February 28, 2012

When Doctors Die

I can never read or post too many articles like this.

Why Doctors Die Differently

What's unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared with most Americans, but how little. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care that they could want. But they tend to go serenely and gently.

Doctors don't want to die any more than anyone else does. But they usually have talked about the limits of modern medicine with their families. They want to make sure that, when the time comes, no heroic measures are taken. During their last moments, they know, for instance, that they don't want someone breaking their ribs by performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (which is what happens when CPR is done right).
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more people receive futile "lifesaving" care, and fewer people die at home than did, say, 60 years ago. Nursing professor Karen Kehl, in an article called "Moving Toward Peace: An Analysis of the Concept of a Good Death," ranked the attributes of a graceful death, among them: being comfortable and in control, having a sense of closure, making the most of relationships and having family involved in care. Hospitals today provide few of these qualities.

Written directives can give patients far more control over how their lives end. But while most of us accept that taxes are inescapable, death is a much harder pill to swallow, which keeps the vast majority of Americans from making proper arrangements.

It doesn't have to be that way. Several years ago, at age 60, my older cousin Torch (born at home by the light of a flashlight, or torch) had a seizure. It turned out to be the result of lung cancer that had gone to his brain. We learned that with aggressive treatment, including three to five hospital visits a week for chemotherapy, he would live perhaps four months.

Torch was no doctor, but he knew that he wanted a life of quality, not just quantity. Ultimately, he decided against any treatment and simply took pills for brain swelling. He moved in with me.

We spent the next eight months having fun together like we hadn't had in decades. We went to Disneyland, his first time, and we hung out at home. Torch was a sports nut, and he was very happy to watch sports and eat my cooking. He had no serious pain, and he remained high-spirited.

One day, he didn't wake up. He spent the next three days in a coma-like sleep and then died. The cost of his medical care for those eight months, for the one drug he was taking, was about $20.

As for me, my doctor has my choices on record. They were easy to make, as they are for most physicians. There will be no heroics, and I will go gentle into that good night. Like my mentor Charlie. Like my cousin Torch. Like so many of my fellow doctors.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:48 PM | Permalink

February 24, 2012

‘She is survived by her daughter who betrayed her trust and son who broke her heart’

Obituary of 94-year-old woman goes viral

When 93-year-old Josie Annello died at home, her son put a obituary in the local paper, alongside a happy, smiling photo of his mother.

Describing her as supportive and compassionate,Tampa Tribune readers thought it seemed like a loving public tribute, until they reached the third line, which read:

'She is survived by her Son, 'A.J.', who loved and cared for her; Daughter 'Ninfa', who betrayed her trust, and Son 'Peter', who broke her heart.'

The death notice, published on February 14, publicly revealed an ugly spat between Angelo 'A.J.' Anello, who wrote and placed the obituary, and his brother and sister.

Copies of the obituary have spread across the internet, dividing opinion between those who think Mr Anello was disrespectful and others who think he was 'just telling the truth.'

 Obituary

Never do this. 

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:10 PM | Permalink

Whitney needs bodyguards after death to protect her grave

Fear of graverobbers

WHITNEY Houston has her own 24-hour armed bodyguard to protect her jewellery-filled gold coffin from grave robbers.

Fears that ghouls will plunder her resting place were triggered after it was revealed she was buried wearing up to £300,000 of jewels and designer clothes.

The singer, who died a fortnight ago in her LA hotel room after a drugs and booze binge, lies in a gold-lined coffin worth tens of thousands of pounds.

She is draped in a purple gown and also wears a diamond brooch and earrings and a pair of glittering gold slippers.

But the treasure-filled casket has caused alarm among the star’s family and friends.

And now minders have been ordered to watch over her grave-side at Fairview Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.

 Whitney's Grave

A source said last night: “There is a very genuine fear that her coffin will be targeted by grave robbers.

“It would be hard for them to actually dig her casket up, but that won’t stop psychotic fans or people who think it could make them money.

“The fact she was buried with such valuable jewellry is just an invitation to sickos.

“It’s ironic that Whitney, who was most famous for The Bodyguard movie when she was alive, has to have bodyguards even in death.”

Armed security men around Whitney’s final resting place have already turned away busloads of fans who have made “pilgrimages” to her grave.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:52 PM | Permalink

Grave robbing, ghost marriages, gendercide,

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences estimates that by 2020, one in five young men would be unable to find a bride because of the dearth of young women.  These non-existent women were killed in the womb because they were girls.  The Economist reports on The worldwide war on baby girls.

[W]ithin ten years, China faces the prospect of having the equivalent of the whole young male population of America, or almost twice that of Europe’s three largest countries, with little prospect of marriage, untethered to a home of their own and without the stake in society that marriage and children provide.

At least 100 million girls have disappeared and the number is rising.

In fact the destruction of baby girls is a product of three forces: the ancient preference for sons; a modern desire for smaller families; and ultrasound scanning and other technologies that identify the sex of a fetus. In societies where four or six children were common, a boy would almost certainly come along eventually; son preference did not need to exist at the expense of daughters. But now couples want two children—or, as in China, are allowed only one—they will sacrifice unborn daughters to their pursuit of a son. That is why sex ratios are most distorted in the modern, open parts of China and India. It is also why ratios are more skewed after the first child: parents may accept a daughter first time round but will do anything to ensure their next—and probably last—child is a boy. The boy-girl ratio is above 200 for a third child in some places.

What happens when the natural balance of the sexes is upset . 

Chinese grave robbing gang caught selling DEAD woman into marriage days after family had done the same to fulfill superstition

A Chinese gang of grave robbers was caught trying to sell a dead woman into marriage - days after her family had done exactly the same thing.

The woman's devastated parents,from the rural Hebei Province near Beijing and with the surname Wu, initially chose to sell her body for £3,500, for a 'ghost marriage'.

This is the ancient tradition where dead woman are united with bachelors to stop them wandering the afterlife alone.

But just days later grave robbers snatched her corpse and tried to pair her off, with another dead man in a nearby town.

Police caught the gang of five offering the woman to another family for £3,000, a slight discount to reflect several days of decomposition.

Black market businesses have sprung up, with many acting as cadaver brokers, matchmakers for the dead, body snatchers, crooked undertakers and grave robbers.

In 2007, a man was arrested after killing and then selling six women.

He claimed that 'killing people and selling their bodies is less work than stealing them from graves.'

But don't think that sex selective abortions happen only in China or India.

In England there is shock when it was revealed that doctors were offering mothers abortions based purely on the gender of their unborn child even though abortion based on 'sex-selection' is against the law.

Doctors 'agree to abort babies for being the wrong sex...no questions asked'

‘This investigation confirms the reality of eugenics in modern British medicine, in which some innocent human beings are deemed too inconvenient to be allowed to live.

There is no law in the United States against sex-selective abortions.  Such abortions are common in the United States particularly 
among the Asian populations.
      Why no such law? Nearly nine out of ten Americans oppose abortion for reasons of sex selection, but  The feminists are against it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:30 PM | Permalink

February 23, 2012

The Lost Art of Dying

In the Guardian, Ash Wednesday: The Lost Art of Dying

But art-house cinema and the Catholic church are two of the very few places where death remains part of the public conversation.  Elsewhere, death is camouflaged by fluffy euphemisms like "passing away" or "falling asleep", or otherwise approached with detachment through the scientific discourse of medicine. Long before the present government dreamt up its latest reforms to the NHS, death itself had been culturally privatised.

These days, if we are asked how we want to die, we generally say that we want it to happen quickly, painlessly and preferably in our sleep. In other words, we don't want dying to become something we experience as a part of life. This would have made little sense to generations past. For centuries, what was feared most was "dying unprepared". Death was an opportunity to put things right. To say the things that had been left unsaid: "Sorry", "I was wrong", "I always loved you". We used to die surrounded by our extended family. Now we die surrounded by technology, with a belief in medical science often replacing the traditional puzzle of human existence.

A culture that keeps death out of sight and mind is one that is increasingly lost for words when comforting others in their grief. Instead of having that important conversation in the supermarket with the lady down the street who has lost her husband, we slip down the next aisle with the self-justifying thought that we do not want to disturb her


As a hospital chaplain administering to the dying you learn a lot about life and human dignity

At various times I have acted as a hospital chaplain or as a visitor at a hospice (sadly this is something I no longer do) and this has brought me into contact with a lot of people who were in the process of dying. You learn a lot about life and human dignity when you are with the dying. All of them, without a single exception, were people who died calmly, peacefully, indeed, serenely and happily, which was wonderful to see. I remember the very first dying people I ever visited in hospital: they were the sort of people who cheered you up with their radiant love of God and neighbour. It is some decades ago now, but I still remember them, and I particularly remember the way they so devotedly received Holy Communion in their hospital beds. Having known them gives me great existential confidence.

I really do not mind dying, or the prospect of death, having seen so many people go through it so happily. All I want when I am dying – I suppose I had better mention it just in case people don’t take it as read – is the presence of a priest, who will administer Holy Communion (if possible) and the Sacrament of the Sick. And I also want to hear the prayers for the dying, particularly the wonderful words of the Final Commendation, along with the Apostolic Pardon.

In case you do not know them, the Prayer of Commendation goes like this:

Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
in the name of God the almighty Father, who created you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who suffered for you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit, who was poured out upon you,
go forth Christian soul.
May you live in peace this day, may your home be with God in Zion,
with Mary, the virgin Mother of God, with Joseph, and all the angels and saints.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink

February 21, 2012

Grief is not a mental illness that should be treated with anti-depressants"

'Grief is not a mental illness that should be treated with pills': Doctors hit back at creeping medicalisation of life events

Treatment of grief with antidepressants is 'dangerously simplistic', experts say
Backlash follows the American Psychiatric Association's reclassification of grief as a mental illness

Grief is not a mental illness that should be treated with anti-depressants, experts say.

In an unsigned editorial in the influential medical journal The Lancet, experts argue that grief does not require psychiatrists and that 'legitimising' the treatment of grief with antidepressants 'is not only dangerously simplistic, but also flawed.'

The debate follows a decision by the American Psychiatric Association to classify grief as a mental illness in a bid to allow to doctors to be more flexible about how early patients can be treated for depression after the death of a loved one.

The lead editorial states: 'Grief is not an illness; it is more usefully thought of as part of being human and a normal response to the death of a loved one.'

The Lancet's comments follow the APA's decision to add grief reactions to their list of mental illnesses in their fifth edition of the psychiatry 'bible', Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, (DSM-5), which is due out in 2013.

But The Lancet, along with many psychiatrists and psychologists have called for the changes to be halted - saying they would lead to a 'tick box’ system that did not consider the wider needs of patients but labelled them as 'mentally ill’.

They agree that in rare cases, bereavement will develop into prolonged grief or major depression that may merit medical treatment. However, they suggested that for the majority of the bereaved, 'doctors would do better to offer time, compassion, remembrance and empathy, than pills.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:20 PM | Permalink

February 20, 2012

"At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle. At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar."

New York Times obituary by Marglit Fox

He crossed the Atlantic because it was there, and the Pacific because it was also there.

He made both crossings in a rowboat because it, too, was there, and because the lure of sea, spray and sinew, and the history-making chance to traverse two oceans without steam or sail, proved irresistible.

In 1969, after six months alone on the Atlantic battling storms, sharks and encroaching madness, John Fairfax, who died this month at 74, became the first lone oarsman in recorded history to traverse any ocean.

In 1972, he and his girlfriend, Sylvia Cook, sharing a boat, became the first people to row across the Pacific, a yearlong ordeal during which their craft was thought lost. (The couple survived the voyage, and so, for quite some time, did their romance.
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For all its bravura, Mr. Fairfax’s seafaring almost pales beside his earlier ventures. Footloose and handsome, he was a flesh-and-blood character out of Graham Greene, with more than a dash of Hemingway and Ian Fleming shaken in.

At 9, he settled a dispute with a pistol. At 13, he lit out for the Amazon jungle.

At 20, he attempted suicide-by-jaguar
. Afterward he was apprenticed to a pirate. To please his mother, who did not take kindly to his being a pirate, he briefly managed a mink farm, one of the few truly dull entries on his otherwise crackling résumé, which lately included a career as a professional gambler.
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He later studied literature and philosophy at a university in Buenos Aires and at 20, despondent over a failed love affair, resolved to kill himself by letting a jaguar attack him. When the planned confrontation ensued, however, reason prevailed — as did the gun he had with him.

In Panama, he met a pirate, applied for a job as a pirate’s apprentice and was taken on. He spent three years smuggling guns, liquor and cigarettes around the world, becoming captain of one of his boss’s boats, work that gave him superb navigational skills.

 John Fairfax Rowboat

John Fairfax, obituary London Telegraph

John Fairfax, who has died aged 74, was a British adventurer in the classic mould, and achieved celebrity in 1969 as the first person to row solo across the Atlantic.

Fairfax had already led a colourful existence as a smuggler in Panama when he decided to realise his ambition of rowing the Atlantic, conceived 15 years earlier when he had read in Reader’s Digest an account of two Norwegians, George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen, who in 1896 had become the first to cross the ocean in a small boat with only oars for propulsion. No one, however, had done it solo.

But Fairfax needed financial backing, and in the summer of 1966 he came to London to find sponsors. To get fit, every day he ran two miles, did two hours of swimming and weightlifting at the YMCA, and three or four hours’ rowing on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. When asked why he was doing it, Fairfax — who, under the “Occupation” field in his passport, described himself as “Adventurer” — would reply: “Because almost anybody with a little bit of know-how can sail. I’m after a battle with nature, primitive and raw.”
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Fairfax had several encounters with sharks. Once a dusky shark rammed his boat, sending him sprawling on to the deck. Later, as he was swimming beneath Britannia scraping away the barnacles with a knife, he encountered a mako. With no time to get out of the water, Fairfax flattened himself against the boat and plunged his knife into the creature, which “pulled away from me, and, in doing so, ripped himself open from mouth to tail. I climbed into Britannia in record time. ”
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John Fairfax was born in Rome on May 21 1937 to a Bulgarian mother and an English father, who worked for the BBC in London. John would meet his father only once, when he came to London in the late Sixties, but the encounter was not a success. “We had money,” Fairfax later recalled of his childhood, “and I got everything I wanted. What I lacked was a father for an authority figure. It made me an opinionated little brat.”

Professional adventurer John Fairfax  dies at 74 in Las Vegas

His wife said: 'He was a man of unbelievable strength and courage and confidence in everything he did. He thought nature was a worthy challenge, and he loved nature.'

John Fairfax used two different custom-made boats on the ocean journeys and looked to the stars to help him navigate.

He survived by eating up to eight pounds of fish a day and had a system to convert ocean water into drinking water.

Mrs Fairfax said: 'On the Pacific, a shark took a big chunk of his arm out when he was spearing fish. There you are on the Pacific Ocean and there's no hospital, and you need to row. He was an amazing, amazing human being.'
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He also spoke five languages, was a talented chef and regularly played the card game baccarat at Las Vegas casinos, his wife said.

She added: 'He believed a human could accomplish anything if they had confidence. When he would get an idea in mind,

Ms Cook, 73, who lives near London, remained lifelong friends with Mr Fairfax.

She told the New York Times after his death: 'He's always been a gambler. He was going to the casino every night when I met him - it was craps in those days. And at the end of the day, adventures are a kind of gamble, aren't they?'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 PM | Permalink

Whitney Houston Funeral

Drudge headline, Nation Goes to Church,  And so they did and so did I.  Because I sing in a gospel choir in the winter, a friend called to tell me that  her funeral was being streamed live on CNN.  And it was  a  A Spectacular, Spiritual Going Home Ceremony

More stars were gathered in a church yesterday than attended last weekend’s Grammy Awards ceremony. It was a setting where star entertainers exhibited total respectful dignity … an Oscar winner riveted the audience with a moving tribute … a casket emitted a mysterious glow … and a global audience were glued to their TV sets. It was almost surreal.
What’s more, these stars were gathered in this church to participate in a service that fully acknowledged and glorified God.
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Her mother Cissy Houston decided to hold the service in New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, the family’s home Church, rather than a large arena where thousands would come. That decision could not have been better. The family and very close friends could have a private service while the world was able to watch. The church setting also greatly affected the overall decorum.

The best use of media ever observed was demonstrated as a CNN camera was allowed inside to televise the service live so that all of her fans could take part while her family and close friends were able to have a sense of intimacy and privacy. And in this setting, the entertainment world was at its absolute best with everyone focused only on God and Houston.

The camera in the balcony was not obvious as it zoomed in and out discreetly. There was no impression of a media event. It was very subtle.

The almost four-hour service, which began at noon EST, captivated the audience both in the church and around the world. Time was not even a consideration.

Speaker after speaker — all high-powered people — mesmerized the crowd with humorous stories, touching tales and personal insights that were fascinating and informative.
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Kevin Costner told how he, too, had grown up in the Baptist Church and how he wanted Houston to star in his film “The Bodyguard.” She was afraid to try it, not knowing if she would be good on film. Besides, she had to go on tour for a year. Costner put off the shoot until her tour was over. He was that sure that she was the only one who could play the role effectively.
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And the theme song, “I’ll Always Love You,” originally recorded by Dolly Parton, almost didn’t make it into the film. Costner persisted and that song became an all-time hit and identifying song for the movie.

Singer Dionne Warwick talked about when Houston sang The National Anthem at the Super Bowl the CD version sold more than a million copies. Warwick then said she was waiting to see Houston sing the phone book.
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Rev. Marvin Winans, who closed the service with the rousing song, “Let The Church Say Amen,” made this comment: “By having the service here, Cissy brought the whole world to church today.” A big amen to that.

As they started the very formal moving of the casket down the aisle to the hearse outside, a recording of Houston’s hit song, “I”ll Always Love You,” began to play. That’s when everybody lost it. Especially when seeing Costner slowly walking down the aisle behind the casket. Wow!

R.I.P.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:57 AM | Permalink

February 18, 2012

Who will be crying at your funeral?

Who Will Be Crying At Your Funeral?

I attended a memorial service last week for a 23-year-old man whose life ended far too soon.
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The service was so crowded that if a Fire Marshal had driven by there would have definitely been an issue. When the often-awkward time arrived to open up the microphone to anyone wanting to say something about the deceased – it wasn’t awkward; it was an amazing and inspiring time, which lasted more than 90 minutes. People who knew him well, barely knew him at all, hadn’t seem him in years, and people from different religious, economic and generational backgrounds all shared stories about how he touched their lives. His time on this earth had huge impact – will yours?
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This man was a servant. This man was a leader. This man was an example for us all. He understood what mattered; he used his time where it made the biggest difference. He never talked about doing things – he just did them. He was mature beyond his years and lived a life people won’t forget. The world is a better place because he was here. Do you have the courage to make the world better?

What will your funeral look like? If you haven’t lived the life you’d want publicly recounted someday, it’s not too late to change. The future isn’t some ethereal, distant event – it begins in just a fraction of a second.  Only YOU can choose how you’ll live your life.  Leadership isn’t about titles – it’s about the choices you make, the causes you serve, and the people you impact. The best legacy is one that can be lived before it’s left behind. Who’ll be crying at your funeral?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink

Hitler's Son and How Stalin Became a Catholic

New claims emerge that Fuhrer had a son with Frenchwoman

Now new information has emerged that adds weight to Jean-Marie Loret’s claim to have been Hitler’s son from a brief relationship with a French woman during the First World War.

-Hitler + Jean-Marie Loret
Hitler on the left, Jean-Marie Loret on the right

Mr Loret, who was born in March, 1918, grew up knowing nothing about his father, apart from the fact that he was German.

It was only in the late 1950s, just before  her death, that his mother, Charlotte Lobjoie, finally told him the story that was to haunt him for the rest of his life. At 16, she told him, she had a brief affair with Hitler while he was a young soldier fighting in northern France.  Her extraordinary story has divided historians for years.
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Jean-Marie grew up to fight the Germans in 1939 and later, during the Nazi occupation, joined the French Resistance.
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The news of his father’s identity appalled him and for 20 years he tried to forget it.

He once said: ‘In order not to get depressed, I worked non-stop, never took a holiday, and had no hobbies. For twenty years I didn’t even go to the cinema.’

'He had the feelings of many illegitimate children – the desire to find a past, however heavy...'

How Stalin became a Catholic

Tolstoy once remarked that we die as we live and that we can’t expect to die a good death except through living a good life. A friend has just sent me the obituary of Svetlana Stalin, daughter of the dictator, who died peacefully at a nursing home in Wisconsin on November 22 2011. This obituary, from the Christmas issue of The Catholic, published by a small community of religious from the Orkney Islands, describes the turbulent and often sad life of this woman, whose mother was driven to suicide by her father when she was six and whose father later brutally rejected her when she married without his consent.

 Svetlana+Stalin

Married three times, giving birth to three children, two of whom she became permanently estranged from, she lived in Cambridge for some years. It was there, in 1982, “on a cold December day, the feast of St Lucy… the decision to enter the Catholic Church came to me very naturally”, as she writes in her memoirs.. This decision had been influenced by a long friendship/correspondence with an Italian Catholic priest and the support and kindness of a Catholic couple she had met in America.

Svetlana writes that after her conversion “Only now I understand the wonderful grace that the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist produce, no matter what day of the year, and even on a daily basis. Before, I was unwilling to forgive and repent, and I was never able to love my enemies. But I feel very different from before, since I attend Mass every day.
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The obituary includes Svetlana’s recollection of the death of Stalin himself. It seems he suffered a stroke on the night of February 28 1953. She writes, “The death agony was terrible. He literally choked to death as we watched. At what seemed the very last moment he suddenly opened his eyes and cast a glance over everyone in the room. It was a terrible glance, insane or perhaps angry and full of fear of death. Then he suddenly lifted his left hand. The gesture was incomprehensible and full of menace…”

New York Times obituary here

But she could not forgive his cruelty to her. “He broke my life,” she said. “I want to explain to you. He broke my life.” 

And he left a shadow from which she could never emerge. “Wherever I go,” she said, “here, or Switzerland, or India, or wherever. Australia. Some island. I will always be a political prisoner of my father’s name.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:50 AM | Permalink

February 16, 2012

Death at 95 at fashion show

Zelda Kaplan dies at New York Fashion Week after collapsing at front row of Joanna Mastroianni runway show

The Fashion Week crowd was stunned Wednesday when 95-year-old nightlife legend Zelda Kaplan died during a runway show.

Kaplan was seated near gossip queen Cindy Adams and supermodel Carol Alt in the front row of designer Joanna Mastroianni’s show when she appeared to faint, falling forward in her seat and “it looked like her eyelids started to flutter,” one witness said.

Moments earlier, she had caught the eye of photographers with her scarlet print skirt suit, matching hat and black heels.

A former ballroom dance instructor and a champion of women’s rights, the twice-divorced Kaplan refused to be defined by her age, remaining a club kid at heart.

“She did have one crazy, fun life, that lady,” said Amy Sacco, owner of shuttered nightclub Bungalow 8. “She was the most loyal customer ever, and the most fun.”

Decked out in her signature African-print dresses and oversize sunglasses, Kaplan “could outlast the wildest youngsters,” said Sacco. “There were 20-year-olds who couldn't keep up with her.”

 Zelda Kaplan 95

Zelda Kaplan, 95,  at the fashion show moments before her death

I bet that she would have thought this was a good death and great way to go.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:28 PM | Permalink

February 15, 2012

Jefffrey Zaslow, R.I.P.

Remembrance of Jeffrey Zaslow, a lovely man whose column "Moving On'  in the Wall St Journal I very much enjoyed and often quoted.

 Jeffrey Zaslow

Life’s Frailty, and the Gestures That Go a Long Way by Tara Parker-Pope

I thought about our conversation this weekend when I learned the terrible news that Jeff had died in a car accident on snowy roads on his way to his Detroit-area home, returning from a book-signing event in northern Michigan. “The Girls From Ames” became a best seller, and remains my favorite among the books he wrote. But many people know Jeff as co-author of “The Last Lecture,” with the Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, who delivered that now famous lecture after learning he had pancreatic cancer. 

Mr. Zaslow was also co-author of memoirs with Gabrielle Giffords, the congresswoman from Arizona who was recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, and Chesley B. Sullenberger III, the pilot who safely ditched a damaged airliner on the Hudson River in 2009. Despite the disparate subject matter, Mr. Zaslow noted that much of his writing centered on the theme of love, commitment and living in the moment.

“We don’t know what moment in our lives we’re going to be judged on; that’s true for all of us,” he said at a TED talk last year, explaining what he had learned from Captain Sullenberger. “We’ve got to be honorable, be moral; we’ve got to work our hardest.”

Despite his success as a memoir co-author, Jeff’s true labor of love was his latest book, “The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters.” Dedicated to his daughters, the book focused on a bridal shop in Fowler, Mich., as a way to tell a story of parents’ hopes and dreams.
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Jeff often said he honed his skills for listening and offering advice during a stint as an advice columnist, a role he won in a contest to replace Ann Landers.

Wall St Journal breaks the news of its columnist, Jeffrey Zaslow, 53 killed in a car crash.

Jeffrey Zaslow, a longtime Wall Street Journal writer and best-selling author with a rare gift for writing about love, loss, and other life passages with humor and empathy, died at age 53 on Friday of injuries suffered in a car crash in northern Michigan.
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He was twice named best columnist by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and in 2000 he received its Will Rogers Humanitarian Award.

In a statement Friday to the staff of the Journal, editor Robert Thomson said: "Jeff's writing, for the Journal and in his books, has been a source of inspiration for many people around the world and his journalistic life has been a source of inspiration for all journalists."
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More recently, he became one of America's best-selling nonfiction writers, known internationally for such books as "The Girls from Ames," the story of a 40-year friendship among 10 women, and "The Last Lecture," about Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor who in 2007 was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given only a few months to live.

Chicago Sun Times obit

Jeffrey Zaslow — a former Chicago Sun-Times columnist who went on to sell millions of books with themes of compassion, inspiration and empathy — was killed Friday in a car crash in northern Michigan.

Mr. Zaslow teamed up with some of the country’s most inspirational people to help tell their stories, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and Randy Pausch, the subject of Zaslow’s huge hit The Last Lecture, which has been translated into 48 languages and sold more than five million copies in English.
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Mr. Zaslow, the father of three daughters, was killed in a crash near the northern Michigan town of Elmira at 9 a.m. Friday, according to FOX 2 Detroit, where his wife, Sherry Margolis, is an TV anchor.

Police said Mr. Zaslow lost control of his car and was hit by a semi-trailer truck on a snow-covered road. He had been in the area previously for a book-signing.
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“Jeff was just a bundle of energy,” said Sue Ontiveros, Sun-Times deputy features editor, who spent time as Zaslow’s editor. “He did so well with the column, and his subsequent books, because he was such a compassionate man who was interested in people. He was kind and funny and so humble about his talents. And oh, how he loved Sherry and their girls.”
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Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:40 PM | Permalink

February 14, 2012

"You saved his death"

Jordan Grument, an internal medicine physician writes about the challenge of creating a palliative care program

A transformation occurred during our fourth meeting. We had ten people in the program. As Nancy presented each patient, I could sense a difference in the tone of her voice. She was now approaching the project with a new sense of zest and zeal.

At the end of the meeting, I asked her what was going on.

Well, you know Mr. Smith? He passed yesterday.

Mr. Smith had end stage dementia. He was in the process of dying for months, but his physician had not bothered to talk to the family about end of life care.

His daughters and I completed the POLST form a few weeks ago. So when he started to die, we were all on the same page. He passed quietly in bed without ambulances, IVs, or CPR.

I could see the change in her posture. She got it. She now saw how powerful these conversations could be. I smiled and congratulated her on how well she was doing such an important job. She looked down embarrassed.

It’s not like I saved his life.

Our eyes met.

No, you did something most doctors have forgotten how to do.

You saved his death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 PM | Permalink

When to throw in the towel

If you have really talked to any nurses or doctors, you know this is true. 

Why MOST doctors like me would rather DIE than endure the pain of treatment we inflict on others for terminal diseases: Insider smashes medicine's big taboo.

 Doctor Mask Or

Should I discover tomorrow that I have advanced, life-threatening cancer, I won’t go rushing to the doctors for a heavily invasive course of medical treatment. No, I will shut up my London surgery, head to my home in Norfolk, stock up on gin and tonic and have a jolly good time until I meet my end.

Like most doctors, I understand that much of the care we offer patients who have serious, life-threatening illnesses is ultimately futile.

Worse, it can involve many months of gruelling treatments that might possibly extend the length of one’s life, but do nothing for its quality.

But while we give that care to patients, the vast majority of doctors I know would not want this for themselves. Yet this fact has long been taboo in the medical world. The silence has been shattered by Ken Murray, professor of family medicine at the University of Southern California.

He hit the headlines worldwide last month after publishing an essay in the online magazine Zocalo Public Square, which argues that most practising doctors would not put themselves through ‘life-saving’ interventions that are big on promises, but small on success, and involve great pain and distress.
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The vast majority of doctors would know it was time to throw in the towel if they were told by a specialist that they had advanced, aggressive cancer, and that their treatment could, at best, improve their chances of surviving for five years by five per cent.

I can think of only one doctor among all my medical acquaintances who has had cancer and fought it with medicine all the way to their death.
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Read the whole article. Remember this when your time comes.  It's the quality, not the quantity of life that counts especially at the end of life.  Don't spend it undergoing chemotherapy that may at most just months to your life.  You're far better off in hospice or surrounded by those you love, enjoying what life you have to live.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:07 PM | Permalink

In situ

German soldiers preserved in World War I shelter discovered after nearly 100 years

Twenty-one German soldiers entombed in a perfectly preserved World War One shelter have been discovered 94 years after they were killed.

The men were part of a larger group of 34 who were buried alive when an Allied shell exploded above the tunnel in 1918 causing it to cave in.

Thirteen bodies were recovered from the underground shelter but the remaining men had to be left under a mountain of mud as it was too dangerous to retrieve them.

Nearly a century later French archaeologists stumbled upon the mass grave on the former Western Front during excavation work for a road building project.

Many of the skeletal remains were found in the same positions the men had been in at the time of the collapse, prompting experts to liken the scene to Pompeii.

A number of the soldiers were discovered sitting upright on a bench, one was lying in his bed and another was in the foetal position having been thrown down a flight of stairs.

As well as the bodies, poignant personal effects such as boots, helmets, weapons, wine bottles, spectacles, wallets, pipes, cigarette cases and pocket books were also found.

Even the skeleton of a goat was found, assumed to be a source of fresh milk for the soldiers.

Archaeologists believe the items were so well preserved because hardly any air, water or lights had penetrated the trench.

The 300ft long tunnel was located 18ft beneath the surface near the small town of Carspach in the Alsace region in France.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:45 PM | Permalink

February 11, 2012

Drive thru funeral home

 Drivethru Funeralhome

LA's f\drive-thru and bulletproof funeral home

"The mortuary, located in Compton, claims to offer an efficient way for prominent members of the community to be viewed en masse. Elderly who have a hard time walking don't have to leave their cars. One possible reason for the drive-thru's success could stem back to the 1980s, when Compton was a hotbed for gang violence. The LA Times reported that cemetery shootouts made gang members reluctant to gather for graveside services. And since the glass partition of the Robert L. Adam's funeral parlor is bulletproof, it became a popular location for gang funerals."
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"You can come by after work, you don't need to deal with parking, you can sign the book outside and the family knows that you paid your respects," Scott Adams told the Times. "It's a convenience thing."

via American Digest

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:01 AM | Permalink

February 8, 2012

Killed for Facebook Defriending

Father, 60, charged with murder after 'he shot dead couple who defriended daughter on Facebook'

A father shot dead a young couple after allegedly becoming upset that they deleted his daughter on Facebook.

Marvin Potter, 60, has been charged with the first degree murders of Billy Payne Jr, 36, and his 23-year-old girlfriend Billie Jean Hayworth, police said today.

Miss Hayworth's eight-month-old baby was found unharmed in her arms at their Mountain City home in Tennessee.

Both victims had been shot in the head and Mr Payne had his throat cut, according to Timesnews.net.

The victims had complained to police that Jenelle Potter, 30, was harassing them after they deleted her as a friend on the social networking site, according to Sheriff Mike Reece.

The sheriff said: 'It's a senseless thing.'

Sure is.  What a tragic end to this couple.  I can't begin to imagine the trauma to the 8-month old baby, now an orphan for the rest of

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:39 PM | Permalink

The last surviving WWI veteran dies

Last surviving veteran of First World War dies aged 110

Florence Green, the world's last surviving First World War veteran has died, marking the end of an era in British history.

Mrs Green passed away in her sleep at a care home in Norfolk just two weeks before her 111th birthday.

The great-grandmother signed up to the Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) 93 years ago in September 1918, when she was aged just 17.

She was the last surviving person to have served in WWI following the death of British-born sailor Claude Choules in Australia last year.

During the First World War she worked at Narborough Airfield and RAF Marham, Norfolk, as an Officer's Mess steward.

 Florence Green 110

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:31 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2012

'If I die, remember this was his idea'

Shocking video captures final moments of US teenagers killed while 'car surfing' at 70mph

A court has seen a dramatic video revealing the final moments of two teenagers who died while 'car surfing' before the SUV overturned and burst into flames.

Carlos Velazco and Hunter Perez, both 18, were clinging to the side of their 19-year-old friend Joshua Ritter’s speeding car in DeBary, Florida.

Emotional relatives watched the mobile phone clip in a Deland court. The two friends died while Ritter survived the incident last February.

One teenager is heard saying on the video: ‘If I died, remember this is Carlos's idea.’ Another voice on the tape says: ‘This is insane.’

Moments before the car overturned one of the boys his heard screaming:
’Whoa, Stop.’ The footage then goes blank.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:04 AM | Permalink

February 3, 2012

Killed to save planet

Teen kills mom and sister to save planet and to make the world more environmentally friendly.  He's nuts of course.

A 15-year-old boy who killed his mother and sister because he believed there were too many people in the world was ordered to be detained indefinitely in a psychiatric hospital, a Hong Kong news report said on Thursday.

Kan Ka-leung used a cleaver to hack to death his mother and younger sister, later telling an ambulance officer that fewer people in the world would be more environmentally-friendly, the South China Morning Post reported.

Kan, now 16, pleaded not guilty to two charges of murder, but guilty to manslaughter claiming diminished responsibility, which the prosecution accepted.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:52 PM | Permalink

"The present recommendations may kill people instead of saving them"

Should the FDA regulate our salt consumption?  Do they have a solid scientific  basis on which to base any proposed regulation?

The Independent Women's Forum looks at the load of negative reaction to the FDA's proposed regulation,  Lower Salt, Lower Life Expectancy.

Perhaps the most persuasive (and frightening) comments come from two medical researchers at Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark.
In their letter to the FDA, Niels Graudal and Gesche Jürgens warn of the dire consequences of this government action (emphasis mine): 

[W]e would like to state that the `science’ on which the FDA policy on sodium reduction is based is dubious. This truth is already unmistakable now for most interested scientists and sooner or later it will be clear also to laymen. When this happens there will be responsible persons who would have a problem as the present recommendations may kill people instead of saving them. We therefore suggest that FDA, instead of considering how to reduce the sodium intake in the population, reconsiders the policy.

Graudal and Jürgens based their comments on their own widely-respected research (the findings of which were published in the American Journal of Hypertension) in which they analyzed 167 other studies on salt and found that low-sodium diets increase likelihood of premature death.


Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:27 PM | Permalink

Death by Hair Extensions

Killed by her hair extensions: Woman dies after allergic reaction 'to glue in hairdo' as expert says he has seen four similar deaths in three months

A woman died from a massive allergic reaction that could have been caused by the glue in her hair extensions, a pathologist said yesterday.

Atasha Graham, 34, who had used hair extensions for 14 years, collapsed after clubbing until the early hours.

Home Office pathologist Michael Heath told the inquest into her death that the latex glue used to apply her extensions – or the solvent for removing old ones – may have been to blame.

He added: ‘I’ve seen cases where people using solvent to apply extensions has actually caused anaphylactic shock.
‘There are about ten to 20 deaths a year in this country, many more in America. I have seen four in the last three months.’

He ruled out reactions to food and alcohol and said there were no drugs in her system.

On May 15 last year, Jamaican-born Miss Graham had been dancing at a club where her boyfriend, Fenton Johnson, was the DJ.
Mr Johnson said Miss Graham, one of nine children, was fine until she stepped through the doorway of their home in Lee, south-east London, at 6.30am, then suddenly collapsed and stopped breathing.

He called an ambulance and tried to resuscitate her as 999 operators gave him first aid instructions over the phone.  But she never properly regained consciousness and died later in hospital.

A post-mortem failed to find any abnormalities with her organs or substances which could have caused her death.
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After lengthy discussions with experts the pathologist said he was certain the cause of death was anaphylactic shock as the level of tryptase, which occurs naturally in the body during an allergic reaction, was 178 micrograms per litre of blood - up to 25 times higher than the normal amount of between two and 14 micrograms per litre.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:26 PM | Permalink

February 2, 2012

Tragic death of Caroline Lovell

Woman, 36, who campaigned for home births dies having baby daughter at home

A passionate advocate of home births has died after her own home labour.

 Carolinelovell

Campaigner Caroline Lovell, 36, went into cardiac arrest while giving birth to her second daughter, Zahra, at her home.

She was taken to hospital but died the next day. Her daughter survived.

The tragedy, in Melbourne on January 23, will re-ignite debate about the safety of home births.

Mrs Lovell had made arrangements for a private midwife to assist with the delivery, but unknown complications during the birth caused her heart to stop.

By the time paramedics arrived at her home, she was critically ill.

The photographer, who leaves behind her husband Nick, her first daughter Lulu, three, and newborn Zahra, had lobbied the Australian government for more state support for women who wanted home births.

How terribly.  I am so sorry for her family.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:08 PM | Permalink

"'I've been getting bad feelings though and well if you're reading this... " ......"

The heartbreaking collection of last letters to loved ones from soldiers who never came home

These are the final, moving letters written by soldiers to their families just before they died.

The brave servicemen penned the missives to be read by their loved ones if they were killed.

Dedicated historian Sian Price spent three years travelling the world and reading through 30,000 heart-rending letters to compile the touching collection.

The letters, spanning from the 17th century to the present day, reveal the timeless truths of war in the words of fallen heroes throughout the ages.

Miss Price searched through museums, libraries and military archives in the UK, Australia, Japan, Germany, France, the U.S., South Africa, Italy, Canada and New Zealand to find the most poignant writings.

Her book 'If You're Reading This...Last Letters From the Front Line' collates 70 letters from soldiers who never came home.
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PFC Jesse Givens, from Springfield, Missouri, drowned aged 34 inside a tank after a sand bank caved in on him in May 2003 in Iraq.

His farewell letter to his wife Melissa arrived three weeks after his death and just a few days after the birth of the son he would never meet.

On paper stained with muddy water, he wrote: 'I never thought I would be writing a letter like this, I really don't know where to start.  'I've been getting bad feelings though and well if you're reading this...

'I searched all my life for a dream and I found it in you. The happiest moments in my life all deal with my little family. You will never know how complete you made me.

'Bean, I never got to see you but I know in my heart you are beautiful. I will always have with me the feel of the soft nudges on you mom's belly, and the joy I felt when we found out you  were on the way.

'I dream of you every night, and I always will. Don't ever think that since I wasn't around that I didn't love you. You were conceived of love and I came to this terrible place for love.'

Historian Miss Price, 35, from Cardiff, wrote: 'They are the most amazing letters. There is something very beautiful about reading the intimate thoughts of these men who knew they could be about to die.


'The common theme that binds them all is love
. Almost all the letters from the whole 300 years express the writer’s love for someone, whether it is their wife, mother or children.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:57 PM | Permalink | TrackBack