So-called "mourning t-shirts" are still another recent DIY method of honoring the dead. Cann said the t-shirts are a kind of update of the memorial cards long used in Catholic funeral services.
"Like those cards, the t-shirts will have a picture of the person who died, and their birth date and death date, and maybe a prayer," Cann said. "There are a couple of theories on those -- some think they originated in L.A. gang culture. But I've also seen them circling back to these Catholic enclaves, where they hand out these t-shirts instead of the memorial cards."
Cann said a much, much older method of honoring the dead has come back around in a new form in recent years -- the tattoo tribute. "This goes all the way back to the Bible," Cann said. "There's a warning in Leviticus about not cutting your flesh for mourning. So this been around for thousands of years."
What's new about tattoo tributes these days is that the tattoo artists themselves often act as grief counselors. "This is fascinating to me," Cann said. "These people who get these certain kinds of tattoo tributes done, they often have no place else to go, no one else to talk about their mourning. You're sitting there for hours with this person, you're sharing the story behind the tattoo. It's a deeply personal experience."