignity by mourners. In the '50's and '60's when many veterans of WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam were around public funerals and memeorials were conducted with reserve and sober dignity. I remember attending many memorials as a child and young man. Usually just a simple flag drapped coffin and wreaths of flowers supplied the tangible elements of emotions. Not so today,...it seems that as a people we have more need to leave the daily trash behind with the dead. Perhaps its just an expression of our materialism that mourning must be filled with the same junk and cheap glitz that fills our daily lives. Then again maybe its something far deeper in our collective human experience.

Hi Randy, didn't know you was such a kid!

Regards
Bill
 
Dec 13, 1999
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Shelley My Dear, As an ex florist you may be able to cast some light on this one - or it may have been a custom perculiar to the South West of England.
Whilst carrying out some research into a couple of victims of the Empress of Ireland disaster I visited the church where they had been married shortly before and where their remains had been returned to and duly buried. Whilst there I met the local "aged lady" - every village has one! who recalled the funeral as a small child and said that the couple were placed in caskets with a white ribbon tied around both their wrists (linking the coffins together in fact) this ribbon was then cut half way through which symbolised young love tragically severed. Ever heard of that one?
 
Aug 29, 2000
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Actually Geoff Old Bean- I am ex-lots of things but am still a florist on weekends. The little business is Sanctaflora (classier than Holy Blossoms!). Mostly I do church flowers and wedding work. To answer your question, the custom of the white ribbon bands is symbolic of wedded bliss tragically cut short in its prime. In funeral statuary this is often represented by a column which is chopped off half way up,or two entertwined rings broken at the halfway point. The priest, at the wedding service will bind the forearms of the bride and groom with the white silk stole around his neck to joint the couple in the eyes of the church. In Greek Orthodox and Russian church, two white crowns of flowers joined by white ribbons are placed on the heads of the groom and bride, then crossed and interchanged. The floral funeral arts did not truly flourish until Victorian times when excessive floral tribute became more common. A closed book of flowers was a theme for an adult deceased, a sheaf of wheat harvested for an elderly one, heart, anchor and cross for Faith Hope and Charity, a pillow of flowers for Eternal Sleep. The Victorians were mad for symbolism and language of flowers. This reached a fever pitch by the 1890's and even trickled into the Titanic era. I have super sites on this stuff if interested- this is one of my rabid passions. (poor thing, needs to get a life- heads on the ET Board sadly shaking). Morticia
 
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