August 31, 2011

The Blessing of Cadavers

Deacon Greg in Life amid death points to "a  remarkable glimpse into a world few of us see", courtesy the Chicago Tribune:

On Monday, 150 students at Loyola University Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine approached their task with reverence, reciting prayers and bowing their heads as a Roman Catholic priest offered a blessing over the 18 shrouded cadavers — silent teachers who would guide the aspiring physicians' careers.

"The cadaver keeps speaking to you even in death," said Michael Dauzvardis, director of the anatomy course. "You've got to listen to it. There are volumes of knowledge you can still learn from that person who made that ultimate gift."

During the ceremony, Salvation Army Maj. Debbie Sjogren, of Lombard, stepped up and addressed the students. Her late husband, Salvation Army Maj. Randall Sjogren, was likely under one of those sheets, she said, because he wanted to be one of the next generation's first patients.

"My husband's prayer was: 'I've always wanted my life to bring glory to God. Now I want my death to,'" Debbie Sjogren recounted. "He prayed for every medical student that learns from his body and every patient of theirs that heals from the knowledge they receive."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:27 PM | Permalink

"The Internet is filling up with dead people

In the MIT Technology Review, The Internet Is Filling Up with Dead People and There's Nothing We Can Do About It

Aside from the feeling that I'm giving up yet more of my privacy out of fear of becoming techno-socially irrelevant, the worst part of signing up for a new social network like Google+ is having the service recommend that I invite or classify a dead friend.

Now, I'm aware that I could prevent this happening by deleting this friend from my email contacts list, because I'm a Reasonably Savvy Geek™ and I've intuited that the Gmail contacts list is Google's central repository of everyone with whom I'd like to pretend I'm more than just acquaintances (by ingesting them into the whirligig of my carefully mediated, frequently updated, lavishly illustrated social networking persona).
--
We're all leaving a trail of digital bread crumbs across the web, some of us more than others. On the Internet, you can't die so much as join the ranks of the undead. Everyone who's left has to decide whether they can live with your ghost / zombie / poltergeist popping up and re-inserting itself into your life.

I have a number of dead people in my address book so that I can remember details about them.  So far, I've not had the problem Christopher Mims describes.  But it's only a matter of time.

Nick Pannuto suggests adding the names of your deceased friends and relatives to the 'dead/zombies circle, then blocking that circle on Google+

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:18 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2011

Clergy banned from 9/11 ceremony UPDATED. FDNY banned too

Outrageous.

Bloomberg Bans Clergy From 9/11 Ceremony but Ground Zero Mosque OK

Religious leaders are calling on Mayor Michael Bloomberg to reverse course and offer clergy a role in the ceremony commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Rudy Washington, a deputy mayor in former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's administration, said he's outraged. Mr. Washington organized an interfaith ceremony at Yankee Stadium shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"This is America, and to have a memorial service where there's no prayer, this appears to be insanity to me," said Mr. Washington, who has suffered severe medical problems connected to the time he spent at Ground Zero

The Anchoress brings us word of the Secret Heroes at Ground Zero

Afterwards, [Cardinal Egan] worked at Ground Zero, a site so contaminated that officials told him to discard all his clothes when he returned home. He anointed bodies, listened to rescuers, and consoled both the disconsolate and their consolers. He celebrated funeral Masses at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and led prayers when President George W. Bush arrived at Ground Zero, and at an ecumenical service he organized Yankee Stadium.

Other priests sprang into action too. Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, head of Catholic Charities of the New York Archdiocese, saw that it was not just Wall Street people with significant finances who were affected. It was also those who live on the edge, such as the wait staff at Windows on the World, the restaurant atop one of the Twin Towers. Msgr. Sullivan contacted the unions and said Catholic Charities would pay the salaries for six months for restaurant workers there, who were suddenly out of work — enough time, he thought, for them to find another job.

Banned.  They are all banned.

The first recorded victim of the 9/11 attacks was Fr. Mychall Judge, a Franciscan priest and chaplain of the Fire Department of New York .

 Michael Judge

Wikipedia's account of Fr, Judge

Upon hearing the news that the World Trade Center had been hit, Father Judge rushed to the site. He was met by the Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, who asked him to pray for the city and its victims. Judge administered the Last Rites to some lying on the streets, then entered the lobby of the World Trade Center North Tower, where an emergency command post was organized. There he continued offering aid and prayers for the rescuers, the injured and dead.

When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 AM, debris went flying through the North Tower lobby, killing many inside, including Judge. At the moment he was struck in the head and killed, Judge was repeatedly praying aloud, "Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!", according to Judge's biographer and New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly.

Shortly after his death, an NYPD lieutenant, who had also been buried in the collapse, found Judge's body and assisted by two firemen and two civilian bystanders carried it out of the North Tower lobby to nearby St Peter's Church. This event was captured in the documentary film 9/11, shot by Jules and Gedeon Naudet. Shannon Stapleton, photographer from Reuters, photographed Judge's body being carried out of the rubble by five men.[12] It became one of the most famous images related to 9/11. The Philadelphia Weekly reports the photograph is considered an American Pietà.

Here's a photo of Catholic priests in FBI jackets at Ground Zero.  911-Ground-Zero-Catholic-Priests-In-Fbi-Coats   

UPDATE:  I didn't realize that  First Responders were banned from the memorial service too!

No representatives from the police or fire department or volunteers.  No FDNY!

first responder John Feal, founder of an advocacy group for the police officers, firefighters, civilian volunteers and others who worked at ground zero, assailed Brent's response, saying Bloomberg "lives in his own world."  "The best of the best that this country offered 10 years ago are being neglected and denied their rightful place," Feal said.

The Anchoress reminds us

Of the First Responders, 343 members of the FDNY lost their lives. The NYPD lost 23. The Port Authority Police lost 37. Of the 2998 killed at Ground Zero, 403 of them were First Responders, and one of them was a priest. That’s what, about 12% of the total?

The most potent and lasting  memory I have of 9/11 is that of the firemen running up the stairs, sacrificing their lives to save others

Just who does Bloomberg plan to invite anyway?  My guess more politicians and donors.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:33 PM | Permalink

Funeral home loses body at graveside service

Daughters sue funeral home after it LOST their mother's body


The daughters of an Alabama woman who died in 2010 sued the funeral home on Tuesday that handled her burial, saying it lost the body and couldn't find it even after digging up several graves.

The three daughters of Jimmie Lee Scott said in their lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County that after their mother died, her body was handed over to Ross-Clayton Funeral Home Inc.

The daughters and others in attendance left after a graveside service, where the casket was positioned over the plot where Scott was to be interred, court papers indicate.

Later, daughter Dakota Scott went to take flowers to her mother's grave, but found the tombstone was far away from where she remembered the service being held, the lawsuit said. Nevertheless, the funeral home is said to have assured her the site was correct.

A representative of the funeral home later contacted Scott and told her the funeral home would have to move her mother's casket and body, because another family owned the plot, the lawsuit states.

But when workers dug up the grave, no casket or body was found in the plot where Jimmie Lee Scott's headstone had been placed, the court papers said.

The same day, other graves were dug up in a vain search for Jimmie Lee Scott's body, which has still not been found, the lawsuit said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:42 PM | Permalink

Heart-wrenching photo reminds us what we lost when the 22 Navy Seals were killed

On August 6 in Afghanisatan,  a rocket -propelled grenade shot down a Chinook helicopter carrying 30 American service  members, including 22 Navy Seals, "the best of the best".    All were killed.  Petty Office John Tomilson of Rockford Iowa was one of them.

 Jon Tumilson

Last Friday the remains of Jon Tomilson were flown to the Mason City airport in Iowa and from there taken to his funeral in Rockford.

The white hearse carrying the Navy SEAL's remains was escorted by many law enforcement and fire department vehicles, as well as more than 500 motorcycle riders.
--
Putnam was one of more than 50 people gathered alongside Iowa 122 near the Interstate 35 overpass to pay their respects to Tumilson.

Putnam's son Justin Schriever rode in the motorcycle convoy.

"Words don't describe it," Putnam said. "Jon was Jon. He was outstanding. Whatever he did was always to the best.

"My son and him had the best of times. He was just a great kid."

At the funeral, Jon's cousin, Lisa Pembleton, captured this photo showing Jon's Labrador retriever Hawkeye

‘I felt compelled to take one photo to share with family members that couldn't make it or couldn't see what I could from the aisle'

 Hakeye Funeral Dog
During the service, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Robert Bradshaw told Mr Tumilson's parents that they helped raise an ‘outstanding man - a hero’.

Family, friends and servicemen, along with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad and U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, packed the school's gymnasium.

Mr Tumilson, who joined the Navy in 1995, was known to friends as J.T.

‘J.T. was going to be a Navy SEAL come hell or high water,’ friend Scott Nichols said. ‘He wasn't afraid of dying.’

 Jon And Hawkeye

I feel such sadness over the loss of the 22 Navy Seals, a tragedy that should not have happened but did.  Their families, friends and the entire nation grieves over their loss.  The photo of Hawkeye, lying by his master's coffin touches our hearts and reminds us of all that we have lost. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:38 PM | Permalink

"Good work Ruth"

We are continually enriched by the contributions of people unknown to us.  How many of us ever heard the name of Ruth Kadish who died last week in San Francisco, age 95.

In Obituary for Ruth Kadish, Michael Phillips writes that she created an important global institution at age 65.

While serving on the San Francisco Airport Commision, Ruth conceived and implimented a long art and culture gallery in a United Airlines wing.  The gallery gets several million visitors a year.

After Ruth created this airport gallery, her idea was copied in airports all over t he world.  She created a market for art and cultural artifacts that had never existed before.  Good work Ruth.

RIP, Ruth and thank you.

 Ruth Kadish

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:17 PM | Permalink

August 23, 2011

The Funeral Singer

You don't often think about the singers at a funeral, but here is a lovely story about a young woman who learned the
responsibilities of a singer when a remarkable young girl dies suddenly.

Losing a child: grief and hope

Maddy was having a hard time preparing as the last time she sang at a funeral at our church - Father Kelly's - she broke down while singing his favorite hymn - "Lead, Kindly Light." Saturday, she was to sing "Hallelujah" (Cohen), "Ave Maria" (Schubert), and "All Through the Night" which was Sara's favorite lullaby. She's also been on an emotional roller coaster with her job, moving and preparing to leave for college.

But Maddy knows that the discipline of a singer in this situation is that it's not about her - which was affirmed when we were walking towards the church and Sadie's mom Sara - whom we had never met - so graciously came out to greet us. She told Maddy that Sadie had been to hear her sing and had wanted to meet her afterwards, but that she (Sara) had discouraged her from interrupting Maddy talking with her friends.
--
Maddy didn't make it through the lullaby, but as she feared, began to cry - and as she has noted, while a musician can get away with crying, a singer can't. We had to leave quickly as she was so depleted afterwards. That's when we had the conversation in the car where she said she wished she'd had the opportunity to meet Sadie and I assured her that she certainly had today. And that she now has a very close friend in heaven.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:36 AM | Permalink

August 22, 2011

Death by chocolate chip and a trace of peanut

Teen dies after eating a chocolate chip cookie... as he realised too late it had traces of peanut

Fifteen-year-old Jharell Dillard took a bite of a chocolate chip cookie on Wednesday that immediately caused his airway to swell, preventing him from breathing.

 Jharelldillard

The boy's father, Charles Dillard, said Jharell normally didn't carry an injection of epinephrine, known by the brand name EpiPen, because he was aware of his allergy and was usually cautious.

Jharell, a junior at Central Gwinnett High School, was shopping with his aunt at a local Wal-Mart on Tuesday, when he ran back to the parking lot to grab a snack from the car.

But the chocolate chip cookie he ate also contained traces of peanuts, causing his tongue and throat to begin to swell.
---
His father said it was a 'freak accident' and told CBS Atlanta
that his son's death is a warning, and asked others to consider if 'we understand as parents the danger of food allergies.'

Mr Dillard said the boy's organs were donated, in hopes his legacy will inspire other parents to do the same.

The donation saved seven people.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2011

Freshwater swimming can be deadly - brain-eating amoeba

A new nightmare to worry parents, especially those in Florida, Virginia and Louisiana.

Teenage girl who contracted deadly brain infection from amoeba while swimming in local river has died

Courtney Nash, 16, died at Arnold Palmer Hospital for children in Florida on Saturday. She was rushed there with the rare infection known as amoebic meningoencephalitis a few days earlier.

There are typically fewer than five cases a year in the entire country.

Courtney was swimming in St John's River near her home last week and doctors believe the dangerous and rare parasite, which thrives in warm water, entered through her nose or ear and quickly attacked her brain.
--
'When the weather is warm, in every lake in every park, every river -- you will find the amoeba. You should not dive into the water, and you should not disturb the bottom of the lake. You should use earplugs and noseplugs,'

Symptoms of an infection include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting, stiff neck, confusion, lack of attention to people and surroundings, loss of balance and bodily control, seizures and hallucinations.

The public is urged to contact a medical professional immediately if experiencing any of these symptoms.
Officials urge swimmers to avoid swimming in bodies of freshwater. Those who do should wear nose plugs or hold their nose when they jump or dive in.

The Naegleria fowleri does not pose a threat to swimmers in local springs, well-maintained pools and the ocean, according to the CDC. It can't be transmitted from person to person, either.


Brain-eating amoeba claims third victim as man dies after using tap water to clear his sinuses
 

A third person has died after being infected by brain-eating amoeba.

Health officials in Louisiana are linking the June death of an unidentified man in his early 20s to the infection that has killed a boy aged nine and a 16-year-old girl this month.

The young man's death was traced to the tap water he used in a neti pot, a small teapot-shaped container used to rinse out the sinuses with salt water to relieve allergies, colds and sinus trouble.

Health officials later found the amoeba in the home's water system.
Dr. Raoult Ratard, Louisiana's state epidemiologist, said the problem was confined to the man's house and was not found in city water samples.

The young man had not been swimming nor been in contact with surface water, Ratard added.

Christian Alexander Strickland, nine, from Virginia, became infected by the parasite after he went to a fishing camp in the state
--
He died from meningitis on August 5 and health department officials confirmed that his death was from meningitis caused by an infection by the brain-eating amoeba, known as Naegleria fowleri.

This week, Courtney Nash, 16, from Florida, died from the same infection after swimming in a local lake.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:41 PM | Permalink

Mum, the bear is eating me!"

Horrific!  After reading this story, I am feeling distraught just imagining what they all went through.

'Mum, the bear is eating me!': Frantic final phone calls of woman, 19, eaten alive by brown bear and its three cubs

A distraught mother listened on a mobile phone as her teenage daughter was eaten alive by a brown bear and its three cubs.

-Olga+Stepfather Eaten By Bears

Olga Moskalyova, 19, gave an horrific hour-long running commentary on her own death in three separate calls as the wild animals mauled her. She screamed: 'Mum, the bear is eating me! Mum, it’s such agony. Mum, help!'

Her mother Tatiana said that at first she thought she was joking.'But then I heard the real horror and pain in Olga’s voice, and the sounds of a bear growling and chewing,' she added. 'I could have died then and there from shock.'

Unknown to Tatiana, the bear had already killed her husband Igor Tsyganenkov - Olga’s stepfather - by overpowering him, breaking his neck and smashing his skull.

Olga, a trainee psychologist, saw the ­attack on her stepfather in tall grass and reeds by a river in Russia and fled for 70 yards before the mother bear grabbed her leg. As the creature toyed with her, she managed to call Tatiana several times during the prolonged attack.Tatiana rang her husband - not knowing he was ­already dead - but got no answer. She alerted the police and relatives in the village of Termalniy, near Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy, in the extreme east of Siberia. She begged them to rush to the river where the pair had gone to retrieve a fishing rod that Igor had left.

In a second call, a weak Olga gasped: 'Mum, the bears are back. She came back and brought her three babies. They’re... eating me.'

Finally, in her last call - almost an hour after the first - Olga sensed she was on the verge of death.
With the bears having apparently left her to die, she said: 'Mum, it’s not hurting any more. I don’t feel the pain. Forgive me for everything, I love you so much.'

The call cut off and that was the last Tatiana heard from her ­daughter.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:37 PM | Permalink

"It was like Jaws"

Another horrific 'being eaten' story.

Bride sees groom eaten by a shark

 Bullshark
A BRITISH bridegroom was killed by a shark off an idyllic honeymoon island yesterday - as the horrified bride he wed 11 days ago looked on.

Ian Redmond, 30, was attacked in shallow water 100ft off a Seychelles beach. Bride Gemma, 27, from Wigan, was sunbathing and heard him shout "Help, help" as the Bull shark savaged him. He suffered horrific injuries as the monster tore huge chunks of flesh from his body.
--
An islander said: "The man was swimming close to the beach. He began splashing and shouting. His arm was ripped off and parts of his torso were missing. There was a horrific amount of blood in the water. It was like Jaws."

Another witness said someone grabbed Gemma and kept her away from her mutilated husband.

He added: "The damage was too great. It was too horrific for her to see."

Beach restaurant boss Jeanne Vargiolu, 56, said Ian had lost one arm and had the flesh stripped off one leg.

He also had holes in his chest and stomach.

She added: "All the meat on one leg was gone."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:35 PM | Permalink

She wanted to be beautiful for her 40th birthday

Mother who had breast surgery to be 'beautiful' for her 40th birthday died the day after the procedure

A mother-of-three who got plastic surgery to look good for her 40th birthday died a day after the procedure.

 Adriana-Da-Silva

Adriana da Silva, 39, a Brazilian immigrant who had set up her own successful cleaning business in Framingham, Massachusetts, complained of feeling light-headed the day after getting breast implants.

She then fell in the bathroom of her home and was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead.  Doctors told the family she had a clot in her heart.
--
According to state licensing boards, the doctor is shown as a family practitioner with no particular expertise in plastic surgery; however, in the last 10 years, he has no criminal, malpractice, or disciplinary complaints against him.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 PM | Permalink

What more can you say?

 Roosevelt-Diary-

From Neatorama,  Teddy Roosevelt's Diary the Day His Wife Died

Teddy was just 25 when his first wife, Alice, died of Bright’s Disease two days after the birth of their daughter. After her death, he never spoke of his wife publicly again and even deferred his daughter’s questions about her mother to other family members. Her name was also Alice, but because it reminded Teddy too much of her mother, she became known in the family as “Baby Lee.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:24 PM | Permalink

August 13, 2011

Death by sand

Teenager dies on beach after burying himself in sand to hide from parents as a joke

A student accidentally buried himself alive in the sand and died whilst playing a ‘childish beach game’.

The horrific incident saw the unnamed 18-year-old suffer a cardiac arrest as he desperately waved his protruding hand above the sand as it collapsed around him.

Unfortunately the attempt to draw attention to himself went unnoticed on the crowded beach in Torreilles, close to Perpignan in south west France. 

The teenager from Pithiviers, in northern France, had originally dug himself the 3ft deep hole to hide from family and friends who all enjoying a day out.

‘It was a childish beach game which went horribly wrong,’ said an ambulance service spokesman who had helped with the attempted rescue.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:18 AM | Permalink

August 12, 2011

Too broke to bury the poor dead

Illinois is so broke, it can't afford to bury its poor dead.

Illinois officials sent a letter to more than 600 funeral directors around the state to let them know there's no money for funerals for individuals on public assistance.

In the past, the state has reserved about $13 million to help pay for an estimated 12,000 funerals for individuals who relied on public aid. Participating funeral homes were alloted $1,100 for funerals and $552 for the burial.

The Illinois Department of Human Services letter said it can only guarantee payments for pauper funerals through August 15.

Funeral directors have been advised to look for money from city or county governments, and to advise families in morgues until funding can be secured.

"Now the only viable option --- I don't mean to make light of it -- is to leave the body at the medical examiner office,"  Szykowny said. "After 60 to 90 days they'll take the body to what's called a potter's field and bury it in a numbered grave.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:35 AM | Permalink

Nancy Wake, R.I.P.

Blisteringly sexy, she killed Nazis with her bare hands and had a 5 million-franc bounty on her head. As she dies at 98, the extraordinary story of the real Charlotte Gray

A male comrade-in-arms in the French Resistance summed her up as: ‘The most  feminine woman I know, until the fighting starts. And then she is like five men.’ She lived up to both parts of that compliment. 

So feminine was she that when escaping from pursuers on one notable occasion, she dressed in a smart frock, silk stockings, high-heeled shoes and a camel-hair coat, arguing that she didn’t want to look like a hunted woman.
In that same outfit, she jumped from a  moving train into a vineyard to avoid capture at a Nazi checkpoint.

And so aggressive was she that, after being parachuted into France as a Special  Operations Executive agent, she disposed of a German guard with her bare hands and liked nothing better than bowling along in the front seat of a fast car through the countryside, a Sten gun on her lap and a cigar between her teeth, in search of Germans to kill.


 Nancywake


But Wake proved them wrong and died this week, aged 98, in a nursing home for retired veterans in London. Her death brought to an end a life of such daring, courage and glamour that she was the inspiration for the Sebastian Faulks novel Charlotte Gray, which was made into a film starring Cate Blanchett.

Read more of her extraordinary story at the link.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:30 AM | Permalink

August 11, 2011

'Grave Robber'

 Jeffrey Burke
Jeffrey Burke

Illinois 'grave robber' arrested for stealing up to $100,000 in vases from cemeteries 

An Illinois thief with a history of pillaging cemeteries has been charged with more of the same - swiping $100,000 in brass grave markers.

Police said Jeffrey Burke was nabbed after police spotted him stealing vases from Mount Emblem Cemetery graves in Elmhurst and selling them at a scrap yard.

Authorities told the Chicago Sun-Times that they recovered more than 400 stolen brass vases at two area cemeteries, valued at over $100,000.
--
In 2007, Mr Burke pleaded guilty to a similar crime, and was sentenced to five years in jail.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:25 PM | Permalink

Death by Hot Tub

Couple drowned after overheating while relaxing in their garden hot tub

A couple have drowned after overheating while relaxing in their garden hot tub.

Terry Kent and Melinda Sweeten were passed out as they lay back in 110 degree water in their Oregon hot tub.

Authorities said the hot water caused them to pass out and slipped below the water.

Friends said Kent, 56, and Sweeten, 57, had recently retired.

A family member was dropping off children, who were cared for by the victims, and found the bodies.

Oregon Deputy State Medical Examiner Dr. Larry Lewman conducted autopsies and determined that the couple died of "immersion hypothermia and drowning."

The manner of death was most likely accidental, Dr Lewman said, adding that toxicology test results have not been received.

'They were immersed in extremely hot water,' Dr Lewman said.

He said the water in the hot tub where the bodies were found was measured at 110 degrees, which is "way hotter than a hot tub is supposed to be."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:26 PM | Permalink

Organizing your family's genealogical records

Overwhelmed by a mountain of boxes of family archives you inherited from your grandfather or aunt?

Diane Haddad at Genealogy Insider gives some good advice for organizing your family archives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:09 PM | Permalink

August 10, 2011

"I knew that boy was gone, absolutely gone"

 Rescuedale Ostrander

Plucked from the sea: Moment boy, 12, is carried to shore after spending 20 minutes under water

A 12-year-old boy has survived after spending as long as 20 minutes immersed in the Pacific Ocean surf.

Charles 'Dale' Ostrander was visiting the southwest Washington coast with members of his church youth group last Friday when he was caught in a riptide north of Long Beach. Doug Knutzen is part of the volunteer surf rescue team that spotted the boy in the water.

When Knutzen carried Dale from the surf and handed him to medics, the veteran rescuer feared the worst 'I've been doing this since 1978,' Knutzen told The Oregonian. 'It's something you never get used to, but I knew that the boy was gone, absolutely gone.' 

But he's alive and talking though there may be some permanent brain damage.

The physicians 'were very clear that he had been under for too long, had been without oxygen for too long,' Kirsten Ostrander said, adding, 'We trust (God) no matter what.

'If he chooses to take Dale to heaven, and if he still chooses that, then he's still good,' she said.
'And if he chooses to bless us and give us back our son, he's still good
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:22 AM | Permalink

Death by recycling bin

Woman, 62, suffocates to death after falling head-first into her recycling bin

A woman who died after falling head-first into a recycling bin and wasn't noticed until her husband came from work got stuck in a position in which she couldn't breathe, a coroner said.

Sixty-two-year-old Sheila Decoster, of Toledo, was likely inside the bin for several hours before she was found on Friday, said Lucas County Deputy Coroner Diane Barnett.

Her husband, Richard Decoster, saw her legs sticking out of the 64-gallon container that sits alongside their porch after he returned home from work at around 5pm.

Mr Decoster told The Blade newspaper of Toledo: 'I just happened to look to the left and, honestly, thought it was a dummy. I shook her leg and called her name, and I knew she was gone.'

The couple, married for 43 years with three daughters, kept their recycling and trash bins next to their porch, which does not have a railing.

Investigators said it looked like Sheila Decoster was standing on her porch when she leaned over, lifted the lid on the bin and fell inside.

Dr Barnett couldn't say how long Mrs Decoster, who was still wearing pajamas, was in the recycling container before she was found, but she had been there for at least several hours.

What a sad way to die.  Condolences to her family.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 AM | Permalink

A new life after being baptized while in a coma

Harry Potter actress, 13, comes back from the dead after being baptized by a Catholic priest.

Child actor Lucy Hussey-Bergonzi, 13, collapsed from a brain haemorrhage just days after filming a walk-on part in 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'.

Lucy, of Hackney, East London, was rushed to hospital and had been kept alive by life support machines for five days when her parents were told she wouldn't make it.

Her collapse was triggered by a rare condition Lucy had carried since birth called Arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a cluster of abnormal blood vessels that remain undetected until they burst.

Lucy was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital on February 15, 2009, where she got through two operations while she was in a coma,

 Lucy Baptized Coma Mother

---
‘It was the day after her second operation when I turned to my husband Robert and said 'we have to get her baptised' said Denise.

‘At that point I really thought she was going to die and I wanted to give her the best chance in the next life.

‘We had no idea what we were doing but the hospital were brilliant and organised the whole thing for us in two days.

‘So five days after Lucy was first taken into hospital we were by her bedside saying prayers watching her about to be baptised.

‘Then the moment the priest put holy water on Lucy's head, her arm suddenly moved up. At first I thought she might be having a fit but within 24 hours she was taken off all the life support machines and tubes.

‘It could be she was recovering anyway, but the way it happened, even the nurses said it was a miracle.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1214)

This sacrament is called Baptism, after the central rite by which it is carried out: to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to "plunge" or "immerse"; the "plunge" into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death, from which he rises up by resurrection with him, as "a new creature".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:04 AM | Permalink

August 7, 2011

"He died between the 'drest crab' and the beouf en daube"

He died between the 'drest crab' and the boeuf en daube

Ten years ago this week, Brian Brindley, one of my closest friends, threw a sumptuous dinner party at the Athenaeum Club to celebrate his 70th birthday. Brian had been one of the most cultivated and flamboyant clergymen in the Church of England: he looked like an enormously fat 18th–century monsignor. By now, however, he was a Roman Catholic layman. A famous epicurean, he had managed to boil down the menu to just seven courses: prosciutto and figs; avgolemono; “drest crab”; boeuf en daube; summer pudding; angels on horseback; and fruit for dessert. The crab was to be accompanied by samphire – an endangered species, he told me proudly. (This was a man who refused to wear fur unless it was “cruel fur”.) The invitations instructed guests to wear “black tie and short coat (smoking or tuxedo)”.

There were 14 of us in the intimate North Library of the club; Brian was worried that a guest might drop out, leaving us an unlucky 13, so he persuaded a friend to sit by the phone, ready to don a dinner jacket if the need arose. As it happened, however, we were destined to be 13 after all. For, between the drest crab and the boeuf en daube, poor Brian died.

I say “poor Brian”, but the truth is that this was a magnificent exit. He had been horribly ill with heart failure for years; he expected and dreaded a lingering death in hospital. As it was, he died surrounded by his closest friends, during a feast of his own devising. His heart simply stopped; his white head lolled forward; he was unconscious before he knew what was happening.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:25 PM | Permalink

"This is just an extraordinarily bad day for America"

"This is just an extraordinarily bad day for America" writes Claire Berlinski

Thirty-one U.S. special forces members in Afghanistan died aboard a NATO helicopter that crashed Saturday in an area reported to have insurgent activity, officials said.

The crash occurred in the eastern province of Wardak, Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office said in a statement.

It is among the worst single-day losses of American lives in the Afghan war.

Among the 25 U.S. special operations forces killed in Wardak province were 22 Navy SEALS, considered to be the "best of the best." Seven Afghan troops also died.

The majority of the Navy SEALs who died belonged to the same covert unit that conducted the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May, though they were not the same men, the military official said.

The troops died during a "quick reaction" mission to assist military personnel pinned down by insurgents in a fierce firefight, a U.S. military official told CNN.

She asks 

Reportedly, the helicopter was shot down. The Taliban are taking credit, but they would. If indeed they shot it down, it is very alarming--the obvious question would be, with what?

"We will draw inspiration from their lives," said President Obama.

It was not clear if the Taliban had deliberately targeted the helicopter as an act of revenge.

But its shooting down is bound to be greeted in many parts of the Arab world as terrible vengeance for the death of the Al Qaeda leader.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:00 AM | Permalink

August 6, 2011

The grace of a happy death

The Secret of True Happiness

Yet the phrase “a happy death” is for most people today a contradiction in terms. For the Church, it is the most desirable conclusion to a good life. The Catholic tradition has for centuries encouraged us to pray for that grace and the Roman Missal has a set of prayers “for the grace of a happy death”. What we are praying for is that at the hour of our death we may be reconciled with God and at peace with our neighbor, strengthened by the sacraments of the Church to pass into everlasting life. In addition to that, each of us will have a particular desire for the time of our death: that an estranged relative might be reconciled or that our country might have made peace with its enemies. Taking all of these together is the happy death for which we pray.

We know that in general we must pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on us. A happy death, however, seems an exception to this because we cannot control our death. People can, however, take steps to make death happy by means of what project managers call “back-planning”. Starting at the end point (the ideal state at the time of death) people need to ask: in order to be in that state, what needs to be done the day before, the week before, the month before and so on, right up until the present moment. Then people can discover what they need to do today in order to prepare for a happy death.
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Back-planning from our death bed will include making sure we give time every day to what matters: the classic virtues of justice and courage, prudence and temperance; the theological virtues of faith, hope and love; daily prayer and regular participation in the sacraments. This is the happiness that we are celebrating in this year’s Day for Life. It is a happiness that all can find in riches and in poverty, in sickness and in health, in death and in life.

Momento Mori.

-Memento Mori

Count no man happy until he is dead -Euripides 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 AM | Permalink

August 4, 2011

Holy Smoke

Going out with a bang: The service that will turn your loved one into live ammunition

A bizarre new service that allows you to lock and load your loved one’s ashes is blowing up on the internet.

Holy Smoke, based in Stockton, Alabama, boasts a 'tribute to your outdoorsman or woman like no other,' according to their website.

The company offers a means to 'continue to protect your home and family even after you are gone,' by turning ashes into fully-functioning bullets.

So how does it work?

Once the deceased’s family decides the calibre and gauge of the ammunition, they send one pound of their dead relative's ashes.

From there, the staff place a portion of the cremated remains into each shotshell or cartridge, depending on the ammo selected.

In return, Holy Smoke sends the family a case of up to 250 bullets for display in the home or to take on a hunting trip.

The company claims its methods add up to a fraction of the cost of most burial services cost.

Prices begin at $1,250 for the 250 rounds for shot guns and pistols, and 100 rounds for rifles.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:31 AM | Permalink

"Not through my death. But through yours."

After 5 years of writing an advice column about the end of life, Judy Bachrach says her letters fall into 3 categories: letters about inheritance and disinheritance, questions about death etiquette and how to dispose of corpses.

The New Death.Those seeking advice reveal a new attitude about the end

I marvel over people’s interest in all three categories, but especially their obsession with the fate of the outer wrappings. How can it matter? Why does it matter?...

And then, at odd moments, the answer comes to me. In these modern times, the Afterlife is now. That’s what it’s come down to. No one wants to wait. No one thinks waiting ages for some kind of final justice will improve the odds. Atheist or believer, pragmatist or romantic, we all consign to death, someone else’s death, a long hoped-for settling of accounts. We want our heavenly rewards, emotional or tangible, to arrive today, and the death of a relative is the doorway to those rewards.
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But if there is a heaven, a Final Reward for sufferings here on earth, it will come, the newer general feeling goes, not through my death. But through yours.  And that is the death people write me about.

The narcissism of people today is astonishing and blinding.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:19 AM | Permalink

August 3, 2011

Skydiving quadriplegic plunges to death

Disabled in a car crash as a junior in high school, Zack Fogle, a quadraplegic with limited mobility in his extremities, had a custom motorcycle built to accommodate his disability.  He also took up skydiving and had a parachute custom-built  with handles located where he could operate them.  For five years and with more than 125 jumps, Zack Fogle showed incredible drive to live life as fully as possible.

At the 44th annual Lost Prairie Boogie, he was assisted on his first jump.  His parachute did not open and his emergency chute was not set to automatically release.

Skydiving quadriplegic plunges to his death after his parachute fails to open

Mr Fogle didn't deploy his primary or emergency parachutes, and an emergency deployment mechanism that would have released his emergency chute as a fail-safe had not been properly activated prior to the jump.
Skydivers can manually deploy reserve chutes mid-fall, but physical challenges likely prevented Fogle from taking advantage of what is considered a last-ditch but fail-safe practice, said White, a licensed pilot.

He said it also was possible that Fogle experienced spatial disorientation, preventing him from realizing before it was too late how near the earth he was.

'He would never have seen the ground coming; he may not ever have known,'
said White.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

Death by Siletto

Death by stiletto: Woman 'kills her boyfriend with spiked heel to the head'

A woman allegedly beat her boyfriend to death with the spiked heel of a stiletto shoe.

Thelma Carter, 46, struck her live-in boyfriend Robert Higdon, 58, with the shoe at their trailer park home in Augusta, Georgia, police said.

Authorities are unsure how many times Mr Higdon was hit with the shoe before he died.  Carter has been charged with murder.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 PM | Permalink