A family has erected a giant iPhone headstone for their phone-obsessed teenager after her tragic death.
Theresa ‘Resa’ Matautia, 15, from Auckland, New Zealand, took her own life in August 2018.
While time may have passed, her loved ones haven’t forgotten Theresa and her quirks – sharing video of a custom headstone they recently dedicated to her.
The iPhone headstone is remarkably detailed, featuring heart-breaking messages from family, battery percentage and Wi-Fi symbols.
It features details of her life and photo and sits on a regular stone.
It has attracted plenty of attention in Manukau Memorial Gardens cemetery in south Auckland, New Zealand, and now the creative and unique monument is sparking debate online.
A family that made a headstone resembling a giant iPhone for a phone-addicted teenager who died suddenly has encouraged people to laugh at their unusual tribute
The popular teenager was always on her phone, the family says, so they felt
‘When our sister died we made her phone her headstone because she was always on it,’ a TikTok by graphic designer relative Geoffrey Matautia was captioned.
In another video Mr Matautia confirmed the reason for its design was that his little sister was ‘pretty much glued to that thing’.
The teen was obsessed with selfies, but would also keep her camera rolling to document her life at home and with friends and post vlogs to her Instagram account.
Mr Matautia included a skull and laughing emojis in his post with the clip – which was confronting to some TikTok users.
‘It’s funny and not funny at the same time,’ one wrote.
‘I wrote that comment without thinking and didn’t even realise I put the emoji in,’ Mr Matautia replied later.
The family of Theresa Matautia (pictured) had coped with their grief with laughter, noting that she was ‘glued to her phone. The much-loved 15 year old went to high school in Auckland, NZ
Resa Matauia’s remarkable grave stone which sits in a cemetery in south Auckland, New Zealand
The video rapidly went viral, with 22 million views and over 3 million likes – and drew mostly praise.
Hundreds applauded the family for their creativity and daring to make something personal that they thought the teen would probably love if she could see it.
But some commenters felt conflicted and weren’t sure how to respond.
‘Am I allowed to laugh? How am I supposed to react?’ said one woman.
Theresa’s brother reassured commenters and TikTok users that the family wouldn’t be offended if people found the headstone or videos about it funny.
He explained in a later video that the family had been through a lot of grieving since her death in 2018 but the headstone was part of how they’d coped.
‘For everyone having a cry in the comments, just have a laugh,’ he said.
‘We give you permission to laugh at this video. Not everyone copes with loss the same, so our family just do it in a different way.
‘It’s almost been four years [since she died] and my family just learned how to deal with it.’
The messages on the gravestone are from Resa’s father, mother and four surviving siblings.
‘The memory of your little hand holding mine brings a warm glow to my heart. I miss you my beautiful daughter,’ said the one from her mum.
The sudden death of teenager Theresa Matauia inspired thousands of people to contact the family and their monument guarantees her name will live on
Her dad tribute reads ‘Thinking of you today Sweetheart, just like I do every day. I miss you and love you my lil Angel.’
‘Hi Resa, we miss you more than words could explain, thank you for being the best little sister/roommate anybody could ever ask for, until we meet again, we love you,’ said a message from her siblings, Geoffery, Giovanni, Nathaniel and Sieni.
Some TikTok users were also unnerved by their decision to picnic there, but NZ users pointed out it’s a common custom and most days of the week you can find Kiwis having lunch beside their late loved ones.
A year after her death, Geoffery posted ‘I didn’t think my heart could hurt this much. How dare the only other creative sibling leave me like this. Love you.’
Ten days after Resa died, her father posted that he was amazed by the messages and support the family received from around the world.
‘The positive impact Theresa has had on so many peoples lives from her family to close friends to even people who have never met her in a different country, we realised is not surprising when you take into account the person that Theresa was and will always be in peoples hearts.’
The headstone was made by Sanctuary Memorials which specializes in custom headstones
Its website features several made in unusual shapes, including footy jumpers, fish, garden sheds, sea shells and Maori carvings
‘And finally to Theresa, my baby girl, we might never know why you left us so soon but we will continue to celebrate your love that you put out into the world.
‘We love you and we will miss your obnoxious laugh and heavy footsteps around the house.’
The headstone was made by Sanctuary Memorials which specializes in custom headstones.
Its website features several made in unusual shapes, including footy jumpers, fish, garden sheds, sea shells and Maori carvings.
For confidential 24-hour support in Australia call on 13 11 14 or the Kid’s Helpline on 1800 55 1800. Young people can also create an online account for ongoing support at headspace.org.au
In New Zealand, kids and teens are encouraged to call the What’s Up helpline on 0800 942 8787 or Youthline on 0800 37 66 33. Lifeline in New Zealand is on 0800 543 354.