February 8, 2005 8:55 PM   Subscribe

White people are so... weird. Put your dead baby on the internet. Reminds me of Harlequin Baby.
posted by Dean Keaton at 9:08 PM on February 8, 2005

As much as I could break bad on something like this, I can't. Reading some of the stories are pretty heart wrenching and hey, whatever it takes to get them over the hump of horrible grief, more power to them. The internet is just another avenue for their outpouring of sorrow.

Sure, the graphics are tacky and there a lot of Jesus talk but I'm sure they could care less what we think.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:13 PM on February 8, 2005

Hot damn, some of them kids got me thinkin bout the Bottom of Heaven! And what DK said. I should know.

On the other hand, the whole goopy heaven tribute is probably the only thing keeping these moms from suicide.

So, yes Margaret, you will indeed see your departed Angel in a gaudily-framed puffy cloudbank, wearing all manner of nylon costumery. You too will croak--probably of natural causes--even before you can imagine it! So just stick it out!
---Your pal, God.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:16 PM on February 8, 2005

So, are we making fun of greiving people? I don't get it.

iamck; did you find this stuff because you recently lost a loved one?

Ok, wait, this may be kind of funny, but it's the kind of funny that makes me feel like shit. One step up would be bagging on Retards, the disabled and dead people. Oh wait that's what your doing.
posted by snsranch at 9:22 PM on February 8, 2005

How shall I speak of Doom, and ours in special, But as of something altogether common - Donald Justice

Not everyone can pour their grief into slick, well-crafted creations. Is there nothing off-limits to our sense of superiority?
posted by missbossy at 9:27 PM on February 8, 2005

snsranch - a friend came across it randomly on a google image search, and linked me to it. i just found it horrifically sad and strange...
posted by iamck at 9:32 PM on February 8, 2005

posted by delmoi at 9:40 PM on February 8, 2005

i just found it horrifically sad and strange...

Not trying to jump on you iamck so please hear me out. It is sad and most certainly "strange" but in times of grief, people do things that seem strange to us. To them, it is an opportunity to immortalize a loved one. Whether it's on the internet or in the form of a pile of flowers and a cross in some ditch, who are we to determine how one deals with their grief?

Again, not trying to snark, just trying to see how this is so strange.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:42 PM on February 8, 2005

That's beautiful.

In a perfect world everybody would have a such grand sites devoted to them at their death. Some of them easily cross the line from public memorial to individual gesture.
posted by nixerman at 9:47 PM on February 8, 2005

I have a strange and morbid sense of humor myself, but these just make me feel sad for the parents who lost their children. Sure, "Heaven is Great" may seem a little strange, but maybe for that guy it's the sort of tribute that would be appropriate.

One time I was writing something and need to find a quote. Somehow Google spat me out onto a strange, MIDI-ful page with lots of animated angels and babies, which was all about this poor woman who had to suffer through a divorce and at least four miscarriages. My yuks at some goofy HTML were very easily erased in favor of just respecting her need to express her grief and hope.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:58 PM on February 8, 2005

There is nothing special about death, it is going to come to all of us in time, and the dead outnumber the living nine to one (or so I'm told). Even so we still grieve, and the death of children hits parents especially hard. It is also unremarkable that many people have bad taste (crying clowns and Elvis painted on black velvet anyone?). Put the two together and this is the result.

It's still not seemly to laugh.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 10:01 PM on February 8, 2005

Wow.. that was, depressing..
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:21 PM on February 8, 2005

Man, that was depressing.
posted by Quartermass at 10:26 PM on February 8, 2005

Wow. You really do get a sense of the enormity of their grief.

I wonder how long the site owners will keep them up. Will they update them, or preserve them unchanged as a memorial? If the site owners keep these sites up until they themselves die, will the site be passed along to family?

At some point grief turns into history: I grieve for my grandmother who died recently, and she I'm sure grieved for her mother -- but I've never grieved for my great-grandmother, because I never knew her.

Any physical remembrance -- a family Bible, a photo -- of her mother that might have brought emotion to my grandmother, would for me be only interesting as family history.

And even more so the father we go back: I'd be incensed if my grandfather had suffered in the Bataan Death March (he didn't), but would I take it personally if I knew a great-great-grandfather had been subject to atrocity at Confederate hands at Andersonville Prison?

And I definitely don't mourn the near certainties that my Irish ancestors were starved by Scottish landlords, or that my Scottish ancestors were , or that my English ancestors were raped by Vikings. Hell, I dated a descendent of Vikings. Nor do I see any real need to memorialize those ancestors -- at twenty generations ago, I have (mathematically and foolishly assuming no inbreeding) over a million ancestors, after all.

So if these sites, commemorating lives lost, are passed along after the site creators themselves die, to their families, will the inheritors continue to pay Go-Daddy $7.95 a year to keep them up? At that point, the new owners will likely be nieces or grand-nephews who have reached an age many years older than the children memorialized ever attained. When they are fifty or seventy or ninety, what will they think of the site that keeps alive the memory of a great-uncle they never knew?

Who will visit the site a hundred years hence, and what will they hear in the echos of ancient grief?
posted by orthogonality at 10:28 PM on February 8, 2005

'who are we to determine how one deals with their grief?"
Some folks, when confronted with death and mortality, deal with it by making jokes. It's a very human reaction. Not always welcome but common.

posted by arse_hat at 10:38 PM on February 8, 2005

Also, they are heartfelt and sad.
posted by arse_hat at 10:46 PM on February 8, 2005

Quinbus Flestrin, not sure how you determined that these sites exhibit "bad taste." They're not selling a product. The pseudo-minimalist, capitalist-chic that's taken over so much of the web these days is ruthlessly ignored here--for a reason. For most of these sites the designs server their purpose very well, I think.

orthogonality, I was thinking along slightly different lines. I don't think these sites will stick around forever. Perhaps for a generation or two, but not much longer. You find these memorials (or monuments?) to the recently deceased (previous two generations or so) in many culture and they're rarely meant to last forever.
posted by nixerman at 10:47 PM on February 8, 2005

It's like my tear ducts are in a vice.

(a side note: I've finally found a use for country music in my life: to accompany reading these wrenching stories to make my sadness utterly complete)

If I ever find out that someone has put up a tribute to me, like these, after I die, I'm going to come back as a zombie and munch their spicy brains.
posted by zerokey at 10:59 PM on February 8, 2005

I'm sorry for their loss, and yes it's sad.

But come on, this is intriguing, like outsider art. I'm glad I saw it, and I had no idea this kind of thing existed like this. The floating family heads? Fascinating. What compelled them to do that? The girl with wings? Amazing. "Heaven is great." I would never have thought to do this if my own child died.

I mean, death is a part of life. Are we not allowed to examine it?
posted by fungible at 11:02 PM on February 8, 2005

"If I ever find out that someone has put up a tribute to me, like these, after I die, I'm going to come back as a zombie and munch their spicy brains." Seconded. This, or one of those hi-way flower things.
posted by arse_hat at 11:06 PM on February 8, 2005

Personally, what I think is funny about all this (or at the very least strange) is that it's not just an online memorial, but a TopSites. The Memorials are ranked by hits. It's a bizarre post-mortem popularity contest.

It's like comparing how loudly people applaud different dead celebrities at the Oscars.
posted by StopMakingSense at 12:11 AM on February 9, 2005

Thanks for ruining my morning.
posted by Harry at 2:16 AM on February 9, 2005

I spent only about 30 seconds going thought the list of "friends" websites. I wasn't surprised at all at what I saw.

I lost my oldest son when he was 20 years old. Motorcycle accident, he wasn't at fault. And, although I've found other ways (sort of) to deal with this, I went through the same type of process. I probably would have done something similar but this was pre-personal web pages.

Anyone who loses a child has to find a way to cope with it. Walk through any cemetery and note the displays of toys, keepsakes, and etc. that you see at graves (if the cemetery allows this). Usually these will be the graves of children.

I think there is a need to express to the world the significance of this death, to make sure that the world doesn't forget a person that, in your own eyes, was the most important person ever! Also...a fear, perhaps, that even you will forget your own child (my wife went through some terror when she couldn't, briefly, remember what my son's voice sounded like.)

As you go through these web pages, keep in mind that you will NEVER be able to understand the depth of this, or the obscure meanings of the expression of grief.

Cut these folks some slack, they are doing the best they know how in what is probably a pretty healthy expression of grief.
posted by HuronBob at 5:18 AM on February 9, 2005

I did a site for a friend whose son committed suicide. Every year, we go and do little updates, add another poem.

It's not forgotten. He does keep up with him. It keeps him close. I'm glad I can be a part of the process.
posted by quibx at 6:15 AM on February 9, 2005

Thank you for that perspective, HuronBob.

Peace to you and your family.
posted by raedyn at 6:19 AM on February 9, 2005

Coming in late ... we talked about this once before, a long time ago not a db callout by any means. I find it interesting how the conversation then echoes and illumates the comments on this now.
posted by anastasiav at 6:39 AM on February 9, 2005

The internet gives people a place to express themselves, to create a space others might visit. I am really glad that these people are finding each other. What we are seeing are first attempt to communicate with the cyber world, and first attempts are always bit awkward.

Now the people who market nightlights and angel products, they're fair game. The whole angel business-- precious moments, angel nightlights-- seems pretty preditory to me.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:21 AM on February 9, 2005

White people are so... weird.

Why is DK getting a pass here? Replace "white" with ANY other ethnic or minority group and The Blue would be all over him. Racist remarks are not cool, I'm pretty disappointed no one else seems to object to this sort of talk. Dean, please, you need to secure that shit. And how comfortable are you in your own skin to take as your account name a white character portrayed by an Irish actor?
posted by Scoo at 7:40 AM on February 9, 2005

Oh please... these people are sick. Time to let go, folks. Please, if I die, please don't do this to me!
posted by WaterSprite at 7:59 AM on February 9, 2005's not "if", it's "when"...and, we promise to just forget you...

in fact...i may have already forgotten...

You spent $5 for this shiny new MeTa membership to make THAT contribution?
posted by HuronBob at 8:06 AM on February 9, 2005

. . . and the tacky audio on nearly every page (iamck didn't note that.)
posted by DBAPaul at 8:29 AM on February 9, 2005

yawn. I stand by my opinion. I am not sorry if I offended anyone. I feel it is perfectly natural to mourn for someones loss when they die and people should respect it. Putting up a cheesy HTML site along with a ranking site is inane and very, very weird. Not just weird but obtusely surreal.

Now, putting toys or cigarettes or what-have-you at a gravesite is fine with me personally. When I die, I hope nobody makes a website with some pictures of me superimposed next to Jesus with wings on my back and "We are the champions" MIDI playing softly in the background, being checked on everyday to see if it will hit rank #1 in the 250 top dead person sites of the week.

HuronBob, I am sorry for your great loss.
posted by Dean Keaton at 8:57 AM on February 9, 2005

I'm responsible for a site very similar to these (self link). In 2000, my brother was killed by a pickup truck while walking to school (The driver had gone blind in one eye following a surgery, without bothering to consider the affect it would have on his driving).

I can echo what others have implied, and add that this site has been a huge help to my parents, who were able to communicate directly through the guestbook with not only our local community, but a community called the 'Compassionate Friends' - a network of other bereaved parents. I didn't click all the links in the FPP, but I'd imagine many of them are somehow related to TCF.

That said, I can appreciate the cringeworthiness of the HTML, and the folk-art appeal, but have trouble finding the humor.
posted by adamkempa at 9:03 AM on February 9, 2005

Couple things...first, why is this any "weirder" or "stranger" than keeping a picture on the wall in the living room? Art is in the eye of the beholder, and this could well be the next wave in the ever-evolving human need to process and come to peace with Those Really Big Facts of Life That We Don't Have Any Control Over (under titles like "Religion" and "War" in the encyclopedia of your choice). This technology is available today, it makes me wonder what will be available in another 25, 30, 50 years.

Second, at a more visceral level, I became a parent rather late in life (44). Up until then, I prided myself on finding people in general, up to and including my mother (whom I adored), to be somewhat "disposable." Death comes to us all...bummer. But, after two incredible years with my son, watching him grow and learn and holding my breath as he took his first schlep across the living room floor a deux...I live with a daily fear of losing him. So much depends on stupid, dumb luck that we get to rejoin the family circle at the end of the day. I can understand the grief these losses created because it is my biggest fear. That might be something that one must be a parent to truly understand. The esoteric idea of loss is absolutely insignificant compared to the gut-wrenching reality that it could be your beloved child.

Whatever keeps them within your heart and mind and gives you the strength to wake up tomorrow morning is a good thing. They are sometimes cheesy but nonetheless heartfelt and, through the eyes of a parent, I can see that.
posted by Griffins_posse at 9:06 AM on February 9, 2005

I wonder how long the site owners will keep them up. Will they update them, or preserve them unchanged as a memorial? If the site owners keep these sites up until they themselves die, will the site be passed along to family?

I have these same questions about graveyards. How many years pass before everyone who was alive at the time of your death is also dead? How many generations before you are entirely forgotten? How many years before the graveyard itself is forgotten, perhaps moved or built over? When you are dead does it matter if your gravestone lasts a hundred years, a thousand, ten thousand?

I vote for cremation and remembrance in the heart of those I leave behind.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:11 AM on February 9, 2005

But come on, this is intriguing, like outsider art.

I was prepared to think so, but upon actually reading some of these, I see that enormous suffering and loss really come through. I'm very close to tears sitting here at my desk. If I weren't at work, I'd be letting it out. I understand the need to do something like this. When I had my cat put to sleep a few months ago, I bought several picture frames to put his photos in. My best friend's father died last week and she put together a nice collage of pictures for the visitation. It feels good to memorialize the dead. It's something we can do to feel less powerless. Maybe looking in from the outside, these websites seem overly sentimental or tacky, but when you're in the depths of the kind of pain these families are in--nothing could be less relevant than hipness.
Same thing with the floral wreaths and crosses on highways. In my less charitable moments, I've thought they were gaudy. But Jesus, whoever puts those up must be in the worst kind of emotional hell.

"mercy, I think, doesn't the human race
know anything about mercy?" Charles Bukowski
posted by apis mellifera at 9:35 AM on February 9, 2005


DK is getting a 'pass' because it's a riff on an old Eddie Murphy joke (try the "horror movie" bit here:, among others)
posted by Irontom at 9:54 AM on February 9, 2005

I'd rather be immortalized in a video game.

Then again, I'm not entirely certain there's a huge market out there for "Get the lab techy a soda from the breakroom before he dies of congestive heart-failure" genre games.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:45 AM on February 9, 2005

I agree with those who see this as no stranger than a public roadside memorial. The internet has become as much a part of the common public space as the side of a highway or a community bulletin board. It makes sense that these sort of tributes are showing up in greater numbers.
posted by LeeJay at 1:24 PM on February 9, 2005

I also have a site similar to these, disguised in a blog format. My sister was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2002, just six months after she turned 18. It was a huge help for my family to be able to talk about her and share stories with each other, a family that doesn't talk much about emotions. The site is not for her, it's for us. For my mother.

Though I do have to admit that rating these sites and competing for a 'best of' is pretty damn creepy. I have never wanted to get any recognition for the site outside of our circle of family and friends.
posted by rhapsodie at 2:55 PM on February 9, 2005

Grief sometimes get expressed in strange ways, but that doesn't make it any less sincere. These sites may be cheesy but would you prefer jewelry made from the dead person's hair? Or how about a bottle of widow's tears? (newbie pleads "please don't jump all over me - it took me about an hour to find directions for posting a link with a cool yellow title instead of the whole http:// thing - no way could I figure out how to point y'all about halfway down that first page. Just scroll w/o slamming me, OK?")
posted by Quietgal at 7:34 PM on February 9, 2005

gets, I mean ...
posted by Quietgal at 7:38 PM on February 9, 2005

Let's be clear: My beef is not really with what the sites themselves mean, its the fact they are competing on a ranking page.
posted by Dean Keaton at 8:50 PM on February 9, 2005

Dean... I would gently suggest that, unless you've experienced this, you probably aren't ever going to be able to understand what the dynamics are for these individuals. If participating in this competition brings them some solace, so be it, it isn't for anyone to judge.

and, thanks for the comment...
posted by HuronBob at 6:01 AM on February 10, 2005

« Older hooray for america   |   shoot this, piano player!! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments