July 31, 2010

Tokyo's 'oldest' man had been dead for 30 years

He was thought to be the oldest man in Tokyo - but when officials went to congratulate Sogen Kato on his 111th birthday, they uncovered mummified skeletal remains lying in his bed.

Mr Kato may have been dead for 30 years according to Japanese authorities.

They grew suspicious when they went to honour Mr Kato at his address in Adachi ward, but his granddaughter told them he "doesn't want to see anybody".

Police are now investigating the family on possible fraud charges.
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Mr Kato's relatives told police that he had "confined himself in his room more than 30 years ago and became a living Buddha," according to a report by Jiji Press.

But the family had received 9.5 million yen ($109,000: £70,000) in widower's pension payments via Mr Kato's bank account since his wife died six years ago, and some of the money had recently been withdrawn.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:31 AM | Permalink

She photographed her own dying

Woman chronicled her own death from meningitis in phone pictures as doctors told her spreading rash was only a 'minor infection'

 Woman Texting Her Own Death

A desperate patient texted photos of a deadly rash spreading across her body to her mother as she lay dying on a hospital bed while being ignored by NHS doctors.

Critically ill Jo Dowling, 25, sent more than 40 pictures and messages to her mother and best friend as her life ebbed away.

Doctors ignored the rash and refused to believe she had blood poisoning caused by the meningitis bug, taking her off antibiotics and giving her painkillers instead.
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Her devastated mother Sue Christie, 48, of Milton Keynes, a distribution worker, said: 'Our doctor knew it was meningitis but when we got to hospital all the care seemed to stop.
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Five nurses also told the two day hearing they did not spot any rash on Jo's body.

As her condition worsened Miss Dowling swapped 42 text messages with friends and her mother describing her illness and symptoms.

Just two hours after doctors ruled out meningitis she texted a friend to say 'rash is getting worse'.

She took around ten photos of the purple rash on her legs, hands and arms and sent one to her mum complaining her condition was not improving.

Her death was pronounced at 5.20am on November 24 three hours after hospital logs show she was last checked on.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink

July 29, 2010

Crowded Morgues in Arizona

They say illegal immigration is lessening but  An Arizona Morgue Grows Crowded.

 Crowded Morgue

Since the first of the year, more than 150 people suspected of being illegal immigrants have been found dead, well above the 107 discovered during the same period in each of the last two years. The sudden spike in deaths has overwhelmed investigators and pathologists at the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office. Two weeks ago, Dr. Parks was forced to bring in a refrigerated truck to store the remains of two dozen people because the building’s two units were full.

“We can store about 200 full-sized individuals, but we have over 300 people here now, and most of those are border crossers,” Dr. Parks said. “We keep hoping we have seen the worst of this, of these migration deaths. Yet we still see a lot of remains.”

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Since 2000, Dr. Park’s office has handled more than 1,700 border-crossing cases, and officials here have managed to confirm the identities of about 1,050 of the remains.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

July 28, 2010

Deep sea photographer dies in underwater shoot

 Wes-Skiles-Underwater Photographer

Wes Skiles, 52, a freelance deep-sea photographer, died while filming an underwater shoot near Florida for the National Geographic.

His obituary in the Palm Beach Post

Skiles and other members of a film crew were working around a reef east of the Boynton Inlet Wednesday afternoon when Skiles signaled to his colleagues that he was going to head to the surface to get more film, sheriff's spokeswoman Teri Barbera said.

He ascended alone. A few minutes later other members of the group heading for the surface too found him lying on the ocean floor.

His colleagues pulled him onto their boat and attempted to revive him, Barbera said. He was transported to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where he was pronounced dead.

From The National Geographic blog
A photograph by Skiles is the current (August) cover story of National Geographic. Editor in Chief Chris Johns devoted his "Editor's Note" to the photographer in the same issue.

"Wes was a true explorer in every sense and a wonderful spirit," Chris Johns said today. "He set a standard for underwater photography, cinematography and exploration that is unsurpassed. It was an honor to work with him, and he will be deeply missed."

The stunning final images of the veteran deep-sea photographer killed while filming underwater

 Last-Photo Wes Skiles

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:03 PM | Permalink

July 27, 2010

Who asks the bride and groom to pose with guns?

Wedding photographer shot dead after he asked bride and groom to pose with GUNS

A wedding photographer was accidentally shot dead after he asked the happy couple to pose with guns as part of the big day celebrations, Italian police have revealed.

Calogero Scimea, 45, was hit in the head after one of the guns went off.

He died in front of horrified bride Valentina Anitra, 22, and groom Ignazio Licodia, 25, as well as their parents.

Police said the tragedy happened just before the couple, who are teenage sweethearts, set off for their local church at Altofonte near Palermo on the island of Sicily.

Police were today questioning them as well as their relatives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 PM | Permalink

What should medicine do when it can't save your life?

Atul Gawande on Letting Go.  A must read especially for those who have a loved one with a terminal illness.

Almost all these patients had known, for some time, that they had a terminal condition. Yet they—along with their families and doctors—were unprepared for the final stage. “We are having more conversation now about what patients want for the end of their life, by far, than they have had in all their lives to this point,” my friend said. “The problem is that’s way too late.” In 2008, the national Coping with Cancer project published a study showing that terminally ill cancer patients who were put on a mechanical ventilator, given electrical defibrillation or chest compressions, or admitted, near death, to intensive care had a substantially worse quality of life in their last week than those who received no such interventions. And, six months after their death, their caregivers were three times as likely to suffer major depression. Spending one’s final days in an I.C.U. because of terminal illness is for most people a kind of failure. You lie on a ventilator, your every organ shutting down, your mind teetering on delirium and permanently beyond realizing that you will never leave this borrowed, fluorescent place. The end comes with no chance for you to have said goodbye or “It’s O.K.” or “I’m sorry” or “I love you.

The difference between hospice and standard medical care.

The difference between standard medical care and hospice is not the difference between treating and doing nothing, she explained. The difference was in your priorities. In ordinary medicine, the goal is to extend life. We’ll sacrifice the quality of your existence now—by performing surgery, providing chemotherapy, putting you in intensive care—for the chance of gaining time later. Hospice deploys nurses, doctors, and social workers to help people with a fatal illness have the fullest possible lives right now. That means focussing on objectives like freedom from pain and discomfort, or maintaining mental awareness for as long as possible, or getting out with family once in a while. Hospice and palliative-care specialists aren’t much concerned about whether that makes people’s lives longer or shorter.

Like many people, I had believed that hospice care hastens death, because patients forgo hospital treatments and are allowed high-dose narcotics to combat pain. But studies suggest otherwise. In one, researchers followed 4,493 Medicare patients with either terminal cancer or congestive heart failure. They found no difference in survival time between hospice and non-hospice patients with breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Curiously, hospice care seemed to extend survival for some patients; those with pancreatic cancer gained an average of three weeks, those with lung cancer gained six weeks, and those with congestive heart failure gained three months.
The lesson seems almost Zen: you live longer only when you stop trying to live longer.
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This is not just a Zen, Christians hold the same.  Life is not and can never be a possession.  Attempting to grasp life and hold on it in fact diminishes your life.  "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:34-5). 

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The simple view is that medicine exists to fight death and disease, and that is, of course, its most basic task. Death is the enemy. But the enemy has superior forces. Eventually, it wins. And, in a war that you cannot win, you don’t want a general who fights to the point of total annihilation. You don’t want Custer. You want Robert E. Lee, someone who knew how to fight for territory when he could and how to surrender when he couldn’t, someone who understood that the damage is greatest if all you do is fight to the bitter end.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:33 PM | Permalink

Mourning the wrong girl

One accident, two girls, and the hospital mixed up their identities.  One family learns their "dead" daughter is alive and the other family learns they've been standing over the bed, not of their daughter, but her friend.

Mourning the wrong girl

In a case of mistaken identity, two Arizona families were shocked as they found out the truth about two young women involved in a tragic car accident.

The family of Abby Guerra has spent the last week planning their daughter's funeral. The 19-year-old college sophomore and four friends were involved in a car crash after their SUV suffered a blowout returning from a trip to Disneyland.

The Guerra family was first told that Abby died at the scene. But on Saturday, six days after the accident, they learned that there'd been a mix up -- it was 21-year-old Marlena Cantu who died, and that Abby was alive and in critical condition at a Phoenix hospital.

Guerra's aunt Dorenda Cisneros explained how confusing the feeling is when they found out the truth. "You're ecstatic for one -- I mean it's a miracle, but in the same, you're angry because we've mourned all week".

Friends of Cantu said her family was devastated when they learned their daughter was dead, after spending much time standing over the bed of a girl who was someone else's child.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink

July 24, 2010

Moments from death

 Moments-From-Death

Pilot ejects from fighter plane moments before crash


With his £20 million fighter plane hurtling towards the ground, Captain Brian Bews had little time to think. The 36-year-old pilot was forced to choose between battling to save the plane, or bailing to save his life. He chose the latter, launching himself out of the cockpit with the ejector seat and parachuting down to earth – miraculously landing unharmed, as his plane exploded in a mass of flames and black smoke.
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Nick Buckenham, a veteran British aerobatics pilot and a judge at the World Aerobatics Championships, said: "Display aerobatics is an incredibly dangerous sport, where you deliberately fly incredibly close to the ground to astound the crowds.


"Obviously being this close to the ground poses huge risks, and the chances of escaping alive in such dangerous circumstances are actually incredibly slim.


"At an altitude of just a few hundred feet a pilot has only a fraction of a second to make a decision to eject from his cockpit, especially at high speeds.


"Mr Bews' jet was travelling at very high speed, which makes the process of bailing out from an aeroplane even more difficult.


"He has been incredibly lucky to escape alive."

 Pilot Ejects

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:54 PM | Permalink

"My mother would make sure that my father had a good dinner and a loaded gun before he went off a mission."

Michael Malone writes of his mother who went out with fireworks in An American Life.

After my father’s death in 1988, it would have been understandable if my mother had stepped out of her busy life and enjoyed her own long retirement.  Instead, she embarked on the last great act of her life, one that astonished everyone who knew her and which in the end made everything that came before it seem like a rehearsal.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:46 PM | Permalink

July 22, 2010

Kafkaesque

Lost Kafka writings resurface, trapped in trial

It seems almost Kafkaesque: Ten safety deposit boxes of never-published writings by Franz Kafka, their exact contents unknown, are trapped in courts and bureaucracy, much like one of the nightmarish visions created by the author himself.

The papers, retrieved from bank vaults where they have sat untouched and unread for decades, could shed new light on one of literature's darkest figures.

In the past week, the pages have been pulled from safety deposit boxes in Tel Aviv and Zurich, Switzerland, on the order of an Israeli court over the objections of two elderly women who claim to have inherited them from their mother.

"Kafka could easily have written a story like this, where you try to do something and it all goes wrong and everything remains unresolved," said Sara Loeb, a Tel Aviv-based author of two books about the writer. "It's really a case of life imitating art."
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But the newly emerged writings won't see the light of day until the Israeli court unravels the tangled question of the collection's rightful owner.
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The case boils down to the interpretation of the will of Max Brod, Kafka's longtime friend and publisher. Kafka bequeathed his writings to Brod shortly before his own death from tuberculosis in 1924, instructing his friend to burn everything unread.

But Brod, who smuggled some of the manuscripts to pre-state Israel when he fled the Nazis in 1938, didn't publish everything. Upon his death in 1968, Brod left his personal secretary, Esther Hoffe, in charge of his literary estate and instructed her to transfer the Kafka papers to an academic institution.
Instead, for the next four decades, Hoffe kept the papers in her Tel Aviv apartment and in safety deposit boxes in Tel Aviv and Zurich banks.


But the Israeli National Library has long claimed the papers, saying Brod intended for the collection to end up in its hands. It filed an injunction against the execution of Hoffe's will.

"As long as Esther Hoffe was alive, she was responsible, she could still say, 'I am handling it,'" said Heller, the library's lawyer. "The late Mrs. Hoffe did not do what the late Mr. Brod asked her to do and deposit the documents in the national library. ... The will was not honored, it was desecrated."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:15 PM | Permalink

July 21, 2010

Drive-thru Funeral Home

 Funeral-Home-Drive-Thru

From Ten unusual drive-thru services

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:13 PM | Permalink

Human presence and human contact for the dying

Facing Death in Solidarity and Hope 

By providing a supportive and nurturing environment for those who are dying, we aid them in powerful ways to overcome their sense of isolation. Sister Diana Bader, O.P. has perceptively described this modern health care challenge:

"In the past, death was a community event. Those closest to the patient ministered in a variety of ways: watching and praying with the patient, listening and talking, laughing and weeping. In solidarity, a close community bore the painful experience together. Today, because of the medicalization of the healthcare setting, death is more often regarded as a failure of medical science. The dying find themselves isolated from human warmth and compassion in institutions, cut off from access to human presence by technology which dominates the institutional setting in which most details occur."

Fostering a humanly enriching environment for those facing death often means giving explicit attention to human presence and human contact, even in the midst of a plethora of technology that may surround a patient.
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If a patient is still able to take small amounts of food orally, it may be preferable to feed him or her by hand, rather than relying on a feeding tube. The rich human contact that occurs whenever one person devotes time, energy and love to hand-feed another should not become a casualty to our efforts to streamline medicine or to save money. This focused effort on our part to be present to those who are dying maintains human solidarity with them, it affirms their dignity as persons, it manifests benevolence towards them, and it maintains the bond of human communication with them. It also goes a long way towards helping to overcome their sense of loneliness and their fear of abandonment.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:04 PM | Permalink

Mostly waiting

Still in the World

I sat with the syringe in hand, watching her labored breathing. My mother was dying, and dying in pain. And I could make it stop.
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A wave of revulsion washed over me as I realized I had been tempted because I had forgotten a simple truth: The dying are still the living, and their inherent worth is not diminished simply because their remaining moments on earth are few.
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It was only after her death that I could fully appreciate the casual lesson she had taught me. She had once been a hospice nurse and had cared for dozens of people as they began to die, staying with them to the end. I once asked her what the job entailed. “Mostly waiting,” she said. “You just stay with them and make them comfortable. Let them know they are not alone.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:00 PM | Permalink

July 20, 2010

Widow of firefighter killed in blaze was a man. Suit filed.

Here's a new one for estate lawyers

  Suit claims widow of Wharton firefighter was born a man

The family of a Wharton firefighter who died battling a massive egg farm blaze is fighting to keep his widow from receiving death benefits, arguing that the 37-year-old had found out his bride of two years was born a man.

Thomas Araguz III separated from his wife after learning her history two months prior to being trapped in the fatal July 3 fire, according to attorney Chad Ellis, who is representing Araguz's parents in the lawsuit.

"He was distraught. It was extremely difficult and embarrassing for Tommy," said Ellis, who added that there is no will for the estate, which will be substantial since the fire captain died in the line of duty.
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Thomas Araguz learned during a custody dispute with his ex-wife last spring that 35-year-old Nikki Araguz, whom he married in August 2008, was allegedly born as Justin Graham Purdue. Ellis said he was unsure when Nikki Araguz may have undergone a sex-change operation, but the lawsuit claims she changed her name in the mid-1990s to Nikki Paige Araguz.

Nikki Araguz has been court-ordered not to remove any property from their home, withdraw funds from any account or receive any death benefits, as part of the lawsuit filed last week in state district court by the firefighter's mother, Simona Longoria.

Among the issues: Who will be the administrator of the estate and whether Nikki Araguz was Thomas Araguz' lawful wife. The family wants all the death benefits to go to the two young sons that Araguz had with ex-wife Heather Delgado.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:52 PM | Permalink

Explosive book on child trafficking by "Suicide Judge"

When Judge Kirsten Heisig, 48, disappeared from Berlin without a trace, the search was on.

The last sign of life is to have a SMS sent to one of her two daughters. Heisig wanted to take the girls to holiday in the next few days.

When her abandoned car was found in a forest, special hunt dogs were sent out.
The judge works in the city’s gritty Neukölln  district. There she instituted changes simplifying and accelerating punishment for youth crime.

But her body was found in a field on the edge of Berlin 

Searches had been under way in the city since Kirsten Heisig, 48, vanished on Monday evening. Known for a zero-tolerance campaign to crack down on repeat juvenile offenders in the deprived Berlin neighbourhood of Neukoelln, she had been criticized by ethnic minorities.

Officials say it was a suicide because there was no evidence any other party was involved in the death.

I am very far away and don't know all the facts but count me suspicious of the suicide conclusion.  It is more likely that she ran afoul of very powerful, criminal Arabic drug cartels.   

Excerpts are now being printed from her book The End of Patience which will be published in Germany at the end of this month  Heisig made final changes to the manuscript on the last day she was seen alive.  The excerpts are  explosive

Arabic drug cartels are trafficking children and youths from Palestinian refugee camps into Germany, according to excerpts published on Monday of a book by a Berlin youth judge who committed suicide last month.
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Heisig described the process by which children and youths were flown in from the Lebanese capital, Beirut, by traffickers who took their passports and promised them a better life.

The youths reportedly told German officials they were living with relatives after their parents had died, and said their families had spent their last penny on sending the children to Germany in pursuit of a better life.

In Germany, these young people disappeared from youth homes and were taken in by their own communities, where they were taught how to master the drugs trade...The judge said it had struck her how often youths she sentenced for heroin trafficking in central Berlin had actually been assigned to care homes across Germany, where their disappearance was merely registered with the authorities.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:34 PM | Permalink

Family secrets, sibling fury and an apartment to die for

The best precis of the Nightmare in Apt 9B is from The Browser

Hitchcock film in the form of a newspaper story. Dying widow, sex-change daughter, idle son battle for ownership of apartment on Central Park West. Ends with jail sentences, hired killer

The struggle over Apartment 9B is one of those real-estate fights that is about far more than real estate — although it may reveal in spectacular terms the lengths that some people will go for a great apartment. Brimming with claims about abuse and inheritance, the battle is about family secrets and sibling fury as much as it is about co-op shares.

It even made public a private gender switch. Mrs. Cheney’s daughter, Ms. Wells, was her first son, Jonathan, before a sex-change operation in the 1970s. The morning that the housekeeper found Mrs. Cheney on the couch was just two days after she had met with lawyers to reconsider her will. Ms. Gordon soon had an ambulance crew wheeling its stretcher across the hardwood floors that are a selling point in the El Dorado’s $4 million co-ops.
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The Cheney family battle over whether she can remain is now headed toward a courtroom finale at a trial this fall in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court. Family members declined to be interviewed. But cartons of court documents include diaries, letters, transcripts and reports that detail the battle for Apartment 9B, a family fight that defies real resolution, like thousands of family struggles with bottomless emotions that occupy the courts every year.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:32 AM | Permalink

July 19, 2010

"Who and what you see before you die"

David Kessler had to author three books on grief, the needs of the dying and death, meet Mother Teresa and work with acclaimed thanatologist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross before he could develop the maturity and muster the courage to write "Visions, Trips and Crowded Rooms - Who and What You See Before You Die."

"When you're starting out in your professional life, you want to make sure that you're doing credible work," says the vice president of patient support care services, which includes overseeing end-of-life care, pastoral care and social work, at Citrus Valley Health Partners. "If I would have said to anyone early on, 'You know, I've been noticing there's some visions going on here with our dying patients,' they would have thought I was crazy.

What it's like being at a deathbed

The first shared experience reportedly was deathbed visions, most often of the dying person's mother or mother figure. Their eyes became fixed on something no one else in the room could see as they reached out their hands passionately, according to many witnesses of deathbed scenes.
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An oncologist was at the bedside of his brother, who had terminal cancer, with their mother. The patient began talking as if there was somebody right in front of him. And it soon became apparent that he was speaking to his father's parents, whom he'd been particularly close to. The conversation lasted for a couple of hours, with the patient smiling and calling both of his grandparents by name.

"As a doctor, it's very easy to dismiss this sort of thing until you see it firsthand," the oncologist told Kessler, adding, "Before the episode, there was a sense of struggle and tension in the air, but now there seemed to be only peace surrounding my brother. I truly believe that it was a result of my grandparents' visit as he died."

Kessler found that deathbed vision happenings shared a number of things. First, death had to be imminent, within at least a week and sometimes the same day. Only really dying people, in short, had visions. And these end-of-life visions were remarkably similar, with mothers or mother-like figures being the most likely apparitions.

Standing room only

Dying people spoke a lot about getting ready for a trip, which was the second commonly shared deathbed experience, Kessler found. And he emphasizes that the journey was a real concrete trip versus an abstract notion of heading into eternity. People asked "Where's my ticket?" or "What happened to my passport?" not "I'm about to go into the abyss of death."
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"You hear people say, 'we're born alone, we die alone,' but from the deathbed it doesn't seem like a lonely experience," observes David Kessler. "It feels like we're not going into the emptiness but arriving into a fullness."

After a moment, he confides, "One of the most starling things for me in hearing these stories is what if death isn't that lonely experience that we should all fear? What if we are comforted and loved and cared for - and there is standing room only? It changes everything. I mean, it reaffirms our faith.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2010

Great recession leaves more unable to afford funerals

A sad sign of the times in this story from Cleveland:  More families can't afford funerals or burials.

With the cost of a funeral and burial upwards of $5,000, it is not surprising that more and more local families find themselves hard-pressed to provide what their deceased loved one wanted or requested.

"We were lost, and I didn't know what to do," said Krys Williams, whose son David was shot and killed in April in a downtown Cleveland parking lot.

"It was a horrible situation," says her husband Dan Rinaldi. They could not afford a suitable Christian funeral and burial, but were rescued by a little known Catholic organization called the Callistian Guild.
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Local funeral directors and cemeteries say they can't remember a time when so many people were unable to pay for a funeral and burial.
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"That's the reason for the Callistian Guild, to help those who may qualify for this service," says Lah. "You have to be Catholic, you truly have to be unable to provide burial for your loved ones, or if someone is truly alone and there is no one left to provide that service."

I had never heard of the Callistan Guild, founded in 1975, that now includes dozens of funeral homes and services but I  am grateful and appreciative that they exist to provide a "final remembrance that is meaningful and dignified."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:07 AM | Permalink

July 14, 2010

" So far, it feels like the truth.’’

“Under my promise to always tell you the truth, I have discontinued chemo and other treatments,’’ he wrote, adding, “I’m beyond the place where chemo can help me. I have come home to die. I am near the end of my journey.’’

Father Field, who had stood in the pulpit month after month, performing pastoral duties through intense pain, sat in a wheelchair on June 27. Speaking into a microphone, he asked if anyone had questions. There were none. Instead, the parishioners took their turn to stand. They began to clap, their applause echoing through the church for minute after minute, as if to prolong his time with them.

A masterful teacher who deftly discovered new insights in familiar Gospel passages, Father Field spent the past two years using his own life as a lesson in how to let life shine in the shadow of death. “I am in a place of great peace and gratitude,’’ he wrote. Father Field, who lived in the church rectory, died Monday. He was 59 and had celebrated his 20th anniversary as an ordained priest last month.

As days dwindled, priest let his life be his lesson

While he said his illness provided “a teachable moment’’ for parishioners, it also helped him live a lesson he had taught, and learned, over and over.

“I believe we go into the hands of the God who loves us, and what’s next, we just can’t imagine how wonderful it must be,’’ he said in the interview. “This is a time when you have to figure out — do you believe this or not. You’ve been saying this your whole life. Is this really the truth or not? And, so far, it feels like the truth.’’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:01 PM | Permalink

"in lieu of flowers, vote for another more worthy candidate.”

A long-time supporter of Harry Reid, Charlotte McCourt came to regret it.  When she died at 84, her obituary read in part"

“We believe that Mom would say she was mortified to have taken a large role in the election of Harry Reid to U.S. Congress. Let the record show Charlotte was displeased with his work. Please, in lieu of flowers, vote for another more worthy candidate.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:58 AM | Permalink

'Sorry, I didn't know my mother was going to die':

The pettiness of government bureaucrats on full display.

'Sorry, I didn't know my mother was going to die': Jobseeker's anger as council refuses to rearrange interview... which clashed with mum's FUNERAL

When jobseeker Josephine Platts called council bosses to rearrange an interview because it clashed with her mother’s funeral, she expected their condolences.

However, the 56-year-old was told that she should have contacted the town hall sooner – and they refused to change the date.

Mrs Platts had been shortlisted for a part-time clerk position - but, shortly after, her 90-year-old mother died unexpectedly.

Despite her loss, devastated Mrs Platts was told by Elm Parish Council, Cambridgeshire, that the date for the interview could not be rearranged 'just to suit one person'.

Council chairman John Brand defended the decision

"You cannot just change things to suit one person."
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I did feel sorry for her [Mrs Platts] but it was just one of those things and now the job has been filled by a very experienced person.’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

July 12, 2010

Undisturbed Grave

-Periander

Periander ordered two young men to go out by night along a certain road, to kill the first man they met there, and to bury him.

Then he ordered four more men to find those two and kill them.

And he sent an even greater number to murder those four.

Periander then set off down the road himself to wait for them.

In this way he ensured that the location of his grave would never be known

Undisturbed in the Futility Closet via Ka-Ching

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:51 PM | Permalink

July 9, 2010

Dead suspicious

In Romania, a woman didn't report the death of her husband for 14 days because she suspected he was playing a trick on her so he could start a new life with his mistress.

Dead suspicious

Police spokewoman Mihaela Straub said: "There are no signs of foul play and he had a well established heart condition

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:12 PM | Permalink

"“What time is it? I wish you’d hurry up, I want to get to hell in time for dinner.”

The New York Review of Books, a review by Charles Simic of Last Words  collected by Robert Elder in his new book Last Words of the Executed.

“Don’t let it end like this. Tell them I said something,” Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa worried in his dying moments.

“When I die, bury me deep, lay two speakers at my feet, put some headphones on my head and rock and roll me when I’m dead.” (Douglas Roberts, convicted of kidnapping, robbery and murder in Texas and executed on April 20, 2005.)

What time is it? I wish you’d hurry up, I want to get to hell in time for dinner.” (John Owens (AKA Bill Booth), executed for murder in Wyoming on March 5, 1886).

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:51 PM | Permalink

July 7, 2010

'Frankenstein callousness'

The latest "environmental" idea from Belgium which if the EU allows could spread across the continent

Belgium plans to dissolve bodies in caustic solutions... and flush them into sewage systems

The EU is considering proposals from Belgian undertakers to be allowed to dissolve dead bodies in caustic solutions to help save the environment.

The remains could then be flushed into the sewage systems of towns and cities to be recycled at water processing plants.

If approved in Belgium, EU law would allow for the procedure to be used in the UK.

Those behind the controversial new method say it is less expensive and more environmentally-friendly than running highly-polluting crematoria or using up valuable land for graves.

But critics say it smacks of 'Frankenstein callousness' towards the dead and that people will find the idea disturbing.
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The process of reducing a body to ash is called chemical hydrolysis and has been used on a large scale in recent years in the destruction of cattle found to have BSE.

Known as 'resomation', the process significantly reduces the 573lb of carbon dioxide that the burning of a single body puts into the atmosphere.

The body is placed in a steel chamber along with potassium hydroxide at high pressure and a temperature of 180C - 80 per cent cooler than a standard crematorium.

The increased pressure and temperature means the body reaches a similar end point to standard cremation in two or three hours.

Six states in the U.S. - Maine, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Oregon and Maryland - recently passed legislation which allowed for resomation.

Although experts insist that the ashes can be recycled in waste systems, the residue from the process can also be put into urns and given to the relatives of the dead.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 PM | Permalink

July 5, 2010

"Death is very hard for me to take"

"Death is very hard for me to take" said the 91-year-old widow who had the embalmed corpses of her husband and her twin sister dug up so that she could store them at her "tumbledown house on a desolate country road".

No matter they were already dead. Jean Stevens simply had their embalmed corpses dug up and stored them at her house — in the case of her late husband, for more than a decade — tending to the remains as best she could until police were finally tipped off last month.

Much to her dismay.

 Living With Corpses-

AP photo

As state police finish their investigation into a singularly macabre case — no charges have been filed — Stevens wishes she could be reunited with James Stevens, her husband of nearly 60 years who died in 1999, and June Stevens, the twin who died last October. But their bodies are with the Bradford County coroner now, off-limits to the woman who loved them best.

From time to time, stories of exhumed bodies are reported, but rarely do those involved offer an explanation. Jean Stevens, seeming more grandmother than ghoul, holds little back as she describes what happened outside this small town in northern Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains.

She knows what people must think of her. But she had her reasons, and they are complicated, a bit sad, and in their own peculiar way, sweet.

The poor woman, elderly and all alone in her grief

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 PM | Permalink

"Death is very hard for me to take"

"Death is very hard for me to take" said the 91-year-old widow who had the embalmed corpses of her husband and her twin sister dug up so that she could store them at her "tumbledown house on a desolate country road".

As state police finish their investigation into a singularly macabre case — no charges have been filed — Stevens wishes she could be reunited with James Stevens, her husband of nearly 60 years who died in 1999, and June Stevens, the twin who died last October. But their bodies are with the Bradford County coroner now, off-limits to the woman who loved them best.

From time to time, stories of exhumed bodies are reported, but rarely do those involved offer an explanation. Jean Stevens, seeming more grandmother than ghoul, holds little back as she describes what happened outside this small town in northern Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains.

She knows what people must think of her. But she had her reasons, and they are complicated, a bit sad, and in their own peculiar way, sweet.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:30 PM | Permalink

July 2, 2010

"Honor" Killings

'Your father is killing me!'  Horrified daughter hears her mother being beaten to death during phone call

A daughter has told of the moment she heard her mother being beaten to death by her drunken father - during a mobile phone call.

Sarabjit Kaur called her mother, Mohinder Kaur, after she went for a walk with Sukhmander Singh near the family home in Melbourne. Mohinder told her daughter that Sukhmander was beating her with a wooden stake he had pulled from the ground, the Victorian Supreme Court heard.

Sarabjit heard what sounded like a crack and the last words she heard her mother utter were: 'Neena, your father is killing me.'


Innocent couple died 'after wrong house was fire-bombed in bungled honour killing'

An innocent couple died in a house fire at the hands of assailants who got the wrong address in a botched honour killing, a court heard today.

Abdullah Mohammed, 41, and his wife, Aysha Mohammed, 39, were overcome by smoke and fumes after an accelerant was poured through their letterbox and set alight.

Their killers were ordered by another man to avenge his family's honour but instead of firebombing 135 London Road in Blackburn, Lancashire, they started the blaze at 175 London Road, the court heard.


At least, the bombers are being tried for murder

Most horrific of all, an Iranian Woman Faces Being Stoned to Death for Adultery

An Iranian woman faces being stoned to death after being accused of committing adultery with two men involved in the killing of her husband, the Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday.

If the barbaric sentence is enforced it would be the first stoning to take place in the hardline Islamic Republic in years, the Israeli paper said.
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Sakineh Mohamamadi e Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother-of-two from the northwestern Iranian city of Tabriz, is accused of having affairs with two men, who were accused of murdering her husband in 2005.
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Ashtiani has denied any wrongdoing. Her two children, Fasride, 16, and Sajjad, 20, have been leading the campaign for her release, backed by human rights groups.

Ashtiani's lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaie, claimed her execution is imminent.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:02 AM | Permalink