William Hughes writes movingly about the death of his partner and how it has changed how he reacts to the portrayal of death and resurrection in media.
I start the music, take his hands and start leading him, swaying them back and forth. And he lets go of me. He's gonna wing it as he was prone to do when he was younger. Breathing on his own for the last time, Geoffrey Holder, eyes closed, performs his last solo to Bill Evans playing Fauré's Pavane. From his deathbed. The arms take flight, his beautiful hands articulate through the air, with grace. I whisper "shoulders" and they go into an undulating shimmy, rolling like waves. His Geoffrey Holder head gently rocks back and forth as he stretches out his right arm to deliver his trademark finger gesture, which once meant "you can't afford this" and now is a subtle manifestation of pure human spirit and infinite wisdom. His musical timing still impeccable, bouncing off the notes, as if playing his own duet with Evan's piano. Come the finale, he doesn't lift himself off the bed as he planned; instead, one last gentle rock of the torso, crosses his arms and turns his head to the side in a pose worthy of Pavlova. All with a faint, gentile smile.Leo Holder talks about his father's last dance.
Jean-Claude Duvalier, ‘Baby Doc’ of Haiti, Dies at 63: [New York Times]
"Jean-Claude Duvalier, a former president of Haiti known as Baby Doc who ruled the country with a bloody brutality and then shocked the country anew with a sudden return from a 25-year exile in 2011, died on Saturday."
Five years ago this month, African-American lesbian Mitrice Richardson disappeared after being released from Los Angeles County Sheriff custody in Malibu in the middle of the night. A year later, her body was discovered; the initial investigation, was later found to be flawed. In 2011, her parents settled a lawsuit against the LA County Sheriff's Department. Her family maintains a website, Bring Mitrice Justice. A documentary, Lost Compassion, is in progress.
Alison Atkin is a Ph.D. student in osteoarchaeology at the University of Sheffield, studying plague cemeteries. Her research is presented in this quirky, hand-drawn poster. Don't miss GIFs of the interactive panels at her blog, Deathsplanation.
How to Know When it’s Time to Euthanize Your Dog
The most important thing to be alert for is The Look. It’s capitalized because it is a Real Thing. At some point near the end of its life, your dog will make eye contact with you. There will be something about that particular eye contact that you will recognize when you see it. Your dog will tell you, as clearly as if they had it notarized, that they are ready to go.At Dear Prudence, Pet Euthanasia and Can I Lie About It?
...the subject of euthanizing her has come up at home and briefly in the vet’s office. Is this wrong? And if we decide to go down this path, am I obligated to be honest about why she was put down when relatives and friends ask?
(1)I still remember the first time I smelled brain. It was my grandfather, cracking open the skulls of squirrels he’d killed. They’d scamper down the sides of pecans and live oaks among the Louisiana timbers where I grew up, enter his sights—then, oblivion. (2) At 21, he started sweeping the floors in a morgue in New Orleans’ Jefferson Parish. When he assisted with his first autopsy, his stomach proved as unflinching as his curiosity. In the late 1980s, he became one of the country’s youngest medicolegal death investigators, logging 7,000 autopsies and 3,000 next-of-kin notifications around New Orleans, then Atlanta. (3) Morgan relates gruesome tales of true crime scene experiences while weaving in parallels from his own (often dark) adolescence in Louisiana. After so many years of performing autopsies and doing one of the most horrific and traumatic—and generally unrecognized—jobs, Morgan was diagnosed with severe PTSD and forced into retirement from fieldwork. (Warning: Very disturbing photos in the first and third links. Very detailed talk of murder, suicide, and prostitution)
NOLA bounce artist and rapper Nicky Da B is dead. Nicki was best known for his colorful, aggressively infectious music and videos, including Hot Potato Style (previously), Express Yourself with Diplo (previously), and his collaboration with photographer Clayton Cubitt Go Loko (NSFW, strobe and flashes warning)
"There's something different about being told you’re dying when you’re 10 years old: You’re not a grown-up, but you’ve thought about what you’ll be like when you’re 30, when you’re old. You’re not a baby anymore — you know what cancer is. People start feeding you pills and poking you with needles. You make a bucket list your mother worries she won’t be able to help you complete. You want to get your ear pierced, but you can’t risk the infection. You know what sex is, but you’re told you’re not ready. You want to try new things, but you need permission first. You never lose hope for a miracle, because you’re still a kid, and kids aren’t supposed to die." Ethan Alexander Arbelo-Maldonado: Little Man and the Pursuit of Happiness [more inside]
On July 2, 2014, Hannah Richell's husband Matt was killed in a surfing accident at Bronte beach. [more inside]
First world war – a century on, time to hail the peacemakers "On the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we should remember those who tried to stop a catastrophe" [more inside]
When the Bough Breaks. "Children often can’t tell detectives what happened to them. But their injuries always tell a story. The essence of a child abuse investigation is determining the plausibility of an adult’s story, given the child’s condition. Could the child have sustained the injuries by falling off a bed, tumbling down stairs, or any number of accidents that parents routinely describe? Or does the story fail to account for the injuries?" A profile of Sergeant Brenda Nichols, the head of the Dallas Police Department’s Child Abuse Squad, and one of her cases. (SFW, but the article contains graphic descriptions of child abuse that some readers may find disturbing.)
Every Upworthy video ever in just over two minutes. (SLYT)
Ever wonder what it feels like to be old? "I am the same age as Sean Connery and Clint Eastwood. In Dog-years that is really really ancient..."
On Sunday, July 13th 2014, Africa's Nobel Laureates in Literature balanced the eternal dance of life and death. On that day, Nigerian poet Wole Soyinka celebrated his 80th birthday with Presidents and paeans, even as South African author Nadine Gordimer passed away that night at age 90. Each, in their own way with words, took on the challenge of race and colour.
Lana Del Rey: Why a Death-Obsessed Pop Siren Is Perfect for Late-Stage Capitalist America (mirrored at Salon.com)
Lana Del Rey is pushing the envelope, and here's her message, delivered with a languid pout: 21st-century America is a rotting corpse, deadlocked culturally, economically, and politically. Since there's nothing we can do about it, let's enjoy ourselves as the body-politic disintegrates, perhaps by savoring some toothsome bites of the past: candy-colored Super 8 films, juicy jazz tunes and clips of sultry screen sirens. The future is a retrospective.
All of this echoes the ancient danse macabre, the dance of death, the motif that sprang out of the medieval horrors of war and the plague. It's a plea for fevered amusement while you've still got time.
It’s been five years since my best friend from high school died, but her death happens over and over online.
"Now that aunt #6 was dead, we could be a hand. If we are a hand, my grandmother is the cupped palm at the center of her five remaining children. If we are a hand, my mother is the thumb, and the other fingers are her brothers and sisters.... Mamá is the thumb, and I am her fingernail."
The Morbid Anatomy Museum, a treasure trove of pathological and funereal curiosities, antique medical models, and anatomical art pledged to "exploring the intersections of death, beauty, and that which falls between the cracks," has opened its doors to the public in Gowanus, Brooklyn. [more inside]
Charlie Barsotti, one of the great cartoonists, passed away. Charlie drew close to fourteen hundred cartoons for The New Yorker over the years, beginning in the nineteen-sixties and continuing right through last week’s issue.
Many more here. Previously.
Many more here. Previously.
What hospitals can learn from flight safety measures. After his wife died due to a mistake during a very simple procedure, Martin Bromiley decided to use his pilot experience to examine how such mistakes can be avoided in the future. It involves changing the whole hierarchy of the hospital environment.
“Hindus are, on average, richer and more educated than Muslims. But oddly, the child mortality rate for Hindus is much higher. All observable factors say Hindus should fare better, but they don't. Economists refer to this as the Muslim mortality puzzle. In a new study, researchers believe that they may have found a solution to the puzzle. And, surprisingly, the solution lies in a single factor – open defecation.” [more inside]
Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating: Since January 29 of this year, Sri Ashutosh Maharaj, founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious sect, has been residing in a freezer in his ashram in Punjab. His followers claim he is in a "deep meditative state (samadhi)." Doctors, however, have declared Maharaj clinically dead and his family have sued to have his death be investigated and to have his body released for cremation. The guru's son also alleges that Maharaj was murdered and that his followers are trying to gain control of his estate, said to be worth $170 million. While traditional yogis have claimed extraordinary powers, including the power to stop one's heart, the evidence for these claims has been lacking.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou 1928 - 2014
War robots are now so real that "87 countries sat down at a United Nations-convened conference from May 13th to the 15th to discuss banning the things." A country on the forefront of development is Russia. They have announced that armed roaming robots would be standing guard over 5 ballistic missile bases, and there are plans for a new military robot laboratory. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said "We have to conduct battles without any contact so that our boys do not die, and for that it is necessary to use war robots." Defense experts say within 10 years nearly every country will have robotic weapons, mass produced and exported by countries like the US, China and Russia.
This is a collection of Francisco "Puree Tomatoes" Taccir's blog posts from Myspace and Friendster from 2005 – 2010. Tomatoes was a writer, artist, and addict who was born on February 26. 1977. He died on October 10, 2010 from a heroin overdose. [more inside]
Given word that he has a few months left to live, a man with lung cancer decides to throw a wake at the New Orleans jazz fest. Everyone at the party wore nametags with brief descriptions of their backgrounds. The honoree of the night, Louis Misko, wore one that was, like the man himself, abrupt and unflinching: "The Louis," said the message written in red marker. "Soon to be deceased." Gaunt, but smiling, Misko circulated through the crowd, relishing conversation with his guests at Pascal's Manale restaurant, most of whom he expected never to see again. He was holding his own memorial, in advance of his death from lung cancer.
Bob Hoskins, legendary British actor, has died aged 71. He is perhaps best known for his roles in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (clip), Hook (clip), Mona Lisa and The Long Good Friday, where he delivered one of the best movie endings ever. [more inside]
Ken Tanaka and David Ury’s ‘Everybody Dies’. A book about death.
Post-operative Check: "It's okay that you don't remember me. My name is Shara, and I'm part of the surgical team. I'm checking to see how you're doing after your surgery. Do you know where you are right now?" [more inside]
How Americans Die - a visual tour through surprising trends in mortality among Americans in the last several decades
A couple's final journey. "Chris MacLellan and Bernard Richard Schiffer never exchanged “for better or for worse” vows. As a gay couple, marriage wasn’t an option in Florida. Instead, they lived together and loved each other for 11 years."
Malaysian human rights activist Irene Fernandez died on March 31st 2014 at age 67 from heart failure. She was arrested and charged with one year imprisonment in 1996 for "publishing false information with the intention to harm" after publishing a report on abuses of migrant workers in detention camps in Malaysia, and was acquitted in 2008 after multiple delays due to losses of important files. She received a Right Livelihood Award in 2005 for her human rights and migrant advocacy work. She is remembered by activists in Malaysia and overseas, politicians, and international media. [more inside]
36 variant covers of the upcoming issue of Life with Archie commemorate his upcoming death. The penultimate issue (#36) involves Archie "heroically sacrificing his life to save that of a dear friend", with the final issue reflecting on the lives of Riverdale residents one year on.
A Certain Kind Of Death is a documentary about what happens to those who die with no next of kin. (Warning: Bodies, sadness)
How long can your digital life keep up the appearance of your actual life? A Michigan woman quit her job in 2008 and told her neighbors she was going abroad. Her bills were paid automatically and her neighbors mowed the lawn until her money ran out in 2013, when the bank foreclosed on her house. A mummified body believed to be hers was discovered in the garage, but authorities are struggling to definitively identify it. There's a Facebook page set up by her family dedicated to finding out what happened to Pia Farrenkopf.
James Rebhorn, an actor often playing a man in a suit, Dies at 65 after a 12-year struggle with skin cancer.
Mr. Rebhorn had memorable supporting roles in major films and worked consistently in television and theater. He appeared in more than 50 films, including “Meet the Parents,” “Independence Day,” “My Cousin Vinny” and “Cold Mountain.”He penned his own obituary which can be read here.
The Murders at The Lake. "In the summer of 1982 the city of Waco was confronted with the most vicious crime it had ever seen: three teenagers were savagely stabbed to death, for no apparent reason, at a park by a lake on the edge of town. Justice was eventually served when four men were found guilty of the crime, and two were sent to death row. In 1991, though, when one of the convicts got a new trial and was then found not guilty, some people wondered, Were these four actually the killers? Several years after that, one of the men was put to death, and the stakes were raised: Had Texas executed an innocent man?" [more inside]
Fred Phelps, longtime head of the Westboro Baptist Church previously previously previously previously previously previously previously, is "now on the edge of death" in a Topeka hospice, says his son Nate previously in a piece in the Topeka Capital-Journal. Media reaction has been, in a word, unmixed. [more inside]
What do you get when your funeral director is a former women's magazine writer who describes herself as "a Kundalini-yoga-practicing Buddhist Presbyterian on the board of Brooklyn Heights Synagogue"? It's Amy Cunningham's blog The Inspired Funeral, chronicling trends, products, history, music and ideas related to all sorts of grieving traditions. (From this NYT article about boomers gravitating towards greener burials and funerals.) [more inside]
Deathigner is an animated, charming look at how mortality personalities learn to do what they do.
Sherwin Nuland, surgeon and award-winning author who challenged idea of dignified death, has died at age 83. The son of first generation immigrants, Nuland survived a troubled childhood and succeeded in medical school only to face near-paralyzing depression, for which he was successfully treated with electroconvulsive therapy (first-person TED talk). His award-winning book, "How We Die: Reflections on Life's Final Chapter", included realistic descriptions of the process of death and helped to frame the national debate on assisted suicide. [more inside]