Volume 26, Issue 4
  • ISSN 1384-6655
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9811
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



This paper reports on study of online COVID-19 memorials posted during 2020 to the Church of England website https://www.rememberme2020.uk/. The paper employs a Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies (CADS) approach to analyse networks of co-occurring linguistic items (types and lemmata) and patterns (ngrams) within online memorials, and examines how these frequent items/patterns exist within networked discourses that underpin an overarching bereavement discourse. The analysis finds that bereavement discourse is underpinned by frequent reference to love, relationships and relational identification, time and temporality, loss/absence, and memory, as well as metaphors based on and image schema. An analysis of these metaphorical representations of death and bereavement suggest that online memorials serve as a space for the social practice of bereavement and shows how the language used to grieve attempts to ideologically (re)present the relationships between the bereaved and decedent. All code used in this paper can be found at https://osf.io/khcj2/.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alali, A. O.
    (1994) The disposition of Aids imagery in New York Times’ Obituaries. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying, 29(4), 273–289. 10.2190/1FBK‑XP6M‑VP75‑X2PT
    https://doi.org/10.2190/1FBK-XP6M-VP75-X2PT [Google Scholar]
  2. Anderson, K. A., & Han, J.
    (2008) An exploration of ageism and sexism in obituary photographs: 1967–1997. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying, 58, 335–45. 10.2190/OM.58.4.e
    https://doi.org/10.2190/OM.58.4.e [Google Scholar]
  3. Baker, P.
    (2006) Using Corpora in Discourse Analysis. Continuum. 10.5040/9781350933996
    https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350933996 [Google Scholar]
  4. (2014) Using Corpora to Analyze Gender. Bloomsbury.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. (2016) The shapes of collocation. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 21(2), 139–164. 10.1075/ijcl.21.2.01bak
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.21.2.01bak [Google Scholar]
  6. Baker, P., Gabrielatos, C., KhosraviNik, M., Krzyżanowski, M., McEnery, T., & Wodak, R.
    (2008) A useful methodological synergy? Combining critical discourse analysis and corpus linguistics to examine discourses of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK press. Discourse & Society, 19(3), 273–306. 10.1177/0957926508088962
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926508088962 [Google Scholar]
  7. Baker, P., & McEnery, T.
    (2015) Corpora and Discourse Studies. Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9781137431738
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137431738 [Google Scholar]
  8. Baker, P., & McGlashan, M.
    (2020) Critical Discourse Analysis. InS. Adolphs & D. Knight (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of English Language and the Digital Humanities (pp.220–241). Routledge. 10.4324/9781003031758‑13
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003031758-13 [Google Scholar]
  9. Bell, J., Bailey, L., & Kennedy, D.
    (2015) ‘We do it to keep him alive’: Bereaved individuals’ experiences of online suicide memorials and continuing bonds. Mortality, 20(4), 375–389. 10.1080/13576275.2015.1083693
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13576275.2015.1083693 [Google Scholar]
  10. Benoit, K., Watanabe, K., Wang, H., Nulty, P., Obeng, A., Müller, S., & Matsuo, A.
    (2018) quanteda: An R package for the quantitative analysis of textual data. Journal of Open Source Software, 3(30), 774. 10.21105/joss.00774
    https://doi.org/10.21105/joss.00774 [Google Scholar]
  11. Bonsu, S.
    (2007) The presentation of dead selves in everyday life: Obituaries and impression management. Symbolic Interaction, 30(2), 199–219. 10.1525/si.2007.30.2.199
    https://doi.org/10.1525/si.2007.30.2.199 [Google Scholar]
  12. Brezina, A., McEnery, T., & Wattam, S.
    (2015) Collocations in context: A new perspective on collocation networks. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 20(2), 139–73. 10.1075/ijcl.20.2.01bre
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ijcl.20.2.01bre [Google Scholar]
  13. Brookes, G., & McEnery, T.
    (2020) Correlation, collocation and cohesion: A corpus-based critical analysis of violent jihadist discourse. Discourse & Society, 31(4), 351–373. 10.1177/0957926520903528
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926520903528 [Google Scholar]
  14. Charteris-Black, J.
    (2006) Britain as a container: Immigration metaphors in the 2005 election campaign. Discourse & Society, 17(5), 563–581. 10.1177/0957926506066345
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926506066345 [Google Scholar]
  15. Crespo-Fernández, E.
    (2006) The language of death: Euphemisms and conceptual metaphorization in Victorian obituaries. SKY Journal of Linguistics, 19, 101–130.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. (2007) Linguistic devices coping with death in Victorian obituaries. Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses, 20, 7–21. 10.14198/raei.2007.20.01
    https://doi.org/10.14198/raei.2007.20.01 [Google Scholar]
  17. (2011) Euphemistic conceptual metaphors in epitaphs from Highgate Cemetary. Review of Cognitive Linguistics, 9, 198–225. 10.1075/rcl.9.1.10cre
    https://doi.org/10.1075/rcl.9.1.10cre [Google Scholar]
  18. (2013) Euphemistic metaphors in English and Spanish epitaphs: A comparative study. ATLANTIS Journal of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies, 35(2), 99–118.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Davis, C. S., Quinlan, M. M., & Baker, D. K.
    (2016) Constructing the dead: Retrospective sensemaking in eulogies. Death Studies, 40(5), 316–328. 10.1080/07481187.2016.1141261
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2016.1141261 [Google Scholar]
  20. de Vries, B., & Rutherford, J.
    (2004) Memorializing loved ones on the World Wide Web. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying, 49(1), 5–26. 10.2190/DR46‑RU57‑UY6P‑NEWM
    https://doi.org/10.2190/DR46-RU57-UY6P-NEWM [Google Scholar]
  21. DeGroot, J. M.
    (2014) “For whom the bell tolls”: Emotional rubbernecking in Facebook memorial groups. Death Studies, 38(2), 79–84. 10.1080/07481187.2012.725450
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2012.725450 [Google Scholar]
  22. Dennis, M. R., & Kunkel, A. D.
    (2004) Fallen heroes, lifted hearts: Consolation in contemporary presidential eulogia. Death Studies, 28(8), 703–731. 10.1080/07481180490483373
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07481180490483373 [Google Scholar]
  23. Doka, K. L.
    (1987) Silent sorrow: Grief and the loss of significant others. Death Studies, 11(6), 455–469. 10.1080/07481188708252210
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07481188708252210 [Google Scholar]
  24. Ergin, M.
    (2012) Religiosity and the construction of death in Turkish death announcements, 1970–2009. Death Studies, 36(3), 270–291. 10.1080/07481187.2011.553339
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2011.553339 [Google Scholar]
  25. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
    European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (2021) Data on 14-day notification rate of new COVID-19 cases and deaths. RetrievedMay 27, 2021, fromhttps://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/publications-data/data-national-14-day-notification-rate-covid-19
  26. Fairclough, N.
    (2003) Analysing Discourse: Textual Analysis for Social Research. Routledge. 10.4324/9780203697078
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203697078 [Google Scholar]
  27. Flowerdew, L.
    (2014) Corpus-based discourse analysis. InJ. P. Gee & M. Handford (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Discourse Analysis (pp.174–187). Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Fries, U.
    (1990) Two hundred years of English death notices. InM. Bridges (Ed.), On Strangeness (pp.57–71). Gunter Naar.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Gabrielatos, C. [Google Scholar]
  30. Giaxoglou, K.
    (2015) ‘Everywhere I go, you’re going with me’: Time and space deixis as affective positioning resources in shared moments of digital mourning. Discourse, Context & Media, 9, 55–63. 10.1016/j.dcm.2015.06.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcm.2015.06.004 [Google Scholar]
  31. Harvey, J. H.
    (1996) Embracing the Memory: Loss and the Social Psychology of Storytelling. Allyn & Bacon.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Heynderickx, P. C., & Dieltjens, S. M.
    (2016) An analysis of obituaries in staff magazines. Death Studies, 40(1), 11–21. 10.1080/07481187.2015.1056562
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2015.1056562 [Google Scholar]
  33. Hirji, S., Hirji, A., & Lakasing, E.
    (2020) The Impact of COVID-19 on Islamic Burial Rites. Geriatric Medicine Journal. RetrievedSeptember 10, 2021, fromhttps://www.gmjournal.co.uk/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-islamic-burial-rites
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Jones, S.
    (2004) 404 not found: The internet and the afterlife. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying, 48(1), 83–88. 10.2190/8UUF‑GLEG‑X6T5‑UNJM
    https://doi.org/10.2190/8UUF-GLEG-X6T5-UNJM [Google Scholar]
  35. Kaplan, D.
    (2021) Public intimacy in social media: The mass audience as a third party. Media, Culture & Society, 43(4), 595–612. 10.1177/0163443721991087
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443721991087 [Google Scholar]
  36. Kunkel, A. D., & Dennis, M. R.
    (2003) Grief consolation in eulogy rhetoric: An integrative framework. Death Studies, 27, 1–38. 10.1080/07481180302872
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07481180302872 [Google Scholar]
  37. Lakoff, G.
    (1993) The contemporary theory of metaphor. InA. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor and Thought (2nd ed.; pp.202–251). Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9781139173865.013
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139173865.013 [Google Scholar]
  38. Lingel, J.
    (2013) The digital remains: Social media and practices of online grief. The Information Society, 29(3), 190–195. 10.1080/01972243.2013.777311
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01972243.2013.777311 [Google Scholar]
  39. Marchi, A., & Taylor, C.
    (2018) Introduction: Partiality and reflexivity. InC. Taylor & A. Marchi (Eds.), Corpus Approaches to Discourse: A Critical Review (pp.1–15). Routledge. 10.4324/9781315179346‑1
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315179346-1 [Google Scholar]
  40. McEnery, T., & Hardie, A.
    (2012) Corpus Linguistics: Method, Theory and Practice. Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. McEnery, T., Xiao, R., & Tono, Y.
    (2006) Corpus-Based Language Studies: An Advanced Resource Book. Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Meyrowitz, J.
    (1994) The life and death of media friends: New genres of intimacy and mourning. InR. Cathcart & S. Drucker (Eds.), American Heroes in the Media Age (pp.62–81). Hampton Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Neimeyer, R. A.
    (1998) Lessons of Loss: A Guide to Coping. McGraw-Hill.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Neimeyer, R. A., Klass, D., & Dennis, M. R.
    (2014) A social constructionist account of grief: loss and the narration of meaning. Death Studies, 38(8), 485–498. 10.1080/07481187.2014.913454
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2014.913454 [Google Scholar]
  45. Neimeyer, R. A., Prigerson, H. G., & Davies, B.
    (2002) Mourning and meaning. American Behavioral Scientist, 46(2), pp.235–51. 10.1177/000276402236676
    https://doi.org/10.1177/000276402236676 [Google Scholar]
  46. Partington, A.
    (2004) Corpora and discourse, a most congruous beast. InA. Partington, J. Morley, & L. Haarman (Eds.), Corpora and Discourse (pp.11–20). Peter Lang.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Philip, G.
    (2017) Conventional and novel metaphors in language. InE. Semino & Z. Demjén (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaphor and Language (pp.219–232). Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Phillips, J. B.
    (2007) The changing presentation of death in the obituary, 1899–1999. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying, 55(4), 325–346. 10.2190/OM.55.4.g
    https://doi.org/10.2190/OM.55.4.g [Google Scholar]
  49. R Core Team
    R Core Team (2020) R: A language and environment for statistical computing (Version 4.0.1.) [Computer software]. R Foundation for Statistical Computing. www.R-project.org/
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Refslund Christensen, D., & Gotved, S.
    (2015) Online memorial culture: An introduction. New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 21(1–2), 1–9. 10.1080/13614568.2015.988455
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13614568.2015.988455 [Google Scholar]
  51. Roberts, P.
    (2004) Here today and cyberspace tomorrow: Memorials and bereavement support on the Web. Generations: Journal of the American Society on Aging, 28(2), 41–46.
    [Google Scholar]
  52. Rodler, C. K. E., & Hölzl, E.
    (2002) Gender stereotypes of leaders: An analysis of the contents of obituaries from 1974 to 1998. Sex Roles, 45(11), 827–843. 10.1023/A:1015644520770
    https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015644520770 [Google Scholar]
  53. Roque Ramírez, H. N.
    (2010) Gay latino histories/dying to be remembered. InG. Perez, F. Guridy, & A. Burgos (Eds.), Beyond el Barrio: Everyday Life in Latina/o America (pp.103–128). New York University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  54. Sunderland, J.
    (2004) Gendered Discourses. Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9780230505582
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230505582 [Google Scholar]
  55. The New York Times
    The New York Times (2021) Those We’ve Lost. [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/obituaries/people-died-coronavirus-obituaries.html [accessed10/09/2021]
    [Google Scholar]
  56. Time Staff
    Time Staff (2021) The Lives Lost to Coronavirus. [Online] Available at: https://time.com/5814406/coronavirus-obituaries/ [accessed10/09/2021]
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Tognini-Bonelli, E.
    (2001) Corpus Linguistics at Work. John Benjamins. 10.1075/scl.6
    https://doi.org/10.1075/scl.6 [Google Scholar]
  58. van Leeuwen, T.
    (2008) Discourse and Practice: New Tools for Critical Discourse Analysis. Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195323306.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195323306.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  59. Walter, T.
    (2015) Communication media and the dead: From the stone age to Facebook. Mortality, 20(3), 215–232. 10.1080/13576275.2014.993598
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13576275.2014.993598 [Google Scholar]
  60. Wickham, H.
    (2021) rvest: Easily Harvest (Scrape) Web Pages (Version 1.0.1). [Computer software]. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=rvest
    [Google Scholar]
  61. Williams, J. E.
    (1997) Discourses on death: Obituaries and the management of spoiled identity. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying, 34(4), 301–319. 10.2190/ARM6‑MQER‑CYPV‑T3W5
    https://doi.org/10.2190/ARM6-MQER-CYPV-T3W5 [Google Scholar]
  62. (2003) Obituaries. InC. D. Bryant (Ed.), Handbook of Death and Dying (pp.694–702). Sage. 10.4135/9781412914291.n68
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412914291.n68 [Google Scholar]
  63. Wright, D., & Brookes, G.
    (2019) ‘This is England, speak English!’: A corpus-assisted critical study of language ideologies in the right-leaning British press. Critical Discourse Studies, 16(1), 56–83. 10.1080/17405904.2018.1511439
    https://doi.org/10.1080/17405904.2018.1511439 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): bereavement discourse; corpus-assisted discourse studies; COVID-19; memorials
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error