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Making peace with death

So, I calmly announced to my wife: “I’m going to build my own coffin. I just thought you should know.”
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Feb 4, 2014 - 25 comments

She died well because she was willing to die too soon....

The Ultimate End of Life Plan. "...Torn, I called my mother's internist. 'I know your mother well enough, and I respect her,' he said. 'She doesn't want to risk a surgery that could leave her debilitated or bound for a nursing home. I think I would advise the same decision if it was my Mom.' I called my mother and said, 'Are you sure? The surgeon said you could live to be 90.' 'I don't want to live to be 90,' she said. 'I'm going to miss you,' I said, weeping. 'You are not only my mother. You are my friend.' That day I stopped pressuring my mother to live forever and began urging her doctors to do less rather than more. A generation of middle-aged sons and daughters are facing this dilemma, in an era when advanced medical technologies hold out the illusion that death can be perfectly controlled and timed."
posted by storybored on Feb 3, 2014 - 58 comments

Jasper Dog (1995-2014)

Nineteen years with an old friend: In today's installment of his blog The Bleat, James Lileks recounts the final two days of his dog Jasper, who passed away Friday afternoon.
posted by Ranucci on Feb 3, 2014 - 36 comments

And this is my column this week.

A friend of mine died on the weekend. She was young and it was sudden. [more inside]
posted by The Card Cheat on Jan 30, 2014 - 31 comments

Sugar Cane Workers and Chronic Kidney Failure

In El Salvador and Nicaragua, Chronic Kidney Failure accounts for more deaths than HIV, diabetes, and leukemia combined. In affected communities, 69% of sugar cane workers are affected. "CKDu" is the second leading cause of death in El Salvador among men, and between 20 and 25 thousand men have died in the last 8 years of the disease. NYT Photos.
posted by thisisdrew on Jan 30, 2014 - 21 comments

I can’t go on. I’ll go on.

The pedestrian truth that you live one day at a time didn’t help: What was I supposed to do with that day? My oncologist would say only: “I can’t tell you a time. You’ve got to find what matters most to you.” —neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi on coming face to face with his own mortality. SLNYT.
posted by Athanassiel on Jan 24, 2014 - 29 comments

These are very calm pigs, and that’s the way we want them to be.

Danish Crown is the world's largest exporter of pork, killing approximately 100,000 pigs a week to cater to the growing global demand for meat. Alastair Philip Wiper visited the company's abattoir in Horsens to capture a behind-the-scenes look at the entire process, starting at the pens where the pigs arrive and moving through the spaces where the animals are slaughtered, butchered and packaged for sale.
posted by timshel on Jan 23, 2014 - 40 comments

Ohio executes inmate using untried, untested lethal injection method

On Thursday morning, Ohio executed Dennis McGuire for the 1989 rape and murder of Joy Stewart. However, due to an embargo on the common used lethal injection drug pentobarbital, the state used an untried combination of midazolam, a sedative, and hydromorphone, a morphine derivative, for the execution. The procedure took 24 minutes, during which McGuirse was reported to have been "choking and snorting" and was described as "horrific". [more inside]
posted by I am the Walrus on Jan 17, 2014 - 292 comments

My Mother's Lover

What we knew of Angus was this: Angus—the only name we had for him—was a flight surgeon our mother had fallen in love with during World War II, planned to marry after the war, but lost when the Japanese shot him down over the Pacific. Once, long ago, she had mentioned to me that he was part of the reason she decided to be a doctor. That was all we knew. She had confided those things in the 1970s, in the years just after she and my father divorced. I can remember sitting in a big easy chair my dad had left behind in her bedroom, listening to her reminisce about Angus as she sat with her knitting. I remember being embarrassed, and not terribly interested. I was interested now. Even 30 years before, her affair with Angus had been three decades old. Now, 60 years after he had fallen into the sea, she wanted to follow him.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 10, 2014 - 18 comments

Is the Contraceptive NuvaRing Killing Thousands?

"Danger in the Ring." According to Karen, a doctor in the emergency room asked her over the phone: “Was your daughter using birth control?” Karen said, “Yes, NuvaRing.” He removed the device and said, “I thought so, because she’s having a pulmonary embolism.” [more inside]
posted by blue suede stockings on Dec 28, 2013 - 103 comments

Author Ned Vizzini has died

Young adult author Ned Vizzini has passed away at the age of 32 [more inside]
posted by holmesian on Dec 20, 2013 - 50 comments

The next thing that happens is it’s all over.

What happens when one of your coworkers dies?
posted by ChrisR on Dec 20, 2013 - 56 comments

Giving Back

"After two to three hours, the body is transformed into a sterile coffee-colored liquid the consistency of motor oil that can be safely poured down the drain, alongside a dry bone residue similar in appearance to cremated remains." GOOD magazine: The emergence of the sustainable death industry.
posted by The Whelk on Dec 17, 2013 - 93 comments

Ars Morendi.

“I am going to put you on a bit of morphine,” I said, like I was used to saying such things, announcing to dying patients that I was going to put them on a drug named for Morpheus, the god of sleep, descended from Thanatos, the god of death." A doctor reflects on the art of dying in 21st century America.
posted by sonika on Dec 12, 2013 - 9 comments

From WNYC in New York, this is Radiolab...LIVE!

The public radio science program Radiolab recently wrapped up a tour featuring their latest live show, Apocalyptical. It is, as you might have guessed, about the end times. The show, hosted by Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich and featuring live performances from comedians Kurt Braunohler and Reggie Watts and an appearance from dinosaur puppets, is now available for free on YouTube.
posted by inturnaround on Dec 11, 2013 - 13 comments

"We just choose to be present."

In 1986, Sandra Clarke was working as a staff nurse at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, OR when a dying man asked her to sit with him. She agreed but first needed to make her rounds and the man died alone in his room before she was able to return. Troubled, and feeling that she had failed a patient, she resolved to gather volunteers to stay with those who were alone and close to death. Ms. Clarke enlisted her entire hospital for a bedside vigil system to help ensure that patients would not be alone when they died. In 2001, Sacred Heart formalized the program as No One Dies Alone (NODA) and over the last decade, it has spread to hospitals across the US. "Susan Cox Is No Longer Here" offers us a glimpse into the NODA experience in Indianapolis. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 7, 2013 - 23 comments

We all big brother now

The imminent Childish Gambino album 'Because the Internet" (as rumored, recorded at Chris Bosh's house) leaked over the weekend so the rapper/actor provided a streaming link to an iTunes site so that his fans could hear it while supporting him. The record features songs about: Oakland, World Star Hip Hop (in reaction to being shot at in Atlanta), being The Worst, and Death (so much death).
posted by Potomac Avenue on Dec 5, 2013 - 22 comments

Paul Crouch is Dead.

TBN head Paul Crouch died Saturday, November 30 at 79. Under Crouch, TBN grew to “84 satellite channels and over 18,000 television and cable affiliates around the world.” But he was a controversial figure, even among televangelists. (Previously on Metafilter, [via Slacktivist])
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me on Dec 3, 2013 - 35 comments

“They're killers. Bodies just pile up here."

The victim of the first big mistake I ever made was a gentleman to whom I had never been properly introduced (and whose name I still do not know) but who was possessed of three singular qualities: he was alone in a room with me, he was without his trousers, and he was very, very dead.
posted by Chrysostom on Nov 26, 2013 - 20 comments

"But there was nothing natural about the way Rodney Marks died."

A Mysterious Death at the South Pole
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 24, 2013 - 56 comments

A Sailor's Dying Wish

I really don't have anything to add to this. They piped him ashore. CMDCM Grgetich leaned in and quietly told me how significant that honor was and who it’s usually reserved for as we headed towards the gangplank. Hearing “Electrician’s Mate Second Class William Bud Cloud, Pearl Harbor Survivor, departing” announced over the 1MC was surreal.
posted by COD on Nov 14, 2013 - 39 comments

Dear 公公

Open Letter to Grandpa
posted by Wonton Cruelty on Nov 12, 2013 - 17 comments

'I like to think of Hart Island as New York City’s family tomb'

There are a few ways to end up on Hart Island. One third of its inhabitants are infants—some parents couldn’t afford a burial, others didn’t realize what a “city burial” meant when they checked it on the form. Many of the dead here were homeless, while others were simply unclaimed; if your body remains at the city morgue for more than two weeks, you, too, will be sent for burial by a team of prisoners on Hart Island.
posted by anastasiav on Nov 8, 2013 - 30 comments

"...research that is scientifically valuable but morally disturbing."

The Nazi Anatomists. "How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics."
posted by zarq on Nov 6, 2013 - 28 comments

Danse Macabre

Danse Macabre. "For a period of time, while we believe it to be perfectly still, lifeless flesh responds, stirs and contorts in a final macabre ballet. Are these spasms merely erratic motions or do they echo the chaotic twists and turns of a past life?" [NSFW, SLV, Via]
posted by homunculus on Nov 3, 2013 - 5 comments

Don’t tell anyone how to grieve, specially children.

These days, selfies are how we make ourselves real, to ourselves and to the outside world. So, it’s no wonder that some of us turn to our iPhones in these moments of loss. It’s a way of saying, “I still exist.”
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Nov 2, 2013 - 106 comments

The Pills of Last Resort

How Dying Patients Get Access to Experimental Drugs
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Nov 1, 2013 - 16 comments

We draw a thick line on what has happened in the past.

Tadeusz Mazowiecki has died. The first prime minister after the fall of communist regime in Poland was later an UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Bosnia and resigned this post in protest over the failure of international community to prevent the Srebrenica massacre. [more inside]
posted by hat_eater on Oct 28, 2013 - 6 comments

Tiny Time Machine

In the December 2004 issue of SPIN, we published Los Angeles journalist/musician Liam Gowing's detailed, empathetic look at the last years of Elliott Smith's life and the circumstances that led up to the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter's apparent suicide. "Mr. Misery" was difficult to read, a tremendous challenge to edit and fact-check, and one of the most remarkably intimate pieces in the magazine's history. On the 10th anniversary of Smith's death, it's now available for the first time on the site. [more inside]
posted by mannequito on Oct 21, 2013 - 13 comments

"This is my gift to you. Do with it what you want."

The Course of Their Lives. While much in medicine has changed over the last century, the defining course of a first year medical student's education is still 'Gross Anatomy.' This is their hands-on tour of a donated cadaver -- an actual human body -- and is an experience which cannot be replicated by computer models. When Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Mark Johnson came up with the idea of following a med school gross anatomy class for a feature story, his editor challenged him to make it different. So he chose to intertwine the students' stories with that of Geraldine 'Nana' Fotsch, a living future donor, as sort of a stand-in for the cadaver. (Via. This four-part series contains descriptions of a human dissection. Some may find it disturbing.) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 19, 2013 - 29 comments

"The shock value of what might be called death humor"

Laughing Past The Grave
We realize we aren’t supposed to speak ill of the dead, but we adore it, often to a perfectly scandalous degree, when others do, and especially when it’s funny.

posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 18, 2013 - 28 comments

IKEA or Death

IKEA item or Black Metal band?
posted by swift on Oct 10, 2013 - 44 comments

︻╦╤─

Bearing Arms: [New York Times] Articles in this series examine the gun industry’s influence and the wide availability of firearms in America. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Sep 29, 2013 - 242 comments

The Tragic Death of Kendrick Johnson

A high school athlete's bizarre death in Georgia raises questions among his family and other members of their community. [more inside]
posted by Alonzo T. Calm on Sep 8, 2013 - 43 comments

"We got him."

"Maria Ridulph was 7 when she was kidnapped from a street corner in Sycamore, Illinois, on December 3, 1957. Her kidnapping and murder is the nation's oldest cold case to go to trial. It required family members to turn against one of their own and haunted a small town for 55 years. Even now, the case may not be over." CNN: Taken: The Coldest Case Ever Solved [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 2, 2013 - 85 comments

Iceland 2.7, Dominican Republic 41.7

Roads kill map: an interactive map of worldwide traffic fatalities, including causes of death and levels of enforcement, created by the Pulitzer Center. According to the WHO, road injuries are the 9th cause of death worldwide, with 90% occuring in developing countries where they are expected to rise to the 5th rank, "leapfrogging past HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis", due to growing traffic numbers and lax enforcement. (Via /.)
posted by elgilito on Aug 23, 2013 - 25 comments

"Beautiful Day, Happy to Have Been Here."

As 60 year old Seattle native Jane Lotter fought endometrial cancer, she decided to write her own obituary. On July 18 Lotter "took advantage of Washington state's compassionate Death with Dignity Act and died peacefully at home" with her family. Her obituary closed with the line "Beautiful day, happy to have been here," which her husband had inscribed on buttons that were handed out at her August 4 funeral.
posted by apricot on Aug 6, 2013 - 46 comments

...the firm resolve of a determined soul.

Thurman Munson In Sun And Shade [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 3, 2013 - 9 comments

Final Moments of Karl Brant

The Final Moments of Karl Brant. "In the near future, a neurologist and two homicide detectives use experimental brain taping technology to question a murder victim about his final moments." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jul 31, 2013 - 33 comments

Abbie the Cat, 1997 - 2013. He had a posse.

Abbie the Cat [Has a Posse] passed away on Tuesday, July 23, 2013. Started in 2001, the blog of Abbie the Cat was sometimes irregularly updated, but almost always written from Abbie's point of view. Readers were warned of Abbie's impending death on July 22 by Rob, Abbie's owner. (Previously.) [more inside]
posted by aabbbiee on Jul 31, 2013 - 52 comments

Hacker Barnaby Jack, dead at 35

Barnaby Jack, a hacker and security researcher previously known for his hacks involving ATMs and insulin pumps, has died in San Francisco. He was 35. His death came just days before he was to give a presentation about techniques for hacking implanted heart devices, which could kill a person from 30 feet away.
posted by anemone of the state on Jul 28, 2013 - 27 comments

Counterculture legend Mick Farren dies with his boots on

Give The Anarchist A Cigarette: Counterculture legend Mick Farren dies with his boots on Mick Farren, rabble rouser, musician, and writer, collapsed last night on stage at the The Borderline, in London. He died soon after. Hmm, sorry, I seem to be crap at this. Here's some more links to the story: From Uncut: Mick Farren 1943 - 2013, From Vintage Vinyl News: Passings: Mick Farren of the Deviants (1943 - 2013), and from Ultimate Calssic Rock: Mick Farren Dies After Collapsing On Stage In London That last has a pretty good version of "Let's Loot The Super Market".
posted by evilDoug on Jul 28, 2013 - 19 comments

Final Encore Blues For Mister JJ Cale

Sadly true, at 74. (JJ Cale previously, and Wikipedia.) Otherwise best to just let the man and his guitar speak for themselves via classic albums such as Troubadour, Grasshopper, Naturally, Okie and Shades.
posted by Pouteria on Jul 27, 2013 - 56 comments

"I didn’t die?"

A Life-Or-Death Situation. "As a bioethicist, Margaret "Peggy" Pabst Battin fought for the right of people to end their own lives. After her husband’s cycling accident, her field of study turned unbearably personal." Via.
posted by zarq on Jul 19, 2013 - 26 comments

Vaccines: How Do They Work?

Noted anti-vaccination activist Jenny McCarthy is going to replace Elizabeth Hasselbeck as The View's newest panelist. So, now, she can take her anti-vaccine roadshow to the masses. Even though she admitted that her son never had autism. A Slate columnist is even trying to petition The View to not hire Ms. McCarthy.
posted by reenum on Jul 15, 2013 - 195 comments

A life well lived.

"In life, things happen twice if you're lucky. There's the father you get and the father you choose." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 10, 2013 - 10 comments

Godspeed Human Metronome

Alan Myers, drummer for Devo during their seminal '76-'85 period, has died. [more inside]
posted by item on Jun 26, 2013 - 74 comments

"Mourning" Chimpanzees

"After she passed, the chimps examined the body, inspecting Pansy’s mouth, pulling her arm and leaning their faces close to hers. Blossom sat by Pansy’s body through the night. And when she finally moved away to sleep in a different part of the enclosure, she did so fitfully, waking and repositioning herself dozens more times than was normal. For five days after Pansy’s death, none of the other chimps would sleep on the platform where she died."— "Want to Understand Mortality? Look to the Chimps", by Maggie Koerth-Baker in the NYT [more inside]
posted by Toekneesan on Jun 25, 2013 - 17 comments

“Always build people up. Never tear people down. Be kind.”

'Loss is difficult at any time of life. It can be particularly difficult for teenagers, who are still navigating their way, sometimes clumsily, toward adulthood. They know they need help, but are sometimes reluctant to ask for it. And often, because of their youth, their loss may be the first death they have ever known.' For a year, a reporter from the Cincinnati Enquirer sat in on meetings of a grief group at Archbishop Moeller high school, for boys who had lost a parent... and learned The Rules of Grieving.
posted by zarq on Jun 15, 2013 - 27 comments

His final words were "Set me free."

On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts. His final letter.
posted by zarq on Jun 13, 2013 - 161 comments

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