March 30, 2010

Dying of thirst in hospital

Dying hospital patient phoned switchboard begging for a drink after nurses said No

A patient desperate for a drink of water had to telephone the switchboard of the hospital he was being treated in to beg to see a doctor.

Derek Sauter, 60, used his mobile phone to request medical attention after his pleas for help were ignored. But when the doctor arrived he was turned away by ward nurse Caroline Lowe, who said Mr Sauter was 'over-reacting' and threatened to confiscate his phone.

Eight hours later the grandfather-of-three, who was suffering with a chest infection, was dead.

Rather than offering sympathy to Susan, Mr Sauter's wife of 41 years, Miss Lowe later told her that he could have been prosecuted for harassing the doctor on call.

She has since been sacked by the hospital, but has not been suspended by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, who are investigating.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:27 AM | Permalink

March 29, 2010

Do you want to be buried with your cellphone or TV remote?

From Obit, the new site and magazine all about obituaries, comes The Crowded Casket,

Since the beginning of burials, man has often gone to the grave with company. These days, funeral directors grant most requests: a shotgun … a case of beer … a bottle of Jack Daniels … some favorite cigars … golf clubs, usually putters … a clarinet … a tool belt … homemade wine … Oreo cookies … hot peppers.
“Out here, everyone gets buried with their cell phone,’’ said Noelle Berman, a family counselor at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. “Cell phones. Blackberrys. Wii Consoles.’’
“Nowadays, you have the TV remote,’’ said Bill O’Leary, a Philadelphia funeral director. “That’s like the hottest thing.’’

Imagine that, the ridiculousness of being buried with your TV remote.

Still and all, I had a chuckle at the 97-year-old grandmother who loved to pop bubble wrap and her grandchildren who put a sheet of bubblewrap in the casket

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:55 AM | Permalink

March 24, 2010

Holding hands at the end

Devoted couple separated by illness after 75 years transferred to same hospital so they could hold hands in final moments

Ted and Mary Williams fell in love as teenagers 75 years ago and have been inseperable since tying the knot in 1941

But when they both fell ill earlier this month Mary, 87, was admitted to Southmead Hospital in Bristol with pneumonia and 90-year-old Ted to the city's Frenchay Hospital with heart problems.

From her sickbed, Mary wrote a love letter to her husband asking him to come and see her. So caring hospital staff devised a plan to ensure the pair spent their final hours together - and transferred Ted across the city onto Mary's ward at Southmead.

She passed away just three hours after Ted arrived on March 10th, holding hands in adjacent beds.

After her death he quickly 'faded away' and died three weeks later of heart failure.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:56 AM | Permalink

March 23, 2010

No Angel of Mercy

A male nurse in Minnesota has been linked by police to several suicides he encouraged for his own amusement.

46 year old William Francis Melchert-Dinkel a married father of two has allegedly cruised the Internet for a number of years looking for suicidal people whom he could persuade to kill themselves on webcam for his amusement.

While posing as a young woman, Melchert-Dinkel would befriend his victims and provide them with assistance. According to the UK Daily Mail.

"Most important is the placement of the noose on the neck,' he allegedly wrote in one web chat. He then went on to detail where to place the knot ‘for instant unconsciousness and death.'

He has allegedly admitted to U.S. police that he was involved in at least four deaths, including that of an 18-year-old Canadian student Nadia Kajouji.

This Nurse No Angel of Mercy

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:18 AM | Permalink

March 22, 2010

“He became so much nicer after he died"

A.J. Ayer was a professor of logic at Oxford University, Britain's most eminent philosopher and most famous atheist.

Recuperating in hospital after a heart attack that nearly killed him, Professor Ayer choked on some smoked salmon smuggled into him by well-meaning friends.  He was 'clinically dead' for four minutes.

The doctor who treated for the heart attack returned to Ayer's bedside

“I came back to talk to him later that evening,” he told Cash. “Very discreetly, I asked him, as a philosopher, what was it like to have had a near-death experience? He suddenly looked rather sheepish. Then he said, ‘I saw a Divine Being. I’m afraid I’m going to have to revise all my various books and opinions.’

“He clearly said ‘Divine Being,’” said Dr. George. “He was confiding in me, and I think he was slightly embarrassed because it was unsettling for him as an atheist. He spoke in a very confidential manner. I think he felt he had come face to face with God, or his maker, or what one might say was God.

While he never spoke of this conversation publicly or to his family, he had changed.

When Ayer was released by his doctors a month later, friends and family did notice that he’d changed.

“He became so much nicer after he died,” was the mordant way my mother-in-law, Dee Wells, put it to Cash. “He was not nearly so boastful. He took an interest in other people.”

What she also noticed is that as his life ebbed away, Ayer began spending a great deal of time with Father Frederick Copleston,
“In the end, he was Freddie's closest friend,” said Dee. “It was quite extraordinary.”

An Atheist Meets the Masters of the Universe

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:38 PM | Permalink

March 20, 2010

Pricked by a thorn

Pensioner dies after pricking finger on rose bush

A pensioner has died after pricking his finger on a rose bush while gardening at home.

George Emmerson, 73, didn't realise a thorn from the plant he was pruning back had become embedded into his finger and developed blood poisoning.

His arm had to be amputated and he died a week after the apparently trivial incident.

Mr Emmerson was married with three children and three grandchildren, who have been stunned by the freak gardening tragedy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 AM | Permalink

March 17, 2010

The Beauty of an Irish lament

From The Daily Undertaker

Funerals are the means through which we travel from death, back into life. They are important and meaningful to us as individuals and as a culture. In contrast to the United States, where funerals and other memorial rituals seem to be on the wane, the people of Ireland hold fast to their funeral traditions.

The following article by Marie Murray, ...conveys the importance and meaning of funerals better than any I've read in a long time.

Funerals form an integral part of Irish life, Recognising the beauty of an Irish lament

WHATEVER HAS been lost in Irish culture, the tradition of funeral going has not died. Attending funerals remains an integral part of cultural life.

Funeral going is psychologically complex. It is comforting to those who mourn; recognition of the life of those who have died; and a celebration of their existence. It allows lament for their departure and acknowledgment of the loss for those who loved them.

Funeral attendance is a statement of connection, care, compassion and support. It encircles those who grieve and enriches those who attend because it connects each person there to the profundity of living and the inevitability of death. Funeral attendees witness the raw emotions of grief and the extraordinary capacity of the human spirit to love.
But there is psychological reason, social solidarity and cultural cohesion in funeral attendance, and even as the ceremonies, the belief systems they operate from or the expression of grief may change, the meaning of marking death remains, and long may we travel highway and byway to do so.

For St Patrick's Day, here is an Irish lament.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:30 AM | Permalink

March 16, 2010

While out for a run on the beach....

A single engine plane from Orlando was flying up the coast when it began experiencing engine trouble.  After oil began to leak on the windshield blocking the view of the pilot and a propeller fell off, the pilot decided to make an emergency landing on the beach near the Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa.

Then it hit and killed a jogger running on the beach.

U.S. jogger killed after plane crash-lands on top of him as he runs on the beach

His name was not released.

UPDATE.  Robert Gary Jones, a 38-year-old father of two was jogging and listening to his iPod when he was hit from behind and killed by the small plane which glided to an emergency landing on the beach.

What a tragedy.  Condolences to his poor family

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:55 PM | Permalink

March 15, 2010

Momento Mori

Le Transi De Ren De Chalon Ligier R

I found this striking image at the Crescat, Prince of Orange, René de Chalons, died in battle in 1544, at age 25. His widow commissioned the sculptor Ligier Richier to represent him offering his heart to God, set against the painted splendour of his former worldly estate. Church of Saint-Étienne, Bar-le-Duc.

She is one of those Morbid Catholics and declares
Catholicism is the punk rock of religions. The Church is fearless in Her embrace of death. We love our relics, cherish our martyrs, talk to the dead and pray for a happy death!

Momento Mori is the Latin phrase translated as 'Remember you must die'.  It also names an entire genre of art most often found in cemeteries that reminds people of their own mortality and short time here on earth.  There is a subgenre called Vanitas to describe a still life featuring symbols of mortality and often including a skull.  Below is Vanitas by Phillipe de Champaigne symbolizing Life, Death and Time.


"Remember you must die", momento mori is one of those universal spiritual truths that we all know and too often forget.    "Keep death daily before you," urges the Rule of St. Benedict.  In the HBO series Six Feet Under, Nate Fisher runs the family funeral home with his brother after his father is killed by a bus.  Nate, who never wanted to go into the family business, is asked by a grief-stricken woman whose aunt , the only person who truly loved her, died in a freak accident, "Why do people have to die?"  Nate is silent than says poignantly., "To make life important."

The key to living life intensely is to keep the awareness before us as much as we can.  You can even have a momento mori on your iPhone.    It's called  Vanitas and I have it.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 AM | Permalink

March 14, 2010

"Ain't No Grave"

Daniel Kalder reviews the new CD Johnny Cash-American VI: Ain't No Grave

Well there ain’t no grave
Gonna hold my body down
Well there ain’t no grave
Gonna hold my body down
When I hear that trumpet sound
I’m gonna get up out of the ground

The song mixes defiance with a joyful declaration that death is not the end. And it is this bedrock of faith, of an elemental Christianity that liberates Cash from fear and informs the rest of the album. This is the sound of a man at peace with himself, with his life, who is ready to meet his Redeemer. Indeed, he’s so at peace he can take a Sheryl Crow song, Redemption Song and make you forget about her musings on toilet paper and suspect for the first time that she might actually be a talented songwriter. Then he takes Kristofferson’s For the Good Times- basically a song in which a horny goat tries to emotionally blackmail his ex into giving him some pity sex- and turns it into a moving reflection on a long life nearly at its end. The fourth track, 1 Corinthians 15:55 is the last song Cash ever wrote and begins with the lines from scripture:

Oh Death where is thy sting?
Oh grave where is thy victory?

Before Cash continues with a plea to God for shelter, guidance, forgiveness and mercy; but it’s a plea given in the certainty that God is merciful, delivered over a cheerful waltz. Cash knows that if he asks, he shall receive.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:01 PM | Permalink

March 9, 2010

"The Scene of Insurmountable Grief"

Christian villagers wail as hundreds of Nigerians slaughtered in machete 'revenge' attacks are buried in mass graves

Nigerian villagers wailed in the streets as dump trucks carried hundreds of bodies past burned-out homes towards a mass grave.

This was the scene of insurmountable grief after rioters armed with machetes slaughtered more than 500 people in a revenge attack following religious clashes near Nigeria's city of Jos.

The killers had shown no mercy. They didn't spare women and children, or even a four-day-old baby, from their machetes. In one area alone, five babies and 28 children aged five or less were killed.

Rubber-gloved workers pulled ever-smaller bodies from the dump truck and tossed them into the mass grave.

 Nigerian-Funeral Mass Grave

Some 300 Christian churches have been destroyed in the area around Jos during the past four years. In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos described his efforts to have friendly relations with Muslims, the effects of the local imposition of Sharia, and the caution with which he catechizes potential Muslim converts, some of whom “come just because they want to infiltrate.”

The nation of 142.5 million is 15% Catholic.

The governor of the area where the massacre occurred accused the country's military chiefs of ignoring warnings about last weekend's massacre.

Officials said more than 500 people from the mainly Christian Berom ethnic group were hacked to death with machetes, axes and daggers in three villages of Dogo Nahawa, Ratsat and Zot on Sunday morning.

There seems to be a cycle of religious violence that's growing as the country's leadership falters.

Since January, a cycle of violence has erupted in Plateau state and around the city of Jos. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, most recently in a massacre on Sunday of at least 380 Christian villagers. The violence has split along religious lines and calls for independent investigations have not yet been heeded.
Nigeria’s diverse population and recurrent waves of tribal and sectarian violence have imposed a delicate power sharing system between the Muslim northerners and Christian southerners. The presidency rotates between the two communities, although each presidential ticket must include one representative of each. And yet, in the absence of improved governance and with approaching elections, this division of power has perpetuated sectarian politics.

Philip Jenkins. a professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State writes  in the Third World War:

In Jos, as in countless other regions across Africa and Asia, violence between Christians and Muslims can erupt at any time, with the potential to detonate riots, civil wars, and persecutions. While these events are poorly reported in the West, they matter profoundly
Uncomfortably for American policymakers, it is a war of religions and beliefs—a battle not for hearts and minds but for souls.
The relationship between Christianity and Islam poses a challenge for at least half of the 20 nations expected to have the world’s largest populations by 2050

One factor driving Islamic militancy in many nations is the sense that Christianity is growing. Outside of the West, evangelism and conversion are two of the most sensitive issues in the modern world.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:53 PM | Permalink

Body of former President stolen for ransom

Three months passed before the stolen body of the former President of Cyprus, Tassos Papadoplous, was discovered in a shallow grave.

Thieves had stolen the body to hold it for ransom said the government in Cyprus even as the family denied a ransom request was made.

The report Ex-president's body stolen for ransom explains that the police received a tip-off that he had been buried in the grave of another person.  DNA evidence confirmed the proper identification.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:50 PM | Permalink

March 8, 2010

Nurturing a virtual baby, ignoring and starving their real one

South Korean couple starved child while raising 'virtual baby'

The couple seemed to have lost their will to live a normal life, because they didn't have jobs and gave birth to a premature baby," said Chung Jin-won, a police officer.

"They indulged themselves in the online game of raising a virtual character so as to escape from reality, which led to the death of their real baby."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:58 AM | Permalink

March 4, 2010

"Come on seven," is the last phrase of hers that I can remember

John Zmirak Must Die

I'll never forget my mother sitting at home on our couch (as she did until two days before she died -- through a Catholic home hospice) with the computerized morphine drip that gave her steady, always insufficient doses of the stuff, as the tumor quietly thrived -- a tumor she'd earned over decades through the Marlboro "Lungs for Clothing" trade-in program. (Which is really neat, by the way: You send them little pieces of your lungs, and they ship you t-shirts and jackets with their logo. Mom had quite a collection by the end.) Having spent the better part of 20 years at bingo and high-stakes poker games in church basements all through the Diocese of Brooklyn, and slightly addled by the opiates, my mother became convinced that the numbers on the morphine drip were part of a lottery -- and if her number came up, she would "win" and get back her health. In her smoke-stained fingers she clutched the sterile medical plastic, squinting at the numbers on the readout. "Come on seven," is the last phrase of hers that I can remember

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:28 AM | Permalink

Lobbyist against domestic violence kills husband in domestic dispute

Married only five days, 26-year-old Anthony Rankins was shot and killed in a domestic dispute by his 45-year-old wife who was a registered lobbyist for a group fighting domestic violence.

Woman charged with killing husband is lobbyist

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:06 AM | Permalink

March 3, 2010

Message from smoker on his funeral hearse


Dick Whittamore's last wish granted when his hearse bore the message Smoking Killed Me

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:00 AM | Permalink

Killed by bureaucracy

Even though they had the equipment to save her,  because of a bureaucratic memo, firefighters stood by and just listened to her cries for help.  When the mountain rescue team was called in, they brought up the woman who died of a heart attack.

Firefighters left woman in mine shaft for six hours due to 'health and safety concerns'

An injured woman lay for six hours at the foot of a disused mine shaft because safety rules banned firefighters from rescuing her, an inquiry heard yesterday. As Alison Hume was brought to the surface by mountain rescuers she died of a heart attack.

A senior fire officer at the scene admitted that crews could only listen to her cries for help, after she fell down the 60ft shaft, because regulations said their lifting equipment could not be used on the public.
It would have been possible to pull Ms Hume up had it not been for the memo.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 AM | Permalink

March 2, 2010

No way to go

After he crashed into a power pole, he relieved himself and didn't see the live wire in the roadside ditch.

Washington man electrocuted by urinating on power line

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:07 AM | Permalink