December 5, 2016

The Art of Dying Well

The Catholic Church has long had an interest in helping those faced with the prospect of death and dying and a fund of experience to share in was traditionally called the art of dying well, or in Latin, Ars Moriendi.  Sensing this was a good time to look afresh at that tradition, the Catholic Church of England and Wales devised a new website called The Art of Dying Well.

It's an excellent website and not just for Catholics.  A quick excerpt:

The underlying ethos of the art of dying well applies just as well to anyone of any, or no faith, undergoing the final journey. All of us will fall, all of us will need help, and all of us can use the experience we gain in helping people on the climb creatively for the good of others.

There are several sections and short videos in each section.
What is dying well? 

While a good death will mean different things to us all, there are many universal questions

Talking about death

Aside from birth, dying is the only other experience we will all share. So why is it so hard to talk about it? And, why is it so important that we should?

Facing death personally

Living with the knowledge that death is close at hand can take a huge emotional toll. Knowing that your feelings are normal and expected, may help you to cope.

Losing a loved one

Losing someone you love is undeniably painful, but rising above grief and connecting spiritually to something greater might help you to find meaning.

Caring for the dying

This is an excellent website

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:07 PM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying | Categories: Good Death

December 1, 2016

“This is how dying should be”

The Sisters Who Treat the Untreatable. At a Catholic nursing home in New York, comforting patients who are dying of cancer.

Rosary, which is run by Catholic nuns and accepts no payment from the families of those they treat — all of them with incurable cancer. The nuns, who are members of the Dominican order, care for those of all religions and backgrounds — Laub’s mother-­in-­law was Jewish — and live by the prescient words of its founder, Rose Hawthorne Lathrop, a daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne: “We cannot cure our patients, but we can assure the dignity and value of their final days, and keep them comfortable and free of pain.”
As the nuns cared for their guests, Laub followed them with her camera — it’s her way. Then, even after her mother-­in-­law died in late September, she found herself returning to Rosary again and again, still wanting to capture something of the kindness that her family had found there. She asked the nuns to sit for portraits, in which she stripped away the background to show their eyes and faces in clear focus. “I wanted them to be quiet,” she said, “so their power could come through.”

Gillian Laub photographer

The nuns in particular had moved her. She was struck by their tenderness with the dying, how they painted women’s fingernails and combed their hair, changed them into fresh nightgowns and arranged flowers in their rooms. “This is how dying should be,” Laub says. “It doesn’t feel like a place of death. It feels like a place of living.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:04 PM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying

November 28, 2016

Fidel Castro - The Legacy of a Tyrant

While progressives and the mainstream media fall all over themselves praising Castro, the truth is quite different. 

On YouTube A Miami Funeral: The "Legacy" of Fidel Castro by David Vargas.  About 3 minutes long, it's well worth watching if only to see the joy of the Cuban exiles at the death of a tyrant.

As a filmmaker I aspire to tell fictional stories, but until now I have only been able to make a living telling real ones. Sitting on the couch last night at 2am learning about Fidel Castro's death was such a surreal moment for me, because it's a topic that has been discussed in my family since I can remember. The decision my grandparents made, along with so many others, to put everything on the line and abandon everything they knew and loved from one day to the next is unfathomable. All I know is that I am so grateful that they took that chance, because it paved the way for my parents to pursue things my grandparents never could, thus extending those opportunities to my sister and I. Knowing that one of the centers for celebration was only minutes from my doorstep, I decided to get off the couch, grab my camera and go tell this story which is deeply engraved in my DNA.

In the Miami Herald There is no RIP for Fidel Castro in Miami. Just good riddance

This is an iconic moment. Generations of Cubans, Cuban-Americans and our children in Miami, capital of exiles, are celebrating his physical erasure with an ardor reserved for World Series and NBA titles. Behold this hashtag on social media: #myabuelitosarehavingapartyinheaven.

Don’t judge us harshly. Give us this moment. Our exile is his doing. There’s no RIP from us for the embodiment of evil in our collective and personal histories.

Fidel Castro’s Communist Utopia.  He turned a developing Cuba into an impoverished prison.

Fidel Castro’s legacy of 57 years in power is best understood by the fates of two groups of his countrymen—those who remained in Cuba and suffered impoverishment and dictatorship, and those who were lucky or brave enough to flee to America to make their way in freedom. No progressive nostalgia after his death Friday at age 90 should disguise this murderous and tragic record.

The Cuba that Castro inherited was developing but relatively prosperous. It ranked third in Latin America in doctors and dentists and daily calorie consumption per capita. Its infant-mortality rate was the lowest in the region and the 13th lowest in the world. Cubans were among the most literate Latins and had a vibrant civic life with private professional, commercial, religious and charitable organizations.

Castro destroyed all that. He ruined agriculture by imposing collective farms, making Cuba dependent first on the Soviets and later on oil from Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela. In the past half century Cuba’s export growth has been less than Haiti’s, and now even doctors are scarce because so many are sent abroad to earn foreign currency. Hospitals lack sheets and aspirin. The average monthly income is $20 and government food rations are inadequate.

Michael Totten visited Havana in 2014 and gives us the flavor of living in the ruins of The Last Communist City 

Outside its small tourist sector, the rest of the city looks as though it suffered a catastrophe on the scale of Hurricane Katrina or the Indonesian tsunami. Roofs have collapsed. Walls are splitting apart. Window glass is missing. Paint has long vanished. It’s eerily dark at night, almost entirely free of automobile traffic. I walked for miles through an enormous swath of destruction without seeing a single tourist. Most foreigners don’t know that this other Havana exists, though it makes up most of the city—tourist buses avoid it, as do taxis arriving from the airport. It is filled with people struggling to eke out a life in the ruins.
Cuba was one of the world’s richest countries before Castro destroyed it—and the wealth wasn’t just in the hands of a tiny elite. “Contrary to the myth spread by the revolution,” wrote Alfred Cuzan, a professor of political science at the University of West Florida, “Cuba’s wealth before 1959 was not the purview of a privileged few. . . . Cuban society was as much of a middle-class society as Argentina and Chile.” In 1958, Cuba had a higher per-capita income than much of Europe. “
In the United States, we have a minimum wage; Cuba has a maximum wage—$20 a month for almost every job in the country. (Professionals such as doctors and lawyers can make a whopping $10 extra a month.)...As for the free health care, patients have to bring their own medicine, their own bedsheets, and even their own iodine to the hospital.

13 FACTS ABOUT FIDEL CASTRO by Carlos Eire, a professor of history and religious studies at Yale University

● He turned Cuba into a colony of the Soviet Union and nearly caused a nuclear holocaust.
● He sponsored terrorism wherever he could and allied himself with many of the worst dictators on earth.
● He was responsible for so many thousands of executions and disappearances in Cuba that a precise number is hard to reckon.
● He brooked no dissent and built concentration camps and prisons at an unprecedented rate, filling them to capacity, incarcerating a higher percentage of his own people than most other modern dictators, including Stalin.
● He condoned and encouraged torture and extrajudicial killings.
● He forced nearly 20 percent of his people into exile, and prompted thousands to meet their deaths at sea, unseen and uncounted, while fleeing from him in crude vessels.
● He claimed all property for himself and his henchmen, strangled food production and impoverished the vast majority of his people.
● He outlawed private enterprise and labor unions, wiped out Cuba’s large middle class and turned Cubans into slaves of the state.
● He persecuted gay people and tried to eradicate religion.
● He censored all means of expression and communication.

Castro wanted nuclear war against the U.S.

The evidence is that Castro advocated striking the U.S. with Soviet nukes. Via Andrew Stuttaford, is an excerpt from a letter Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev sent to Castro after the Cuban missile crisis:
...In your cable of October 27 you proposed that we be the first to carry out a nuclear strike against the enemy’s territory. Naturally you understand where that would lead us. It would not be a simple strike, but the start of a thermonuclear world war.

Glenn Reynolds in US Today Castro and his ilk showed us that under socialism, the powerful grow rich — and everyone else grows poor.

He spent his life railing against the excesses of capitalism, but he lived his life as a king. Forbes estimated his wealth in 2006 at $900 million.  Fidel Castro had 20 luxury homes, a private island, an 88ft yacht - and mistresses galore.  His private bodyguard of 17 years described how Castro offered Colombian cocaine traffickers safe haven for cash and directed "illegal operations like a real godfather.”

Castro created a police state and brought the world to the brink of Armageddon,

Castro’s frightened subjects dared not speak his name. They feared they would be overheard by ever-present secret police spies,  The ‘Committees for the Defence of the Revolution’, present in every workplace, school and street, watched everyone, reported every word out of place and ruined the lives of those who spoke out of turn.

History Will Not Absolve Fidel Castro by Henry Gomez

Castro’s half-century rule of Cuba was characterized by foreign interventions, terrorism, and espionage in Africa (the Congo, Angola), the Americas (Nicaragua, El Salvador, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, and Grenada to name a few), and even Asia (it has been reported that Cuban torturers were used by the North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War).

Despite five decades of propaganda to the contrary, Cuba has deteriorated in almost every imaginable measure of quality of life under Castro’s rule. Food rationing, which was introduced as a “temporary” measure in 1962, persists to this day. Infrastructure is crumbling and even literacy gains are not so impressive considering the gains of other Latin American countries that have not been subjected to decades of totalitarian rule. ....

Fidel Castro will be known most of all for his broken promises. The popular revolution he led was a promise of a better life. Instead what Cubans received were the worst examples of oppression and repression in the history of the western hemisphere. History will not absolve Fidel Castro. On the contrary, it will condemn him. Millions of eyewitnesses will see to that.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:22 AM | Permalink

November 18, 2016

More bizarre deaths

Death by gravestone. Heartbroken mother, 25, found her son, eight, dying in a cemetery when he was crushed to death by a falling gravestone while playing with his friends. 

Ciaran Williamson and four friends were playing in a Glasgow cemetery when they
climbed through a hole in the wall and went climbing a tree. Ciaran jumped onto a gravestone which collapsed on him and his friends. One friend tried to help him but couldn't because his foot was jammed. Another ran to Ciaran's house and told his parents what had happened

Death by hickey
Mexican teen dies of a stroke after a 'HICKEY given by his 24-year-old girlfriend formed a blood clot that traveled to his brain

Julio Macias Gonzalez had a bruise on his neck, given to him by his 24-year-old girlfriend, according to Hoy Estado De Mexico.  He was at home with his family in the Iztapalapa borough when he began having strong convulsions.  Julio's relatives caused emergency services, but paramedics could not save him. They later attributed his death to the hickey on his neck.  They said the bruise caused a blood clot to form, which then traveled to his brain, causing a stroke.

Death while broadcasting stunt on Facebook 
Italian wingsuit pilot broadcasts his own death live on Facebook as daring Alps jump ends in tragedy

An Italian wingsuit pilot who crashed down to his death in the Alps was broadcasting his daring jump live on Facebook...
The 28-year-old, named locally as Armin Schmieder, told his fans 'today you fly with me' before his leap, from a mountain top near Kandersteg in Switzerland, ended in tragedy.  His body was recovered near Kandersteg, a popular BASE jumping location.

Death by Dentist 
One-year-old girl died under anesthesia while her dentist fixed 'six cavities' -

An autopsy revealed she did NOT need the procedure. There was nothing wrong with Daisy's baby teeth and did not need any dental work.

Death by display. 
Science teacher, 41, dies after breaking her leg in a freak accident while putting up a display in her classroom

Popular teacher was putting up a display ahead of the start of term.  Science and health teacher Lynsey Haycock was taken to hospital with a broken leg, but died the next day as a result of medical complications.

Death by Selfie 
127 selfie-related deaths globally since March 2014 in quest for the perfect picture on cliff edges and near trains

An incredible 76 people have died taking pictures of themselves in India, which is more than double the amount from the rest of the world... Experts blamed people's desire for more 'likes' and comments on social media for driving increasingly risky selfie-taking
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:17 PM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying

"The only museum with its curator—and her pets—buried inside"

Peggy Guggenheim's Grave

Peggy Guggenheim’s ashes are interred in her private palazzo and museum in Venice, and her companions in death are much the same as her companions in life. It’s her beloved “babies,” her 14 Lhasa Apsos.

 Peggy Guggenheim+14 Dogs

The niece of Solomon Guggenheim, founder of the famed Guggenheim Museum, Peggy Guggenheim was arguably the greatest art collector and patron of the 20th century. She eventually opened her private collection to the public, and it soon became one of the most popular museums in Italy and the most visited in Venice.

After she died of a stroke in 1979, Peggy Guggenheim’s ashes were interred in her palazzo, Vernier dei Leoni, which is connected to the museum. Here, visitors can drop by to see the stately plaque commemorating the art lover. However, the plaque next to Peggy’s eulogize those she loved most. It’s not one of her many lovers or her ex-husband, painter Max Ernst. Peggy had Cappuccino, Peacock, Pegeen, Toro, Foglia, Madam Butterfly, Baby, Emily, White Angel, Sir Herbert, Sable, Gypsy, Hong Kong, and Cellida interred next to her so that they might spend the afterlife together.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 PM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves

The only museum with its curator—and her pets—buried inside

Peggy Guggenheim's Grave

Peggy Guggenheim’s ashes are interred in her private palazzo and museum in Venice, and her companions in death are much the same as her companions in life. It’s her beloved “babies,” her 14 Lhasa Apsos.

 Peggy Guggenheim+14 Dogs

The niece of Solomon Guggenheim, founder of the famed Guggenheim Museum, Peggy Guggenheim was arguably the greatest art collector and patron of the 20th century. She eventually opened her private collection to the public, and it soon became one of the most popular museums in Italy and the most visited in Venice.

After she died of a stroke in 1979, Peggy Guggenheim’s ashes were interred in her palazzo, Vernier dei Leoni, which is connected to the museum. Here, visitors can drop by to see the stately plaque commemorating the art lover. However, the plaque next to Peggy’s eulogize those she loved most. It’s not one of her many lovers or her ex-husband, painter Max Ernst. Peggy had Cappuccino, Peacock, Pegeen, Toro, Foglia, Madam Butterfly, Baby, Emily, White Angel, Sir Herbert, Sable, Gypsy, Hong Kong, and Cellida interred next to her so that they might spend the afterlife together.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 PM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves

November 12, 2016

Turning corpses into light

The Future of Death Could Be a Shiny Cemetery Beneath the Manhattan Bridge

Imagine the Manhattan Bridge twinkling from underneath with hundreds of small pods filled with decaying biomass – the final resting place of many former New Yorkers, shining like stars in an otherwise dark sky.

 Constellation Park Light Pods

There, you might lay flowers near a pod containing the remains of a loved one, until decomposition finishes its course and all that remains is a container to keep as a remembrance.

This is the vision that is Constellation Park, a shiny new cemetery proposed by DeathLab, a trans-disciplinary research and design space at Columbia University. For the past five years, DeathLab has been focused—during an era of global warming, overcrowding and leave-no-trace environmentalism—on solving the problem of last rites in New York, where an average of 144 bodies stack up per day.

That, in turn, totals around half a million plots per decade, consuming nearly all of the ground left in the dozens of cemeteries and polluting the air with cremation smog in the New York metropolitan area.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  (Hebrews 12:1)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 AM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves
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The only museum with its curator—and her pets—buried inside
Turning corpses into light
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Bizarre deaths

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Quotes of Note

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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