October 20, 2014

King Tut had buck teeth and a club foot

A virtual autopsy of King Tut reveals the Pharaoh had girlish hips, a club foot and buck teeth and that his parents were brother and sister

With strong features cast in burnished gold, Tutankhamun’s burial mask projects an image of majestic beauty and royal power.

 Kingtut Burial-Mask

But in the flesh, King Tut had buck teeth, a club foot and girlish hips, according to the most detailed examination ever of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh’s remains.

A ‘virtual autopsy’, composed of more than 2,000 computer scans, was carried out in tandem with a genetic analysis of Tutankhamun’s family, which supports evidence that his parents were brother and sister.  The scientists believe that this left him with physical impairments triggered by hormonal imbalances. And his family history could also have led to his premature death in his late teens.

 Kingtut Clubfoot

And rather than being a boy king with a love of chariot racing, Tut relied on walking sticks to get around during his rule in the 14th century BC, researchers said…..Evidence of King Tut’s physical limitations were also backed up by 130 used walking canes found in his tomb.
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Earlier this year, egyptologists from the American University in Cairo shed light on some of the bizarre burial rituals discovered in the tomb, including the fact the king’s penis was embalmed at a 90-degree angle – the only mummy to have ever been found with this feature. …to make the young pharaoh appear as Osiris, the god of the underworld….The mummy was also covered in black liquid to resemble Osiris' skin.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:50 PM | Permalink
Categories: Autopsies

Glimpses of the afterlife?

Top brain surgeon who claims he saw heaven while in a coma reveals the stories of others who say they have had similar life-changing experiences

Neurosurgeon Dr Eben Alexander was convinced out-of-body experiences were hallucinations — until he went into a coma himself and had what he now believes was a glimpse of heaven.
In this second extract from his book The Map Of Heaven, Dr Alexander, who has taught at Harvard Medical School, reveals many others have also seen what he described.
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A man called David experienced exactly that, when his father died. With his three siblings, he was sitting in a private room at a hospice where his dad had been for 13 days. They had kept a constant bedside vigil, and it was plain that the end was near.

At 4am, with the room in darkness except for a single night-light in the wall, their father took his last breath — and as he did, a speck of glowing dust seemed to settle on his temple. It was like a pinprick of gold.

No light was shining on the old man’s face, yet this particle of dust was vivid and luminous. As David watched, it began to swell into a pea-sized orb. Now it was a translucent blue, like the light underneath a candle flame. White rays sparkled from it.

The orb lifted, hovered, and then drifted across the room, still effervescing with sparks, until it disappeared through the ceiling. David followed it with his eyes, not daring to speak, until it was gone — and then he turned to one of his sisters. ‘Did you see that?’ he asked.

His sister said: ‘You mean that light that just came out of the side of Dad’s head?’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:58 PM | Permalink
Categories: Afterlife

October 16, 2014

Autopsy on 2500 year-old tattooed virgin princess

Mummy's MRI scan reveals 2,500-year-old Siberian princess died from acute breast cancer - and smoked cannabis to dull the pain

A unique MRI scan on a 2,500 year old mummified Siberian 'princess' has revealed she died after suffering from acute breast cancer.

Preserved in ice in an elaborate grave in the Altai Mountains, the ancient woman - famous for her remarkable tattoos - took cannabis to dull the ravages of her illnesses, experts have also discovered.
'Her use of drugs to cope with her illness may have given her "an altered state of mind", leading her Pazyryk culture kinsmen to the belief that she could communicate with the spirits,' said The Siberian Times.

Dug from her permafrost burial chamber on the high Ukok Plateau in 1993, analysis of her remains earlier highlighted sophisticated tattoos of 'great artistry' of fantastical creatures, while in her tomb was also found clothing and headdresses, a make-up bag, and a stash of cannabis, enabling experts to build a detailed picture of her life and looks.

Separately from the MRI, academics also conclude she was a virgin who lived a deliberately 'celibate' life.

'Her ecstatic visions in all likelihood allowed her to be considered as some chosen being, necessary and crucial for the benefit of society.'She can be seen as the darling of spirits and cherished until her last breath.'

'Evidently, shamans could often assume their powers after a significant illness: a woman might be physically weakened but able to develop her powers of concentration and meditation,' explained the website.

'This would explain the care her people took to care for her and not leave her to die, or hasten death. It also helps to understand the way her burial was conducted in a style similar - but different - to royalty.
'She was buried not in a line of family tombs but in a separate lonely mound, located in a visible open place.

'This may show that the Ukok woman did not belonged to an exact kin or family, but was related to all Pazyryks, who lived on this lofty outpost, some 2,500 metres above sea level. 'This is an indication of her celibacy and special status. Besides, three horses were buried with her. In a common burial, one would be sufficient.'

In her vault was a 'unique mirror of Chinese origin in a wooden frame'. There were also coriander seeds, previously found only in so-called 'royal mounds'. Her mummification was carried out with enormous care in a comparable manner to royals.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:57 AM | Permalink
Categories: Autopsies

October 9, 2014

Two young women face death in different ways

Cancer patient Brittany Maynard, 29, has scheduled her death for Nov. 1 She is suffering from a malignant brain tumor, stage 4 and wants to die "on her own terms" in Portland where she and her family relocated because Oregon law allows terminally-ill patients to end their lives.

She is using her last days to advocate for physician-assisted suicide and explains her choice in  My right to death with dignity at 29.

Kara Tippets, a woman of faith and a mother of four, writes a blog called Mundane Faithfulness and just published on October 1, The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life's Hard

Diagnosed with breast cancer at 36 which two years later has metastasized into her entire body and into her brain, Kara posted an open letter to Dear Brittany : Why We Don't Have to Be So Afraid of Dying & Suffering that We Choose Suicide.

………So hear these words from a heart full of love for you.

Brittany, your life matters, your story matters, and your suffering matters. Thank you for stepping out from the privacy of your story and sharing it openly.

We see you, we see your life, and there are countless lovers of your heart that are praying you would change your mind.

Brittany, I love you, and I’m sorry you are dying. I am sorry that we are both being asked to walk a road that feels simply impossible to walk.
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Dear heart, we simply disagree. Suffering is not the absence of goodness, it is not the absence of beauty, but perhaps it can be the place where true beauty can be known.

In your choosing your own death, you are robbing those that love you with the such tenderness, the opportunity of meeting you in your last moments and extending you love in your last breaths.
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Brittany, when we trust Jesus to be the carrier, protecter, redeemer of our hearts, death is no longer dying. My heart longs for you to know this truth, this love, this forever living.

You have been told a lie. A horrible lie, that your dying will not be beautiful. That the suffering will be too great.
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I pray they reach the multitudes that are looking at your story and believing the lie that suffering is a mistake, that dying isn’t to be braved, that choosing our death is the courageous story.

No – hastening death was never what God intended.

But in our dying, He does meet us with His beautiful grace. The hippocratic oath matters, and those that are choosing to walk away from it need to be challenged.

These two women illustrate two very different approaches to suffering and death.  Brittany doesn't want to put herself or her family through protracted suffering and fears she would become resistant to pain-killers and linger on in hospice.  By choosing physician-assisted suicide, she is seeking some control over her death.

Kara is a remarkable witness to how faith can transform suffering into 'Big Love'.  As she writes in Kept

Here is my hope, here is my heart. There are certainly people who vehemently disagree with my stance on this. Can we speak kindly to one another in our disagreement. We are talking about possibly the most tender moment in the life of another- let’s care for one another as we disagree with gentleness.

I’m bringing as much love to this topic as I am able.  And, of coarse my faith is intertwined. If I believe something- wouldn’t it be an unkindness for me not to want to share it with another. I believe each breath of Brittany matters, is important, is seen. I want her to know I love her, my faith asks me to share my love. My big love matters. And I pray it will meet her- not the endless unkindness that surround her. This is not a Kara vs. Brittany issue. This is one broken and sick woman looking upon another and saying she matters.
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This is not a simple journey. These steps towards my last breath are not simple, easy, fearless, but we are kept. We are carried. Our story matters. Our brokenness is seen.

Yes she evangelizes and if your heart is not hardened, you can hear what she says

I would say before cancer I was a shy evangelist. But now- now that I know there is a limit to my days- I’m giving what was never mine to keep. Why would I hold tightly to this Jesus that asks me to open my hands and pour out His big love. Why? No- I delight that I get this opportunity to share the love I know. If I were in this bed, and you knew unbelievable, overwhelming, overflowing, unbelievable love and you didn’t share it with me- Well friends- I simply can’t be quieted. I have love to share.

"The extreme greatness of Christianity lies in the fact that it does not seek a supernatural remedy for suffering but a supernatural use for it,"  Simone Weil.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:21 PM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying | Categories: Euthanasia | Categories: Good Death

Ebola burial teams back to work picking up abandoned corpses on the street in Sierra Leone

The world's bravest undertakers aren't being paid on time so they are now on strike.

Bodies of Ebola victims lie abandoned in streets of Sierra Leone after burial teams strike over backlog in hazard pay

 Women Faint  As Bodies-Taken-Away
Bodies of Ebola victims are lying abandoned in the streets of Sierra Leone's capital it has emerged, as burial teams strike over a backlog in 'hazard' pay.  The Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation reported bodies of those who had died from the virus were being left in homes and on the streets of Freetown.

Burial teams took strike action, complaining they had not received hazard pay for a week.

The dead bodies of Ebola victims are highly contagious, raising fears more people were at risk of contracting the virus.
Although officials today said the issue had been 'resolved', organisers of the strike action could not be reached to confirm it was over.

UPDATE: The grimmest of clean-up operations begins: Festering bodies of Ebola victims finally removed from streets of Sierra Leone after burial teams' strike over backlog in hazard pay

Lying at the side of the road in a busy marketplace in Sierra Leone the body of an Ebola victim is left abandoned.  The corpse was covered with leaves as dozens of people looked on, unsure what to do in the wake of a strike by burial teams in the capital, Freetown.  Bodies were left in homes and on the streets after a row over a week-long backlog in hazard pay. …At the point of death, the virus is at its most virulent.
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Officials today said the dispute had been 'resolved', paving the way for teams to return to work and clear the backlog of bodies amassing as a result of the strike.

Deputy health minister Madina Rahman told a radio programme this morning the dispute centered on a one-week backlog for hazard pay, which had been deposited in the bank, but was not given to the workers on time. The health ministry is going to investigate the delay in the health workers not receiving their money,' she said.

The burial teams make up a total of 600 workers organized in groups of 12, health ministry spokesman Sidie Yahya Tunis said.
Tunis described the situation as 'very embarrassing'.

 Burialteam-Backtowork
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:42 PM | Permalink
Categories: Dead used for propaganda or profit | Categories: Death and Dying

October 8, 2014

Medical study of clinically dead people later resuscitated

Life after death? Largest-ever study provides evidence that 'out of body' and 'near-death' experiences may be real

There is scientific evidence to suggest that life can continue after death, according to the largest ever medical study carried out on the subject.

A team based in the UK has spent the last four years seeking out cardiac arrest patients to analyse their experiences, and found that almost 40 per cent of survivors described having some form of “awareness” at a time when they were declared clinically dead.

Experts currently believe that the brain shuts down within 20 to 30 seconds of the heart stopping beating – and that it is not possible to be aware of anything at all once that has happened.

But scientists in the new study said they heard compelling evidence that patients experienced real events for up to three minutes after this had happened – and could recall them accurately once they had been resuscitated.
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Dr Parnia’s study involved 2,060 patients from 15 hospitals in the UK, US and Austria, and has been published in the journal Resuscitation.

Of those who survived, 46 per cent experienced a broad range of mental recollections, nine per cent had experiences compatible with traditional definitions of a near-death experience and two per cent exhibited full awareness with explicit recall of “seeing” and “hearing” events – or out-of-body experiences.

Consciousness is not the brain.  Because it is non-material, scientists cannot explain it or how it came into being.  b  By contrast, people of faith have no difficulty in speaking of the soul and the spirit.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 PM | Permalink
Categories: Afterlife

October 6, 2014

"Dead right!"

It’s silly to be frightened of being dead
At the age of 96, the legendary editor Diana Athill writes, the idea of death has never been less alarming. The process of dying is another matter.

I live now in an old people’s home with 42 others, our average age being 90, or perhaps a little more. When one makes the difficult decision (and difficult it is) to retire from normal life, get rid of one’s home and most of one’s possessions, and move into such a place (or be moved, which doesn’t apply here I am glad to say) it means that one has reached the stage of thinking, “How am I going to manage my increasing incompetence now that I’m so old? Who is going to look after me when I can no longer look after myself?” Death is no longer something in the distance, but might well be encountered any time now.

You might suppose that this would make it more alarming, but judging from what I now see around me, the opposite happens. Being within sight, it has become something for which one ought to prepare. One of the many things I like about my retirement home is the sensible practical attitude towards death that prevails here. You are asked without embarrassment whether you would rather die here or in a hospital, whether you want to be kept alive whatever happens, or would prefer a heart attack, for instance, to be allowed to take its course, and how you wish your body to be disposed of. Though when a death occurs in the home it is treated with the utmost respect, and also with a rather amazing tact in relation to us survivors, so that I doubt if anyone has ever been disturbed by such activity as I suppose surrounds the moment of a death, and the removal of a body: a carefulness of our peace of mind which must involve very well-planned management.
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I think that most of the people here would consider it foolish to be frightened of being dead. All of us, however, feel some degree of anxiety about the process of dying.

That process depends on what you are dying of. The body can fail in ways that are extremely distressing, slowly and painfully, demanding much stoicism, or it can switch off with little more than a flash of dizziness. In my family we seem to have been uncommonly lucky in that respect. There was the 82-year-old uncle who was at a meet of the Norwich Stag Hounds, enjoying a drink with friends, when crash! And he fell off his horse, dead. There was the cousin in her eighties who fell dead as she was filling a kettle to make tea, and the other cousin, 98, who slipped away so gently that the sister who was holding her hand didn’t realise that she had stopped breathing. There was my mother, a week before her 96th birthday, who had one nasty day which, to my relief, she couldn’t remember the next morning, then slept her way out after speaking her last words, “It was absolutely divine,” about a recent drive to a beloved place. My father, alas, had a whole week of unhappiness after a blood-vessel in his brain had ruptured. He looked up as one came through the door, obviously about to greet one, then when he found he couldn’t speak, his expression became one of pain and puzzlement: he understood that something was badly amiss but he didn’t know what it was. The moment of his dying, however, was sudden and painless. My brother was the only person near me who clearly resented death, and that was because he had achieved a way of life which suited him so perfectly that he wanted more. He was not frightened of it. “No one after 80 has any right to complain about death,” he had said to me not long before.
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A little while ago I took part in a television programme about death that was designed by the photographer Rankin, to help him overcome his fear of it, to which he bravely admitted. Whether it served his purpose or not I don’t know – possibly not, because that fear is brewed in the guts, not in the mind ….The contributor to the programme I remember with the most pleasure is the man who said that not existing for thousands and thousands of years before his birth had never worried him for a moment, so why should going back into non-existence at this death cause him dismay? Everyone laughed when he said that and so did I, and as I laughed I thought: “Dead right!”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying

Colleen Hufford, the Oklahoma woman who died by beheading RIP

The smiling grandmother beheaded by Muslim convert in the Oklahoma food factory where they both worked

 Colleen Hufford
Smiling with her whole family beside her, beheading victim Colleen Hufford (far right) looks every bit the loving wife, mother and grandmother.  The 54-year-old is pictured here for the first time since she was killed at Vaughan Foods in Moore, Oklahoma, last Thursday in an apparent ISIS-style beheading.

Since the brutal killing, her family and friends have set up a Facebook tribute page, on which they are asking users to donate to a special fund or to charity……People wanting to donate money to the Hufford family are asked to visit the family fundme.com page.

They can also give money to Catholic Charities in Oklahoma or OU Children's Hospital. ….On a link to a donation page for the family, the site administrator wrote: 'Colleen Hufford was beautiful soul who will be remembered for always having a smile on her face and a kind word to offer.  'She was a loyal wife, mother, and a doting grandmother.'
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Mrs Hufford, who had been married to her husband KC for 25 years, had only just recovered from the trauma of losing her family home in the devastating Moore tornado last year.

Her neighbors described her as 'quick to smile' and said her husband picked her up from the food processing plant every night and he was outside when he found out she had been killed…..Neighbor Donna Myers said Colleen's husband KC had told her he was 'overwhelmed' by the tragedy but he was 'really grateful' for all the support he had received.

No word from the President on the beheading of Colleen Hufford

One would think that the beheading of a woman on American soil would warrant some sort of comment from the President Obama. At the very minimum, he could offer a few kind words. As of this writing, he has not said word one about it. His silence speaks volumes.
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The Obama administration’s rationale for not commenting on the death of Colleen Hufford is that it is currently being investigated by the FBI. Well, when I last checked the FBI is also conducting an investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. These legal niceties apparently do not apply in the Brown case because President Obama not only commented on an ongoing FBI investigation, but did so in front of the UN General Assembly no less.

But the President did have time to pen a thank-you letter to the beheader's mosque and a White House official flew to Oklahoma to deliver it.

for their hard work in helping rebuild the Moore community after a destructive tornado tore through the city in 2013.

“Your service is a powerful example of the powerful roots of the Abrahamic faiths and how our communities can come together with shared peace with dignity and a sense of justice,” President Barack Obama said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 PM | Permalink
Categories: Memory, Memorials | Categories: Religious violence

The last thing he ever saw

 Last Photo

Final photograph:

Izumi Noguchi took this incredible photograph of a huge cloud of ash from Japanese volcano Mount Ontake just moments before he was killed. His body and camera were found near Mount Ontake's summit shrine compound

His wife Hiromi has now opted to make the images public as a tribute to Mr Noguchi's memory.
The images emerged as doctors determined that almost all of those killed  on Mount Ontake died of injuries relating to rocks flying out of the volcano.

Rescuers have retrieved 47 bodies from the ash-covered summit area of Mount Ontake since Saturday's eruption. Authorities this morning announced that another 16 people are still missing, with search efforts suspended once again due to rain.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:52 PM | Permalink
Categories: Last Words, Obits, Eulogies and Epitaphs

October 2, 2014

Your Nose Knows

When you lose your sense of smell, it's definitely time to make sure your affairs are in order since that lose of the sense of smell predicts death within five years, according to new research.

People who can no longer smell peppermint, fish, rose or leather 'may have only five years left to live'

Men and women who have lost their sense of smell are almost six times more likely as others to die within the next five years, a study found.  The inability to identify fish, rose, leather, orange, and peppermint – the five scents used in the experiment – could predict death within five years, scientists said.  While the finding may seem odd, a poor sense of smell raises the odds of death more than established medical conditions including cancer.

 Woman-Smelling-Rose

The U.S. researchers said that while the dulling of the sense does not directly cause death, it provides ‘early warning that something has gone badly wrong’.

They believe that a simple smell test could be used to identify pensioners most at risk of an early death.
University of Chicago researcher Jayant Pinto said: ‘Of all the human senses, smell is the most undervalued and underappreciated – until it’s gone.’
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In the first study of its kind, more than 3,000 men and women aged between 57 and 85 were put through a three-minute smell test.  They were asked to sniff the scent given off by felt tip-pen like gadgets and given four possible answers.
They did this five times.

The fragrances used were, in order of increasing difficulty, peppermint, fish, orange, rose and leather.

Most of the men and women got at least four of the five right, meaning they had a normal sense of smell.
Almost 20 per cent only identified two or three of the smells – indicating a mild loss of the sense.

Some 3.5 per cent got one or none right – and were judged to be ‘anosmic’ – or to have lost their sense of smell.
Five years later, 430 of the men and women had died. Those who had failed the smell test were almost six times as likely to have died as those with a healthy sense of smell, the journal PLOS ONE reports.

The finding could be partly explained by age, gender and socio-economic status. But, even when these were taken into account, someone without a sense of smell was more than three times as likely to have died.

In fact, not being able to smell things provides a more accurate warning of an early death than cancer or heart failure. Only severe liver damage is more strongly linked to dying within five years.

Dr Pinto said: ‘We think that loss of sense of smell is like the canary in the coal mine.
‘It doesn’t directly cause death, but it’s a harbinger, an early warning that something has gone badly wrong.’
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:40 PM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying | Categories: Estate Planning and End of Life planning

September 29, 2014

Raymond Alan "Big Al" Brownley RIP

A wonderful obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for Big Al.

RAYMOND ALAN "BIG AL" BROWNLEY, December 30, 1931 - September 21, 2014

Affectionately known as Big Al by his family and many friends, he was a plumber by trade, a tremendous gardener and avid hunter. He also enjoyed fishing and proudly displayed the stuffed barracuda he caught back in 1965, much to the dismay of his wife, Agnes Bargo Brownley, to whom he was married to for 24 years.

He despised canned cranberry sauce, wearing shorts, cigarette butts in his driveway, oatmeal, loud-mouth know-it-alls, Tabasco sauce, reality TV shows, and anything to do with the Kardashians.

But Big Al had many loves, too. He loved his wife, Agnes Bargo Brownley, who preceded him in death in 1990. He also dearly loved his children and grandchildren. Famously opinionated and short-tempered, Big Al handed these qualities down to his daughter, Jill Ann Brownley of Phoenix, Arizona, a sharp-tongued character in her own right. Attending trade school to be a plumber instead of going to college, Big Al's strong work ethic and keen sense of wisely saving and investing his money live on with his son, Jeffrey Allen Brownley (Jill Shafranek Brownley), of New York. He took extreme pride in his two adorable grandchildren Derek Brownley (5) and Alexis Brownley (3), who affectionately called him Grandpa Al. He also loved milk shakes, fried shrimp, the Steelers, the Playboy channel, Silky's Gentlemens Club, taking afternoon naps in his recliner, hanging out at the VFW, playing poker, eating jelly beans by the handful, and his hunting dogs-his favorite being Holly Hill Rip Van Winkle, a loyal beagle that answered to the nickname of Rip.

Big Al was world-renowned for his lack of patience, not holding back his opinion, and a knack for telling it like it is. He was highly proficient at cursing. He liked four-letter words just about as much as four-wheel drive pick-up trucks. He was a connoisseur of banana cream pie and a firm believer that ham sandwiches should only be served on Mancini's bread. He always told you the truth, even if it wasn't what you wanted to hear. He was generous to a fault, a pussy cat at heart, and yet he sugar-coated absolutely nothing. To quote Winston Churchill: "He was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

His fondness of spaghetti Westerns was only surpassed by his love of bacon, beer and butter pecan ice cream. He fondly reminisced about good friends, good drinks and good times at the Tri-Valley Sportsmens Club in Burgettstown. He was a long-time member of the Elks Club in McKees Rocks where he frequently bartended and generously donated his tips to charity. Quite a teller of tales, Big Al's elaborate stories often were punctuated with the phrase, "And that's when I kicked his ass." He enjoyed outlaw country music: Waylon, Willie, Hank, Johnny. He was also on a first-name basis with the Four Horsemen of liquor: Jack, Jim, Johnnie and Jose.

Big Al had strong beliefs in which he never waivered: dog shit makes the best garden fertilizer; Heinz ketchup does not belong on a hotdog; and PennDOT should be embarrassed of the never-ending construction, detours and potholes on Route 28.

With his love for gardening and passion for hunting, Big Al was locally sourcing his food for decades long before it was the "in thing" to do. While a necessity in his youth growing up during the Depression, this passion for being self-sufficient was carried throughout his whole life. This Depression baby was ahead of his time with "being green," as evidenced by the approximately 87 "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" containers stacked neatly in his kitchen cupboard. The biggest challenge was actually finding the butter in his refrigerator with 13 containers of leftovers that all looked the same.

Big Al was known for his timeless words of wisdom, including "Life is hard; but it's harder if you're stupid" and "Don't be a jackass." He had a life-long ménage a trois with his homemade chili and Gas-X. He had a great fondness for sardines on crackers, stuffed cabbage (which he lovingly called hunky hand grenades), making turtle soup, and eating BLTs. And his famous holiday eggnog had enough whiskey to grow hair on your chest.

Also known as the Squirrel Whisperer, he communicated with the local red-tailed squirrels and fed them peanuts out of his hand. He took pride in his time served in the Navy on the USS San Marcos during the Korean War, often waxing nostalgia that the worst meal he'd ever eaten was Shit on a Shingle (creamed chipped beef on toast). His mantra of a girl in every port often led to a fight in every port. With a stink eye towards organized religion, Big Al was more spiritual than religious and enjoyed reading the Bible before bed each night and watching "church on TV" every Sunday morning.

What he lacked in stature, he compensated with an over-abundance of charisma, charm and feistiness. Big Al took fashion advice from no one. With his trademark white, v-neck t-shirts and strategically coiffed comb-over, his comfort far outweighed any interest in the latest fashion trends. He was well-stocked with white shoe polish to keep his tennis shoes looking pristine for prime rib dinners at Longhorn Steakhouse.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 AM | Permalink
Categories: Last Words, Obits, Eulogies and Epitaphs

"'Buried alive by accident and died before she could be rescued'

Greek woman 'buried alive by accident and died before she could be rescued'

Police in northern Greece are investigating a cemetery worker's testimony that a woman was buried alive and cried for help from her grave - only to die before being rescued.

The man and two visitors to the cemetery told police officials that they heard banging and muffled shouts from inside the 49-year-old cancer patient's grave late yesterday, an hour after her funeral.

By the time the coffin was dug up and smashed open, the woman showed no further signs of life. A doctor summoned to Peraia cemetery outside Thessaloniki pronounced her dead

The mother of two had been first declared dead at a private Thessaloniki clinic earlier the same day. A coroner will examine the body.

A doctor who examined the woman's body claimed that she could not have been buried alive, and had been dead for hours.

I just don't believe it,' Chrissi Matsikoudi told Greek television channel MEGA. 'We did several tests including one for heart failure on the body.'She added that 'someone in a state of rigor mortis' could not have been 'shouting and hitting the coffin like that'

The dead woman's relatives are considering filing a complaint against the doctors who treated her at the cancer clinic.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves

Kissing corpses and Ebola

Kissing corpses is helping spread Ebola

Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said worsening conditions in West Africa contribute to a “perfect storm,” including a growing population, decades of civil war, widespread government corruption, dysfunctional health systems and a growing distrust in Western medicine.

Piot, who in 1976 co-discovered the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first case of Ebola, said traditional cultural and religious beliefs in parts of Africa help spread the virus.

“There are very strong traditional beliefs and traditional funeral rites which require that the whole family touch the dead body,” he said in an interview, “and they have a meal in the presence of the dead body.”
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Churches across the region have been closed or have altered some worship rites, including shared Communion, in a bid to stop the spread of the disease

Pascal Emmanuel Gobry writes about the Christian tradition of  Kissing Corpses

If you have loved ones who die, it is particularly helpful to have the children kiss the corpse. When my grandfather died, the body lay in state in his home office for a couple days, and we each bid our goodbyes–with a kiss. The kiss is essential, because nothing drives home better, at a deep, bone-level, the reality of the death of the loved one. And grasping this reality is very helpful to the grieving process. (Actually, one of my aunts wouldn’t let her small children see the corpse. So of course the kids had nightmares about the mysterious corpse in the other room. The other kids didn’t.)

And the kiss also robs death of its magic. The evolution of the species has bred in us an instinctive holy terror of corpses–but death has been vanquished by Christ, and Christians have no fear of death. To kiss a corpse is to get over, and proclaim that one has gotten over, this natural instinct, that one has defeated it, by the grace of the Paraclete sent by the Risen Christ. It simultaneously shows love of the loved one and the casual indifference to death that marks out the believing Christian. A corpse is, at best, a kind of icon, and icons are kissed.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying

Stealing from dying patients

Fake doctor who snuck on to cancer wards to steal from the bedsides of dying hospital patients is jailed for seven years

A woman who posed as a hospital doctor to steal from the bedsides of ill and dying patients was jailed for seven years today.
June Weatherman stole from elderly cancer patients, mostly aged in the eighties, taking their bank cards before withdrawing thousands of pounds from their accounts.

When she was arrested she tried to claim she was only being targeted because she was mixed race, but was ultimately convicted of 15 charges of theft and fraud at Guilford Crown Court.

Prosecuter Ruby Selva said that Weatherman, 50, had stalked the corridors of hospitals across the South of England looking for opportunities to steal handbags and wallets.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:57 AM | Permalink
Categories: Dead used for propaganda or profit | Categories: Death and Dying

September 27, 2014

Parting words after practical joke turns painful

Parting Words

The 2007 funeral of Amir Vehabović was poorly attended — 46 people had been invited to the ceremony, but only his mother turned up.  The other 45 received this letter:

To all my dear ‘friends,’

Some of you I have known since early school days, others I have only forged a relationship with in the last few years. Until my ‘funeral,’ I considered all of you close friends. So it was with shock and, I admit, sadness and anger that I realized not one of you managed to find the time to come and say goodbye to me when you heard I was to be buried. I would have understood if just some of you came, bearing flowers or words of apology from others who could not make it. But no. Not a single one of you turned up to pay your last respects. I lived for our friendships. They meant as much to me as life itself. But how easy it was for you all to forget the pledges of undying friendship I heard on so many occasions. How different our ideas of friendship seem to be. I paid a lot of money to get a fake death certificate and to bribe undertakers to handle an empty coffin. I thought my funeral would be a good joke — the kind of prank we have all played on one another over the years. Now I have just one last message for you: my ‘funeral’ might have been staged, but you might as well consider me dead, because I will not be seeing any of you again.

Amir should read about Francis J Moriarty better known as "Turk"  who threw himself a funeral every year

It was always an affair to remember.

''We made a plywood coffin we'd strap to the top of Billy Hunt's '66 Rambler American -- the car was worth about six cents -- and we'd drive to the cemetery," recalls Richie Polin, a friend of Turk. ''We'd put the bottles on top of the grave -- the headstone was already there. There'd be maybe a hundred of us. Turk would watch from a distance to see who came."

Some of the women who attended actually cried, despite the fact they knew Turk was lurking nearby. (According to Polin, Turk was a bank robber who did hard time for this pastime, later an employee of the Boston Housing Authority, and a poet whose talent was inversely proportional to the amount of bourbon he consumed.)

The whole motley crew would then repair to the now-defunct Sydney's on Green Street in Jamaica Plain -- a bar so named for the leviathan actor Sydney Greenstreet -- to continue the festivities. Perpetual gadfly Dapper O'Neil called the rite ''a most impressive ceremony," according to Jerry Burke.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink
Categories: Funerals, Burials and Cremations

September 22, 2014

Grave fashion

In Egypt.  3,000-year-old remains of woman unearthed with 70 hair extensions tied in intricate layers

The skull was one of hundreds found in the ancient city of Amarna, many of which had their final hairstyles incredibly well-preserved using fat….Some of the skulls shows evidence of a dye, possibly henna, used on hair.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:12 AM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves | Categories: Funerals, Burials and Cremations
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As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death - Leonardo da Vinci

Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.-James Dean.

I would like to believe when I die that I have given myself away like a tree that sows seed every spring and never counts the loss, because it is not loss, it is adding to future life. It is the tree's way of being. Strongly rooted perhaps, but spilling out its treasure on the wind.- May Sarton

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