The A to Z Challenge – F for Funeral Mementos

The A to Z Challenge is on! Hello and welcome to my Main blog. My name is Rose Anderson and I’m a romance novelist. Join me and more than 2279 bloggers and authors as we blog the alphabet through the month of April. My daily posts will be mostly history with some science topics here and there. I’ve chosen subjects that tickle my fancy and hope you will find them interesting too.

Keep the topic rolling! If you have comments or questions, add them at the end of the post. I may not know the answer off the top of my head but I love research and would enjoy discussing my topics further. Comments can be made just below my bio in the tag section.

*FREE* If you enjoy reading scorching romances with unique twists and characters full of personality and depth, scroll down for a free chapter sampler. Find my book trailers in the tabs above.


Today’s Calliope’s Writing Tablet post is brought to you by the letter F ~
F for Funeral Mementos
Just as Hollywood celebrity inspires fans to go under the knife to look like their favorite stars, and TV shows such as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous encourage spending beyond one’s means, other periods in history had their own celebrities to emulate. I think it safe to say none had the social impact of Britain’s Queen Victoria . Practically everything the woman did became in vogue. Some of what we do today can be traced back to her. From child rearing to greeting cards to style to Christmas trees, she made an impact.

When typhoid fever claimed the life of Prince Albert that sad December in 1861, Queen Victoria was devastated. In dealing with her loss, she unintentionally set a mode for society. The Queen mourned her husband for 40 years and because of that, death became fashion.  Aside from wearing black every day for the rest of her life, she made sure their home stayed exactly as it was on the day her husband died. This included his clothes set out for the day, his toilette prepared for his shave, his place at the table set, and other sad daily rituals for a husband who was no longer there.

Regarding Victorian death rituals, there were very strict rules to follow: mirrors were covered, buntings hung, certain colors worn at certain times over the length of the mourning period. But it wasn’t enough that morning ritual was prolonged and the lives of the living impacted beyond their grief, a booming death business sprang into being. More than one city and hairtown had the latest embalming techniques advertised in mortician shop windows. Coffins and hearses and cemeteries all reflected the ostentatious Victorian flair.

Another common practice involved weaving your dear departed’s hair into flowers etc either for display  or 2abed9dadf413492922b52a5d0a5688dto be worn as jewelry.

One of the strangest things from the Victorian era occurred when the unusual focus on death partnered with that newfangled  invention photography and gave us The Memento Mori (Latin for remember that you must die)

In my opinion, this was the pinnacle of the death rituals — having life-like photos taken of your deceased as a memento. Elaborate stands and contraptions would hold the body in life-like poses. Eyes were painted on closed eyelids. And often, living family members joined in the photo shoot. I’ve seen dozens of these images and the photos that show the deceased child sitting side by side with a living sibling are the most haunting to me. It’s the confusion in their eyes. Death is hard enough for children to comprehend.

How often do we stumble across old Victorian era photos in antique stores or even in our attics? I’ve seen beautiful sleeping children and had no idea that sleep was eternal. I’ve seen others posing for the camera with staring faces. I’ll look closely next time. I might see the stands that aided the pose and those staring eyes might just be painted on.

The following pictures look like average photographs from the Victorian era, but in fact, they are love tokens — funerary mementos made to capture the life that was. I show them here in tribute to the love behind them.














Tomorrow ~ letter G


**NEW TODAY** on my satellite blog!Authors_in_Bloom-300x250

The Authors in Bloom event highlights those things authors do outside the many worlds of fiction. We garden, we cook, we craft etc. One of the more unusual things my husband and I have done was lead wild foods programs for Chicago’s Field Museum. For this event I’ll be sharing my recipes. Do stop by. You may have delicious ingredients waiting in your backyard!


I’m winding down on the 100 Things Blogging Challenge!
For nearly 100 days, 002xbqkt
I’ve post something from my chosen topic: Words on the Verge of Extinction. There are 6 entries to come.

Here’s one for today:

Decutient (adjective 1656)
~shaking down; beating down


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Our April contest is on. We’ll have 3 winners and a lot of prizes to split among them.


Love Waits in Unexpected Places –
Scorching Samplings of Unusual Love Stories
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About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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11 Responses to The A to Z Challenge – F for Funeral Mementos

  1. Madhu says:

    Very interesting post. Dropping by from the A-Z Challenge and your theme for the challenge immediately caught my attention. Will surely be stopping by often through this month!

  2. Ray G says:

    I knew about Queen Victoria mourning Albert for the rest of her life, but I did not know about preserving his stuff.
    My son is the family historian. He has several framed photos from the 1800s and early 1900s. In some of the family photos the dead are shown in their caskets. That is in my wife’s family mostly. The ones in frames are of the living.
    When my dad died there was a Japanese-American, father of my high school class valedictorian, passing the casket bowed in front of the casket. I did not know the man even knew my dad, but they were both farmers so I guess they must have known each other. There was a large crowd at the funeral, but I only remember one person outside my own family. It has stuck with me for all these nearly fourteen years.
    Because my wife was raised differently than I was she got angry at some of my extended family when my mother died. When they were at the reception most of the men were talking sports and some even out in the yard playing football. It was not the proper solemnity that occurred in her family’s post funeral gatherings.

    • I’ve attended both somber and lively wakes in my experience. My dad, a WWII vet, had the watch. In one of the larger towns in my county, there was a politician who went on a post mortem bar hop a few years back. I’ll have that. I want the party to celebrate my life. I’ll be there laughing with everyone. 🙂

  3. What shocking learning material you’ve provided me today, Rose. I knew nothing of this Victorian photography of the dead. I, too, shall look at future photos from that era with new eyes.

    • Out of context it sure seems a bizarre thing to do. It makes me wonder if the practice ended after Victoria’s death. She was the one with the death rituals. I did see one picture that by the clothing looks about WWII-era. After that, nothing.

  4. Hello from another a-z blogger. I love the old photos, they always tell a story don’t they? How are yu getting along with the challenge? It looks like you have entered a few things LOL, I am not sur ehow you cope x

  5. skmarshall2014 says:

    Rose, when I go back through old family photos, I’ll certainly pay more attention. Their poses were always stiff, but there could be a reason for it. Thanks for another interesting post.

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