Posts Tagged ‘Memories’

The Old-Fashioned Way of Remembering – Memorial Portraiture

Many centuries ago, the Celts believed that their late relatives and friends have gone to a better place and marked their funerals with rich feasts and a lot of laughter. The Romans buried important members of society under roads and paths, because they believed that many people passing over their remains is a sign of honour and respect.

In the medieval fantasy series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’, the members of House Stark receive their own stone statue in the catacombs of the castle after they are gone, while the Tully House follows an ancient ceremony of setting the remains of the deceased on fire with the help of flaming arrows in the middle of the river.

The scholars of Jordan College in Philip Pullman’s ‘Northern Lights’ have another interesting ritual – the skulls of the deceased are preserved in special underground vaults and their ‘demons’ are represented by golden coins.

Indeed, the ways of remembering practiced in the real and the imaginary worlds vary dramatically and change over time. And while some ideas of remembering may appear shocking to us, it is useful to be acquainted with the different options of maintaining the connection, letting go and preserving memories. One really interesting way of remembering, which is not too popular now but was often used in America and Europe in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, was the memorial portraiture, also known as post-mortem photography.

In 1839, the invention of the daguerreotype made it possible for many people to have their pictures taken quickly and at an affordable price (in contrast to the costly and slow painted portraits). And while many people took advantage of the invention of photography and made sure to have photos of memorable events, a new application of the technology was quickly invented and adopted – Memorial Portraits. The families of deceased people often hired photographers to take the photo of a family member who had just passed away and the resulting pictures were their only visual memory of this person.

The interest of post-mortem photography soon motivated the photographers to discover different methods of representation. Indeed, some pictures showed the deceased person in their coffin, but there were many situations when the man behind the camera tried everything to make the model look as alive as possible. If you browse through this gallery of memorial portraits, you will see that some people look absolutely alive and you wouldn’t have guessed the nature of the photo if you didn’t know what you are going to see. Other photographs tried to arrange the photo in a way that would convince us the model is sleeping – especially when it came to babies or small children. They would usually hold a favourite object of theirs – a doll or a teddy bear, or even a pet! – to make the photo more realistic.

At one point, post-mortem photography became so popular that deceased pupils and students were included in collective photos of the class or the school. They were kept standing with the help of special tools that supported them, and later the photograph retouched the pictures to make them look alive. In this 9GAG post you can see some of the different techniques used by the photographers when shooting a memorial portrait.

Later in the 20th century, post-mortem photography started to lose its popularity. Indeed, when browsing the old photos, you can see how hard it was for family members to pose with their deceased relatives, but it also seems that they found the whole process natural, maybe even necessary for them to remember a child, a spouse, a sibling who ceased to be. If offered such service by a funeral agency today, we would probably react in a different way and will consider this a strange, shocking and unnatural process. Still, back in its day, post-mortem photography was one of the old-fashioned ways of remembering – it helped people get over their pain and preserve a fond memory of someone they had lost – and that is all that matters.

We Do Not Remember Days

“We do not remember days. We remember moments. The richness of life lies in memories we have forgotten.”

- Cesare Pavese, Italian poet and novelist.

Often, when we look back across the years, it is easier to recall singular moments than it is to remember an entire series of events. Even the most special occasions do not usually become memories we can play back scene by scene. We might remember isolated incidents, but those special days are more likely to be stored in our hearts and minds in the forms of feelings. When we sit back and recall a wedding, for instance, it is often the echo of the emotions we experienced that comes back to us.

Sometimes life can be so busy, the days and weeks blur into months and even years, and when we do have a chance to look back, all we can remember is the hustle and haste of taking care of business. If we aren’t careful, we find ourselves doing some occasional task, like Christmas shopping, and suddenly feel like it is only yesterday since we last did so, even though an entire year has passed.

That’s why it is important to try to notice each moment. Take time to truly take in the ever-changing people, the near-constant flux of emotions and the ongoing series of events that take place in your each and every day. Paying attention to your surroundings and the people near to you will deepen your appreciation and understanding of them. People who manage to pay sincere attention and develop mindfulness practices not only report a greater sense of well-being, but usually have a better developed ability to recall past events accurately.

This is your life! Stop and watch what is going on around you. Don’t miss the moments that would have become memories.

Remembering Practices

Losing a loved one is an inevitable aspect of everyone’s life, but the way we deal with this loss is strictly personal. There are many practices and techniques to stop grieving and start leading a normal life again, and it is up to you to find what will help you in the particular situation. Usually, your habits, beliefs and understanding of the world around us will affect the way you deal with loss and grief and you need to have in mind that nobody can claim with 100% what happens after someone leaves us. What you need to do is decide what your relationship with this person is.

While many specialists and bereavement professionals insist that the best way to get back to your normal life is to forget and let go, there are other equally powerful practices of dealing with grief. The core of the so-called Remembering Practices, developed by Lorraine Hedtke, is that there will be no grief to deal with if you realise that there is nothing you should grieve about. And here is how and why.

The fact that someone has stopped existing physically does not mean that they are no longer with us and no longer existing at all. Numerous sources related to religion, fiction, fantasy, philosophy, etc refer to ways in which a deceased person remains in the world. We don’t even need to explore the aspects of the supernatural to realise that our loved ones are still with us – the fact that we remember them and talk about them, have photos with them and know that they have existed, etches them forever in our memory.

If we acknowledge the fact that a person has lived and has marked the world with their existence, why should we say farewell and let go, if we can maintain a connection and relationship? Why should we stop grieving if we can talk, discuss, tell stories, remember the person and what they did when they were with us?

In this sense, losing someone is similar to reading a book. You are together and you have a great time, but at some point the book ends and many readers confess that they feel awful when they turn the last page. But that doesn’t mean you should throw the book away and try to forget about it. On the contrary, you will remember the book, you will discuss it with other people, you will speak about it, quote it, tell stories, maybe read it again and again. And you will have a sort of a never ending relationship, because every book changes the way we see the world.

While the relationship between people is far more complex than that between a reader and a book, the same principles apply. You cannot forget a person that has been in your life – trying to do so will only result in painful moments when you remember them. Instead, acknowledge that the person is no longer with you, but cherish the memory of them, the moments you have had together. Put your photos in a beautiful frame, get a personalised pendant with a picture of them, talk about them and talk TO them, think of the ways they changed you and influenced you.

There is nothing wrong in trying to maintain this relationship if that helps you live with your loss. If you find that the conventional process of saying farewell and letting go does not work for you, try the remembering practices and hopefully you will feel better and see the loss for what it is – a new beginning.

Rituals And Memory

Perhaps you have heard about the 5 year photo project – it is all about 5 friends who go back to the same place every 5 years and take the same photo again. They have been performing this unique ritual of theirs since 1982 and, according to them, it has kept their high school friendship alive.

Indeed, as we go back through the years, we realise that many of our memories are result of a sui generis ritual or tradition we have with our friends, relatives, parents. Of course, there are many spontaneous moments that turn into great memories, but knowing that next month or next year or even in 5 years you will be with the people you love performing something you all enjoy will certainly keep them fresh in your memory.

Therefore, it is proven that rituals have the useful ability to build memories. It is even more important that they work in two ways. Firstly, they help you remember that your friends are somewhere out there even if you can’t talk to them every day and meet them regularly. Secondly, they create real memories that you can take with your wherever you have – memories that will warm your heart when you feel lonely and under the weather.

Of course, when it comes to rituals, it may be something requiring a lot of preparation (like the 5 year photo project), or it may be something really simple, like sharing a cup of tea on Sunday afternoons. Talking on Skype from time to time, going to the cinema at Christmas, having a drink after a job well done (see “Boston Legal”) – it doesn’t really matter. The important part is spending great time with your loved ones and remembering it – because “nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”

So, if you are afraid that your memory may betray you and important people may begin to fade away, just make sure to create a ritual with them. No matter if it is formal or personal, religious and spiritual or simple and everyday, it will create a special bond between you and your friends and will make sure your relationship survives regardless of the circumstances. Even if the people in question are no longer among us, we can still keep them in our hearts with the help of rituals and maintain a connection as long as it makes us feel good.

If you don’t want to entrust everything to your memory, you can take additional measures to remember. During a favourite ritual of yours, take a nice picture with your loved once and ask us to engrave it on a pendant. With a picture on one side and the date of the ritual on another, you are sure to keep it fresh with you wherever you go. So if you want to make sure your friends, parents or significant others are safely preserved in your heart, contact Etched in Memories now and we will help you choose the best item for the occasion.

I Can’t Remember

Just a line to say I’m living
that I’m not among the dead,
Though I’m getting more forgetful
and mixed up in my head

I got used to my arthritis
to my dentures I’m resigned,
I can manage my bifocals
but God, I miss my mind

For sometimes I can’t remember
when I stand at the foot of the stairs,
If I must go up for something
or have I just come down from there?

And before the fridge so often
my poor mind is filled with doubt,
Have I just put food away, or
have I come to take some out?

And there’s a time when it is dark
with my nightcap on my head,
I don’t know if I’m retiring, or
just getting out of bed

So, if it’s my turn to write you
there’s no need for getting sore,
I may think I have written
and don’t want to be a bore

So, remember that I love you
and wish that you were near,
But now it’s nearly mail time
So I must say goodbye, dear

There I stand beside the mail box
with a face so very red,
Instead of mailing you my letter
I opened it instead

- Anonymous

Eyes Which Don’t See Each Other, Forget Each Other

“Eyes which don’t see each other, forget each other”, said the Bulgarians long ago, long before technological development and photos. And they were quite right for their time. Going away to work sometimes for the summer or for a year or two, young men going to war leaving newly formed families behind with the promise to return as soon as possible – all trying to keep their loved ones in their hearts.

However, it is one thing to promise and another to remember. It is wonderful if you have the right intentions and the ability to keep someone in your heart even if they are far away from you. Most people, however, need certain reminders. In olden times, this help came in the form of tokens, favours and precious little personal belongings that everyone carried away from home – something to keep to their heart and look at when they thought they were alone in the world. Later, with the development of photography, walls in lodgings, barracks, camps and trenches were decorated with small black-and-white photos, shortening great distances and helping people reach out and remember.

One token from popular culture has made a long-lasting impact to my idea of remembering. In the book “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, Ali and his son Amir flee Afghanistan for America with the intention to avoid the war. Before crossing the border, Ali “fished the snuffbox from his pocket. He emptied the box and picked up a handful of dirt from the middle of the unpaved road. He kissed the dirt. Poured it into the box. Stowed the box in his breast pocket, next to his heart.” Whether Ali would have forgotten the Afghan land without taking a bit of it with himself, I doubt. However, having it there, for luck, for proof that it all existed once and he was happy there – that would probably be helpful in times of trouble and when he was missing home.

Maybe those who say “out of sight, out of mind” are right. Maybe it is hard to keep your promise and remember after a couple of years and a few thousand kilometres? Or maybe it is easy to remember, but hard to keep the old feelings? Luckily, we don’t have to search too hard for the answers. We all have the means to keep in contact, even if we are as far away as we could be. We keep contact with our friends and relatives studying and working abroad, with those who have undertaken a challenging adventure – climbing Kilimanjaro or running with the African lions; we even receive sound and picture from the moon and those living in the International Space Station. Today, the world is small and if we want to remember, everything is in our favour.

So if you are afraid that “eyes which don’t see each other, forget each other”, don’t take the risk. A favourite picture of your loved ones would help you keep everyone in sight and won’t be a burden. And make sure you leave something behind – the eyes that need to remember are two sets, after all. Just choose the form of the memories you want to leave behind or take with you and contact us – at Etched in Memories so we can ensure you never forget!

Creating Memories That Will Stand the Test of Time

“Sometimes you will never know the value of something, until it becomes a memory.” ? Dr. Seuss

Our lives are filled with precious moments. It’s filled with memories such as cuddling with our children as we read them a bedtime story, going home for Christmas andparticipating in family holiday traditions, driving the car with our mother or father for the first time, going away for summer camp or even buying our first house. Our lives are also filled with less pleasant, but necessary activities, such as spending time away from our family and friends to earn our living by working. Since work is such an important part of our lives, it’s easy to get wrapped up in this and even mundane tasks such as cleaning our homes or buying “things.” Soon, these other activities take centre stage; somehow we get distracted, and forget to live our lives while we are alive.

No matter how long anyone lives, it’s not long enough. Life is short, too short. Before we know it, time passes, and suddenly we are twenty or thirty years older. Our children are grown and have moved far away to raise families of our own, and parents and other loved ones have passed on. Now, they are no longer available for us to give them that one last hug or ask them for one last bit of advice. Eventually, we are all left on our own, alone.

This is why it is so important to make an effort to not get wound up in things that aren’t really important in the long run. Take time, each day, to really focus on the people that you love and care about. Spend time with them and do things that are fun and that each of you enjoy while all of you are still here to enjoy it. Live in the present. Enjoy life and people while they are still here.

While you are at it, make certain that you make the time to capture some of these wonderful memories. Take lots of photos; shoot videos, save drawings and finger paintings. Make souvenirs from some of your travels and preserve them – even if it’s just pressing and drying a beautiful, vibrant flower that you discover in your own backyard with your child.

If you have a special photo of a great moment that you would like to preserve in a more permanent way, we can help. Here at Etched In Memories we specialise in turning your most memorable events into more permanent treasures. With our unique process, we can take your favorite photos and etch them into your choice of metal. Who wouldn’t appreciate jewellery that is as much an original piece of art as it is a beautiful adornment? Over time, these preserved memories can be passed down to future generations as treasured family heirlooms.

Contact us today to find out how we can help you preserve the best moments in your life and the lives of your loved ones.

New Apps For Storing Your Photos

You’ve got so many digital photos you’re not exactly sure where they all are, much less feel confident that they are stored safely enough if you lose your phone or your PC or Mac crashes.

Thankfully, technology has provided you with a safety net, and there are a number of apps available that enable you to upload your photos offsite and online, so you always have a backup.

Some apps, such as iCloud and Loom are compatible only with Apple products (iPad, iPhone, Mac etc) although Loom is also accessible on the web. Both allow you to upload from your device and offer a photo stream, with the iCloud also allowing for sharing on social networks as well as having a print service attached if you are so inclined.

Apple products as well as android devices have access to services like Google +, Flickr, Dropbox, Skydrive, Picturelife and SmugMug.

Apps like Flickr, are more suited to photo sharing and viewing, where Dropbox is great for photo storage and keeping your photos safe in case of fire or theft of your device or desktop.

Dropbox also enables you to share your files and folders with others, but does not publish your photos to the web. You can, however, share your photos on social media networks from Dropbox. All these options also work effectively on the web, and with Windows software on your PC.

Choosing the best app for your photo storage really depends on what your requirements are; for safe, external storage and sorting of your images, or to share with family and friends interstate and oversees.

All options are relatively affordable, depending on how many photos you need to store and/or want to display online.

Whichever route you choose to take, I definitely recommend that you make sure they’re backed up somewhere safe so you don’t lose these precious memories forever.

Memories, Photos And Dreams

Captured memories
stare back at me
from the pictures in this book
happy smiles
set against blue skies
vacations taken when we were young
the dreams of childhood
forgotten for awhile
then remembered with a rueful smile
I wanted to be an astronaut
a dancer
a fireman
an actress of the first order
my name in lights
my feet on the stage
easy life
but, those were just childish dreams
never worked for
never realized
but tucked away
here in my book of
and dreams

by Carra Wilmoth

Surround Yourself With Photos

Last year we talked about the importance of bringing your images to life, not leaving them to wither as digital images.  It’s still something that I often see.

We are blessed with the technology and opportunity to capture virtually every important moment in our lives – and we do it.  The amount of images in MB we all have stored on our phones, iPods or computers is enormous.

Yet when was the last time you stopped to look through those images? In many cases I would guess that you have not looked at them ever. Am I right?

Why aren’t we surrounding ourselves with photos? It’s so easy to do. I’ve come up with some ideas for you so that you can use those special photos in a way that you’ll enjoy.

Snapfish will make you a photo album filled with your chosen images or put your child’s face onto a mug. They also have a new Glass Print which looks really exciting.

On Etsy you can have your favourite photo turned into a piece of canvas wall art with words. Isn’t this a lovely way to remember your wedding vows?

PhotoWow can turn your photos into pop art to hang on your wall. They certainly make a style statement, don’t they?

Fotorama will take your photos and turn them into wall collages for you.  These are a great idea especially if you have a series of photos that belong together.  They really tell the story for you.

With all these options available to you, don’t leave your special photos hidden away in the digital world.  Display them and enjoy them.