September 19, 2017

Cemetery roundup

In 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, Loren Rhoads is quite specific about appropriate behavior in graveyards.

“Rule number one is be respectful. Even cemeteries that are closed to new burials deserve to be treated like something precious and irreplaceable, because they are.”

 Merry Cemetery Includes Poems
Markers in Merry Cemetery in Romania include poems about the deceased.

The 10 Iconic Cemeteries That Made Death Beautiful

The history of the rural cemetery movement, which brought Victorians to picnic among tombstones...With names like “Green-Wood” and “Forest Lawn,” graveyards came off as places of natural respite, not of decay and foreboding. Grassy lawns, flowering trees, and reflective ponds made them as much a place of repose for the living as for the dead. The skulls and crossbones of 16th century grave markers were replaced by more artistic, interpretive symbols like lambs, lilies, and open books.

 Mt.Auburn Cemetery Atlas
Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Cemetery manager buried the dead on top of each other in £14k fraud campaign

A crooked cemetery official made thousands of pounds by burying the dead on top of each other in a nine year campaign of fraud against grieving families.  William Henderson, the former superintendent at Edinburgh's Mount Vernon Cemetery,  defrauded the archdiocese that runs the city's only Catholic cemetery of thousands by illegally selling forged burial deeds and also pocketed hundreds of pounds in cash after selling space that had been reserved by families for future use and in parts of the cemetery where burials were not allowed, such as footpaths and access routes.

Construction workers in China discover centuries old well-preserved corpse buried with its favorite fan

The man is thought to have died sometime during the Ming (1368 to 1644 AD) or Qing (1644 to 1912) dynasties. He was unearthed in Zhizhu village, Anhua County in China's Hunan province dressed in fine fabrics and laid to rest with his favorite fan.

 The Man Was Also Laid To Rest With His Favourite Fan Hinting Tha-A-32 1504281264695

Professional gravediggers go digging for victory
The bizarre tournament in Hungary where.... winners of the event go on to compete in an international tournament against gravediggers from Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.  Organizers said last year that they hoped the race would help increase respect and recognition for the gravedigging profession and attract more people to the job, which is under threat from the increasing popularity of cremations.

 Hungarian Gravedigger Contest

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:20 PM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves

September 9, 2017

Lanterns of the Dead Lighting the Way

The Lanterns of the Dead

 Lanterns Of The Dead

At some point in the early part of the 12th century, people in the center and west of France began to erect strange constructions – effectively hollow towers with a hole for a lantern at the top - near or in their village graveyards (and before you ask, most were nowhere near the sea).  Although many were moved or destroyed during the revolution, about a hundred survive to this day.  Known as Lanterns of the Dead (Lanternes des Morts) their precise original use is still debated. In the French capital, Paris, a system of street lanterns did not evolve until the late 1500s. ..So why did the French place the only significant night-time light near or smack bang in the middle of their graveyards?...

One theory - Protection from plague

In times of plague, the flame from the lamp might serve as a way for the villagers to quickly transfer fire to their hearths without coming in to contact with each other – a pestilential pilot light, as it were. People could visit the lantern in isolation so helping to slow or halt the spread of disease.  This sounds plausible enough, no?...As time moved on, churches would remain at the heart of the village but medical advances pointed clinical fingers at the sanitary implications of burying the dead so close to where the living resided.  Graveyards were moved lock, stock and coffin to the periphery of many villages and the lantern of the dead was taken along too. ....

The First Crusade

Yet even though they had served the purpose of honoring the dead, Eygun’s research uncovered another reason for their construction – one which was no doubt their primary purpose, at least in terms of utility. Incredibly, they are intimately connected with the First Crusade (1095-1099), the first medieval military expedition made by Europeans to recover the Holy Land and one church in particular.  The Church the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem had been destroyed by the Caliph Hakem in 1009.  When the city was seized by crusaders ninety years later in 1099, orders were given for the church to be rebuilt at once.

It would serve to remind the population of Jerusalem who was now in charge. The builders constructed a spiral staircase leading to the top of the building. There they placed a giant lantern to symbolize the resurrection of Christ which shone over Jerusalem from 1100 till 1187, when the city fell to Saladin, the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria.

As such, it is now believed that the majority of the lanterns were erected by local nobility or monastics as an undoubted souvenir of the time they spent on the First Crusade. Specifically, they wished to evoke the presence of the remarkable church in Jerusalem where they worshiped in some awe of its magnificent lantern, the rays of which illuminated the city nightly.  There is, moreover, a definite correlation between the period of time during which the lanterns were developed in France and the era of the Latin Kingdoms in the Holy Land – the first three quarters of the 12th century....

It should be noted here that the First Crusade began as a pilgrimage before it descended in to the brutality of a military expedition ...  So, again, what better to mark the route of a pilgrimage than lanterns which echo the sight to be found at the endpoint of the most desirable of all – the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem?...

Lighting the way to Santiago

The route that the French lanterns take does not, of course, terminate in Jerusalem.  Rather they guide travelers towards the city of Santiago de Compostela, the Galician capital in northwestern Spain.  This was one of the most important medieval pilgrimages, after those to Rome and Jerusalem:
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:24 PM | Permalink
Categories: Memory, Memorials

"Some future somewhere is floating on down" "

Your Threads Have Come Undone: A Letter to a Grieving Husband

I did not know you. I did not know your wife. All I know is your love story ended long before you were ready, and now you live in a story unfolding. Like a tapestry...your threads have come undone. I know the hopelessness of holding on, of letting go.... 

From somewhere in the high heavens, the places I could not see, far beyond my gaze, there was a future floating down. I was alive, feet on the earth, so I could not outrun that future and slowly it covered me up.  There is, my dear friend, in the heart of every living being, the will to go on.

For all the dark days ahead, for all the love story you’ve lived, the lives you’ve loved, a spark of light, a hope for life grows stronger day by day, night by long night.  You will find the strength you need to continue putting your feet, one in front of the other, firmly on the earth. Some future somewhere is floating on down.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 AM | Permalink
Categories: Grief and grieving

August 31, 2017

Marine laid to rest after 74 years

Marine Corps Pfc. George B. Murray was buried with full military honors Friday at the Arroyo Grande Cemetery, nearly 74 years after his death in World War II.

 Marine Murray 74 Years

Pfc. Murray, of Oceano, died during a battle in the Tarawa Atoll and was buried on the island. In recent years, according to the Department of Defense, his remains were recovered during an archaeological mission and positively identified thanks to laboratory testing.

Murray's remains arrived back in California on Wednesday. On Friday, people waving American flags lined Highway 1 as the procession escorting his casket made its way through Oceano to the cemetery where Murray was buried. His casket was placed on top of his mother's...

"The family has been working on it for the last 8 years, and we finally succeeded in bringing him back to his mother. His mother has always waited and has waited for him to come back," said George Winslett, George Murray's nephew.

"There is nothing in words to really say. It just chokes me up to think about it. It's amazing and I'd like to thank everybody that's done it," Winslett said. "He's finally home at rest where he belongs."

 Marine Murray Honor Guard

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:23 PM | Permalink
Categories: Funerals, Burials and Cremations

Grave robbers in Georgia

Grave robbers ransack historic cemetery where Revolutionary War and Confederate soldiers were buried.

A substantial reward is being offered following the discovery of grave robberies in Burke County this morning (Saturday) at a historic cemetery  At least five graves were excavated at Old Church cemetery off Idlewood Road south of Waynesboro, the bones of soldiers and an infant scattered as thieves likely searched for artifacts, personal effects and precious metal.

The unsettling scene was discovered by the Commander of American Legion Post 120, which is entrusted with the care of the cemetery, when he went there to mow the grass. “I came around here and saw this marker moved and the grave dug up and just thought, ‘What in God’s name?”
Bell said it’s unclear what might have been stolen from the graves, but what they left behind was disturbing.
Just beyond torn shards of one soldier’s uniform, the dentures from his mouth were left lying beside the hole of his grave...The robbers dug up the cast iron casket of baby Emma Jane McElmurray, who died at 13 months old in 1884, and smashed the iridescent glass at its head. All that was left of its contents were portions of her tiny skull and the sole of her infant shoe, which had been dumped on the ground beside the casket.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:15 PM | Permalink
Categories: Dead used for propaganda or profit

August 26, 2017

"Does this look beautiful? Am I treating the deceased kindly?'

Drop dead gorgeous


 Corpse Dressing Contest

The Life Ending Industry EXPO 2017 in Tokyo is Japan's biggest funeral exhibition and celebrates rituals of dressing the dead. In Shinto teaching, the practice is thought to help purify the soul of corpses. The contestants dress live volunteers on a stage in front of undertaking experts.  The four contestants were judged on the grace of their movements and their ability to dress the body without revealing too much bare skin.

Female Japanese undertaker, Rino Terai, 23, won the contest by dressing the best-looking corpses before three judges as funeral music played gently in the background. After the ritualistic competition, she  said: 'I practiced every day to prepare for this competition.  I took videos and made improvements by asking myself, does this look beautiful? Am I treating the deceased kindly?'

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:48 PM | Permalink
Categories: Funerals, Burials and Cremations

August 23, 2017

More bizarre deaths

Part of an intermittent series, these short snippets of untimely and unexpected deaths can not begin to hint at the grief and loss their families and friends will experience for years to come.  May their memory be a blessing. May they all Rest in Peace and perpetual light shine upon them. 

Mountain biker, 24, is struck and killed by lightning in front of his horrified girlfriend

John Huisjen was mountain biking outside Telluride, Colorado, Sunday afternoon when a storm rolled in and he was struck by lightning. His girlfriend, Caitlin Lucas, was also hurt but was able to run for help. An off-duty EMT tried to revive Huisjen with  CPR before paramedics arrived but his efforts failed.

 Josh Huisjen Struck Lightening

12 people are crushed to death when a tree crashes down on crowds during religious festival

At least 50 people were injured, including a baby in a pram, when a 200-year-old oak came down over dozens of people waiting to buy candles outside a church as a procession was leaving during the Festa da Senhora do Monte, a festival celebrating the island's patron saint in Monte, a village on the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Two 19-year-old friends die after falling 150-feet off a cliff in 'freak accident' while climbing Mount Hood

The bodies of Emma Place and Emily Lang were found on rocks at the base of a waterfall six miles from the Timberline Lodge on Saturday. Authorities said the women had set up camp at the top of a waterfall and it appeared they lost their footing on the slippery rocks and fell.

Mother is electrocuted by her child's dirty diaper.

A mother, named as Annu, was electrocuted by her child's dirty nappy after it hit a power cable after she threw it off  the terrace of her relative's home in southwest Delhi's Bindapur, India.  The diaper is said to have struck an overhead power cable as she launched it towards a patch of open land.  'She got a strong electric jolt from the wire and was thrown back on the roof. The intensity of the shock was so strong that her clothes caught fire, resulting in burn injuries.'  She was taken to hospital, but was later pronounced dead.

Women's body  'cut in half' by an elevator as she was transported on a stretcher moments after giving birth

A husband heard a 'loud blow' as his wife's body was 'cut in half' by a lift as she was transported on a stretcher moments after giving birth.  Rocío Cortés Núñez, 25, who lived in the town of Dos Hermanas near Seville, is said to have been killed as she was transported on a stretcher between the second and third floors of the Valme Hospital in Seville, southern Spain. She was being taken to a maternity unit after waking up following a C-section...One local report said the lift began to function unexpectedly before Rocio was fully in and the doors had closed, causing her head to become trapped.

 Rocioz Cortes Nunez

Man 'Killed By Boat Propeller' While Spreading Father's Ashes

59-year-old Robert Louis from Lake Orion, Michigan died shortly after he and six other passengers fell out of their boat in Lake Superior.  The group was on a 19 foot wooden kit boat, and were out to honor the final wishes of Louis' father who died two weeks earlier after years of battling Alzheimer's.

A witness from shore told police he saw the boat take a sharp turn for reasons unknown at this time, spilling everyone on the boat into Lake Superior. Police say the the throttle was still open when everyone fell out. "What I gathered from the information was, he tried to grab the boat as it was circling around him or them and the prop hit him and I'm not sure if it made it so he couldn't swim or if it injured him bad enough to be life threatening," ...

Woman, 50, on vacation with her daughter and two friends 'falls off a rooftop deck balcony after laughing very hard' during a holiday in Mexico and dies of her injuries

Sharon Regoli Ciferno, 50, a sixth-grade social studies teacher in western Pennsylvania, was sitting on a rooftop deck bench that had no back. She started laughing very hard, threw her head back, lost her balance and fell off. 

 Sharon Regoli Ciferno

Couple tragically killed in a boating accident while watching the total solar eclipse in Idaho

 Idaho Couple Killed Solar Eclipse

Elaine and Neal Jenkins were in a boat being operated by Mike Kingston when all three were ejected while trying to complete a turn in the water. The boat then struck all three of them as it turned in circles around them.  Rescuers were stymied as the boat spun out of control until it finally ran out of gas and they could finally move in.  Kingston was taken by helicopter to hospital where his condition remains unknown. 

Susanna DeForest, 20, suddenly started vomiting while on a hiking trip with friends in Colorado and died from 'acute altitude sickness'

Two of her friends left to get help while another stayed with DeForest on the trail. Rescuers weren't to reach DeForest and by the time they arrived she had died. Police said the friends left a bit late in the afternoon but had the proper gear, water and food and were prepared to spend the night at the hot springs and hike out the next day. The Conundrum Creek Trail  takes almost a full day to complete, with '5-8 hours to hike in and 3-6 hours to hike out, on average'. It's described as highly elevated, 'beginning at about 8,000 feet and ending at about 11,200 feet' and 'almost entirely uphill' on the trek in.

 Susanna Deforest

American woman, 26, dies from food poisoning on bucket list trip to Mexico before she lost her sight

 Alexandra Noghaven+Sister

Alexandra Noghaven, 26, (right) died suddenly in Mexico City from diabetes complications while she was trying to see the world before she went blind. She was traveling with her sister Genevieve 'Jonvi' Del Sol (left) who posted this picture the day after Noghaven died.  On the night of August 15, Noghaven had a bout of food poisoning and the next day the US Embassy called her mother Anne Jackaway in Miami to tell her that Noghaven had died.  Jackaway said 'She spent her free time off traveling the world and seeing what would be lost to her.' Jackaway believes the food poisoning 'probably sent her blood sugars out of whack so she didn’t realize her vulnerability falling asleep'.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 PM | Permalink
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Lanterns of the Dead Lighting the Way
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Marine laid to rest after 74 years
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More bizarre deaths
Death as a Career Move
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More bizarre deaths, every one a tragedy to their families and friends
They died while defending Leningrad (St Petersburg) when it was under siege for more than 2 years in WW2
Lady Dai, more than 2000 years old and skin still soft to the touch
Why did they bury the killer in the same grave as his victims in the first place?
"It is very beautiful over there"
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Elephants remember
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On May 1, Remember the 100 million UPDATED
'I never thought I'd die this way.'
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More bizarre deaths
When the State Becomes Lord of Life and Death

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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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