My thoughts on Malady and Mortality 2013

Hi, friends.

I hope this post finds you well. I must warn you before I begin, this could end up being two posts. There were so many interesting speakers and subjects, some of which I’d never even considered. Amongst the areas discussed were:

  • Depictions of grief and funerals in British dark comedy
  • Memorialisation after stillbirth and neonatal death
  • Grief, mourning and contemporary photography
  • Why we imagine the dead as angels…

and so much more.

The talks highlighted above were some that I found most intriguing. For me, the conference also gave an opportunity to meet Professor Tony Walter of the Centre for Death and Society at Bath University. I corresponded with him last year on the subject of online mourning, and he pointed me in the direction of many interesting resources and well-informed persons with whom I have also been in contact. He spoke on what he believes to be the rationale for the growing trend towards imagining the dead as angels.

Academics Montse Morcate and Rebeca Pardo from the University of Barcelona discussed photography prior to death, immediately after the death has occurred, and later as a tool in the grieving process. Morcate’s project involves a website called Querido Epitafio (literally ‘Dear Epitaph’) where users are invited to submit their ideal epitaph pre-mortem. Although I have not yet thought about doing this, I find the idea fascinating. As you might expect, the site is entirely in Spanish, which limits the audience somewhat. However, the content and premise are interesting.

Another gift of which academics are possessed is the ability to arouse interest in almost any topic, no matter how niche it may seem. Dr. Steven Wilson, a French lecturer at Queens University, Belfast spoke on the autopathography (like an autobiography, but rather than an account of a life, it is primarily an account of illness) of Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897). He suffered from syphilis, and although he went on to father two children, the disease progressed and claimed his life. It doesn’t sound pleasant, but Wilson’s talk made the text peculiarly alluring.

I am already approaching the optimum length of my blog posts, so I will conclude here. I will write another post next Thursday on the subject.

Wishing you peace and strength on your journeys,



About Casey Bottono

I am in love with language. I write poetry and fiction in a wide variety of genres. Most recently, I have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities' Pen2Paper contest.
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5 Responses to My thoughts on Malady and Mortality 2013

  1. catecumen says:

    I don’t think I have ever seen the word “autopathography” before.

    I look forward to your next post.

  2. Susan says:


    Ace piece – keep up the great work you do at @caseybcyberloss

    Best wishes


    Susan Morris, Trustee
    The Natural Death Centre Charity, Association of Natural Burial Grounds
    Registered Charity No: 1091396 @ndccharity
    The Natural Death Centre is an educational charity which sees death as a natural part of life. Founded in 1991, it is committed to supporting cultural change and is working towards a situation where all people are empowered in the process of dying, and organising a funeral. Last year alone the NDC received over 40,000 phone calls /emails to its helpline; over 140,000 new web visitors.

  3. Helen Thomas says:

    Hi Casey,
    I’m amazed to see that you’ve written such a succinct a review already! Thank you so much for coming to the conference. It was lovely to have you there. I hope it has inspired and encouraged you. Best wishes – Helen

    • Casey B says:

      Thank you, Helen.

      I shall be writing more in due course, but there are a few quotes for which I need to verify the sources yet. The talks about photography sparked thoughts of the significance for those of us who have experienced this non-standard form of loss.

      Take care,


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