Linda Levitt 2023

Stephen F. Austin State University

Cremation niches inspire creative means of commemoration [v]

Cremation has been a more frequent choice than burial in the United States since 2015, moving toward a decade of transforming funeral traditions. The growing popularity of cremation niches attests to the change in cultural memory as commemoration moves from official declarations to personal, narrative, and multifaceted memories. The inclusion of objects, photographs, and brief documents in a niche creates a sense of a person’s life in a complex, rich way that is not available on a gravestone. For example, the ashes of actor David White, who portrayed Larry Tate on the television comedy ‘Bewitched’, are placed in a niche at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. A list of his film and television credits and a bronze bust share the small niche with photographs of Tate with his son Jonathan, who was killed in the 1998 terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103. Through these artifacts, visitors are able to know David White as more than just the roles he played on television and film. This project considers the possibilities for cremation niches to inspire and normalize creative forms of commemoration for anyone seeking to remember a loved one in an unusual manner.


The Cemetery Research Group runs two events a year: in May and in November. Follow the links and send in an abstract