Word of The Day- Thanatology

With my work of sculpting posthumous sculpture, my study of sculpting the deceased, and the writing of the book, “Bringing to Life the Spirit of the Deceased- A Sculptor’s Journey” which I am still searching for a publisher, I cannot believe I did not come across this word.

It means the study of everything that has to do with dying, death, and grief. There is even an organization called The Center for Thanatology Research and Education Inc.

Once again I ask myself, why am I drawn to this area? For me it is a God thing. I know that creating a sculptor of a loved one can be very healing for the family. I am extremely thankful that I have a job that helps others. But even as a child I was drawn to the subject. I write about it in my book, and may even have mentioned it before. It was my job each spring to bury the baby birds that fell from the nest hidden in the rafters of our old Victorian home. I was the only 5 year old that I know that had their own baby bird cemetery. It is an uncontrollable desire to give credence to a life lived, to somehow establish a physical existence that others can see and say, “Who was this person?”

here is a portion from the book, “I have always been intrigued with the story that I heard about elephants, marveling at the bones of their ancestors that they never knew. I remember seeing an elephant documentary that said that elephants that came across bones of their ancestors would pick them up and caress them, passing them from one to another in a respectful but mourning ritual. By doing so, it helped them come to terms with death. I feel that this action, this simple action by a wonderful and majestic creature is what I feel when I create posthumous portraiture. When the box of personal affects comes to my studio and I examine its contents, from that day forward until the day that the sculpture is complete, I have spent time lovingly caressing the life that I have had the pleasure of being introduced to. I turn that life over and over in my hands and in my heart as lovingly as those majestic elephants did with the bones of their ancestors. It is through this ritual and my art that my experience is enhanced and the healing process and letting go occur for my client.”

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