Freedom to Grieve

Protecting grief from "closure," consumerism, politics, and other cultural distortions

Selling Cremation Jewelry

Businesses exploit grief and make false promises to sell cremation jewelry.

Longing to remember a loved one and to keep that person's spirit and memories close is nothing new. For generations we have been finding ways to memorialize people. The idea is that if you carry someone in your heart and memory, then you can retain part of the bond you had in life. There are many ways people learn to carry loved ones in their hearts and minds, but the memorialization industry is counting on us to think we need to spend money to in order to properly remember.

Keepsake jewelry is a booming business aimed at those who are grieving and not wanting to let go of a loved one. Wearing jewelry to remember a dead loved one is not just a contemporary ritual. "Mourning rings" were popular with people many centuries ago. Once again we are seeing a resurgence in the availability of memorial jewelry. But a new component that is growing in the grief industry is the claim that people can find more "closure" and comfort by carrying an actual physical part of a loved one.    

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You can find a wide range of "cremation jewelry" designed for carrying ashes of humans or pets. The business Perfect Memorials sells "Hold My Heart Stainless Steel Cremation Jewelry" or "Cylinder Memorial Jewelry." Cremation Jewelry.com tells people they "can find closure with cremation jewelry." They explain,

"The aim of cremation jewelry is simple, to allow you to carry some of your family member with you no matter where you go so that you feel that they are always with you or watching over you. This can be helpful as you can rest assured that they are not missing a moment of your life, even if they are not emotionally and physically present. This can bring people a large sense of closure and comfort which is why cremation jewelry has become so popular."

Jewelrykeepsakes.com sells cremation rings for $100-200. They tell people: "you can still walk hand in hand and be together with a customized memorial ring engraved with their name."

I understand why people may want to buy jewelry to remember a loved one who died. However, it is a far stretch for businesses to claim that by carrying ashes those who have died will not miss a moment of our lives. Do they really expect us to believe that wearing a cremation ring will be the same as walking hand in hand?

 

Nancy Berns is the author of Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us. To read more, go to the blog Freedom to Grieve or her personal page, www.nancyberns.com.

 

Nancy Berns, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Drake University and the author of Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us.

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