Put another way, this man and the NPR host who interviewed him were both certain that Americans, when given the choice, would cheerfully throw Grandma from the train in order to save some money. Europeans, the Dutchman explained, with their cradle to grave care, would never be pressured into killing themselves. The beneficent state would pay all the medical bills, so money would not be an issue when it came to life and death decisions. The only thing that would matter in Europe, said this Dutchman, was the terminally ill person’s wishes.
History has revealed that this Dutchman was absolutely and completely wrong. In America, people have willingly bankrupted themselves to save beloved family members. Mammon becomes meaningless when an extra treatment might give your child or a young mother a few more days, weeks, or years of life. People have hearts and souls. They connect to others, especially to those in their families.
It’s very different in socialist states, where euthanasia is the name of the game, often without the patient’s, or her family’s, agreement. In England, thousands of terminally ill people were hastened to their deaths by the Liverpool Care Pathway. It was meant to be a national hospice program that provided palliative care to the terminally ill in their final days. What ended up happening, of course, when the National Health Service started running out of money is that thousands (even tens of thousands) of elderly patients who were terminally ill, but weren’t anywhere near death’s door, were hastened to their deaths. They had become too expensive or just too difficult to manage.
It turns out that, twenty-odd years ago, when I heard that Dutchman speak, he had failed to consider two pertinent facts: First, socialist states invariably run out of money once they finally destroy their productive class; and second, the state has neither heart nor soul. To you, Patient X is your beloved mother, or brother, or child. To the state, Patient X is an unnecessary cost to an already strained system.
Bookworm has it exactly right. Take a look at these recent stories.
Pathway involves the sick being sedated and usually denied nutrition and fluids
Families kept in the dark when doctors withdraw lifesaving treatment
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said pathway was a 'fantastic step forward'
Anti-euthanasia group said: ‘The Pathway is designed to finish people off double quick'
NHS millions for controversial care pathway The majority of NHS hospitals in England are being given financial rewards for placing terminally-ill patients on a controversial “pathway” to death.
The Liverpool Care Pathway, which was supposed to be restricted to sedating patients whose pain could not otherwise be controlled, has mutated into a form of euthanasia. Not only are UK hospitals paid to to put patients “on the Pathway,” but it has become increasingly clear that it is being misused as a form of euthanasia.
This means that at least some patients who can still eat and drink, are put into comas and deprived of sustenance. That is appropriate when a patient can no longer assimilate food or water at the very end of life. But making it so they can’t eat or drink water by mouth and then depriving them of the sustenance needed to keep them alive, is killing. And it hasn’t been restricted to the imminently dying. I don’t know what else to call it but backdoor euthanasia.
All the creepy stories of the week
A 55-year-old man from a small town in Vietnam was not arrested after he told an online newspaper that he’d dug up his dead wife’s body and slept in bed with it for five years—but his house definitely received a lot less visitors. When Le Van’s wife died in 2003, he slept on top of her grave. Twenty months later, the elements were really starting to get to him, so he dug a tunnel into the grave “to sleep with her.” That arrangement proved unsustainable as well, at least once his children found out and prevented him from going to the burial site. The only thing left to do was dig up his wife’s body and bring it home, so Van could hug her in bed. Vietnam.net reported the story five years later with a photograph of Van and his dead wife, still at his house.
A heartbroken dog whose owner died two months ago is missing her so much he is attending services at the Italian church where her funeral was held patiently waiting for her to return.
Loyal Tommy, a seven-year-old German Shepherd, belonged to Maria Margherita Lochi, 57, and had been her faithful companion after she adopted him when she found him abandoned in fields close to her home.
Mrs Lochi adopted several strays she found but friends said she developed a particular close affection for Tommy and would walk to church with him from her home every day - where the priest would allow him to sit patiently by her feet.
Following her death at San Donaci near Brindisi, a funeral service was held at which Tommy joined mourners and since then he has been a regular at the church arriving on time when the bells ring out to mark the start of services.
Father Donato Panna said:''He's there every time I celebrate Mass and is very well behaved - he doesn't make a sound, I've not heard one bark from him in all the time he has been coming in.
'He used to come to Mass with Maria and he was obviously devoted to her - I let him stay inside as he was always so well behaved and none of the other parishoners ever complained to me.
'He's still coming to Mass even after Maria's funeral, he waits patiently by the side of the altar and just sits there quietly. I didn't have the heart to throw him out - I've just recently lost my own dog so I leave him there until Mass finishes and then I let him out.
A killer who strangled two fellow prisoners in order to ensure his execution used his final moments while strapped in an electric chair to tell witnesses to ‘kiss my a**’ moments before he died at 9.08pm on Wednesday.
Robert Gleason Jr. uttered the vulgar phrase in Irish Gaelic, according to Larry Traylor, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Corrections, while adding 'Put me on the highway going to Jackson and call my Irish buddies. … God bless,' before a leather strap was tightened over his face. The 42-year-old was first strapped to the wooded electric chair at his chest, arms and ankles, while seen occasionally smiling, winking and nodding at his spiritual adviser who sat in the witness area, the Richmond Times Dispatch reports.
He was the first executed in the U.S. this year and the first to choose to die by electrocution since 2010.
He told The Associated Press he deserved to die for what he did. 'Why prolong it? The end result's gonna be the same,' Gleason said from death row in his thick Boston accent in one of numerous interviews he's given to The Associated Press over three years.
'The death part don't bother me. This has been a long time coming. It's called karma.'
Gleason claimed he's killed others – perhaps dozens more – but he has refused to provide details. He claims he's different from the other men on Virginia's death row for one important reason: he only kills criminals.
I can only wonder how his "spiritual advisor" counseled him.
Memorial to James Lenox Dutton, died 1776
A woman after my own heart. After her husband died in a bike accident and while still in shock, Chanel Reynolds was consumed by thoughts of all the financial tasks grown-ups were supposed to have done by middle age. She and her husband had not finished them.
In the many months of suffering after Mr. Hernando’s death in July 2009, she beat herself up while spending dozens of hours excavating their financial life and slowly reassembling it. But then, she resolved to keep anyone she knew from ever again being in the same situation.
The result is a Web site named for the scolding, profane exhortation that her inner voice shouted during those dark days in the intensive care unit. She might have called it Getyouracttogether.org, but she changed just one word.
First, the world of personal finance suffers from an odd sort of organizational failure. We tend to organize our thinking around products: retirement accounts, mortgages, long-term care insurance.
But in the real world, it’s a big life event that often governs our hunt for solutions. Sometimes, it’s a happy one, like getting married. But there are few ready-made tool kits like the one Ms. Reynolds has assembled for people considering the possibility of serious illness or death.
After his death, this much was clear: The family with the six-figure income and the four-bedroom house that they had bought in the Mount Baker neighborhood one year before had a will with no signature, little emergency savings and an unknown number of accounts with passwords that had been in Mr. Hernando’s head.
According to a survey that the legal services site Rocket Lawyer conducted in 2011, 57 percent of adults in the United States do not have a will. Of those 45 to 64 years of age, a shocking 44 percent still have not gotten it down.
People who get a fatal diagnosis from a doctor at least have a bit of time to sort things out. But Ms. Reynolds and her husband had made only a few plans.
There are a few things about Ms. Reynolds’s site that seem unique to me, though. The first is her raw insistence on considering what it means if you’re having trouble finding the right people to serve as your estate’s executor or to inherit prized possessions.
“If you are at a loss for whom to name, get out there and tighten up your friends and family relationships,” she writes on the site. “Find some better friends. Be a better friend. This is everything. This means everything.”
On her website is a maxim everyone should realize is true: Life and Death Planning: Low effort, high reward.
Eastern Orthodox Christianity has a different approach to the reality of our departure from life. Death is regarded as an integral part of life, as birth or growing old is. Of course death is still viewed as an unnatural state of mankind, a consequence of the great fall, but, nevertheless an unavoidable and necessary passage. Nobody runs away from it but embraces it, when time comes, with the great expectation of the encounter with Christ.
Fr. Gherorghe Calciu Dumitreasa, of blessed memory, was telling that in his old village, when someone would fall on the death bed, all the people, including the children, would go forth and ask for forgiveness from the one who was about to pass. After this forgiveness ritual the dying person would then confess his/her sins for the last time and receive Communion to prepare as much as possible for the inevitable encounter with Christ.
After passing, the body would be washed by members of the family, dressed in an outfit prepared in advance and would be deposed in a simple open coffin inside the house. The priest would come and read the eleven Resurrectional Gospels and the family and friends would keep vigil, reading from the Psalter.
On the day of the funeral the priest would bring the body in procession into the Church where the funeral service would take place. The deceased would lay there, resting in an open casket, in the midst of the community he/she belonged to. In the Orthodox Church the deceased are never considered as leaving the communion with the Church. Death is merely a passing from the Militant Church on Earth unto the Triumphant Church in Heaven. The departed are just temporarily missing physically from among us, but awaiting there, just us we do, the great reunion of Christ’s family in the Kingdom to come.
St. Basil the Great teaches therefore that the greatest philosophy is the continuous thought of death. Not in a fatalistic way, but in the spirit of a heightened awareness of our everyday actions and their impact of our state after leaving this life. Instead of being preoccupied on how to hide or make death more bearable by artificial means, we should embrace it and transform it in an element of change in our lives towards a more responsible existence
Two centuries after handkerchiefs were dipped in the blood of the beheaded French king Louis XVI, scientists believe they have proved one such rag kept as a revolutionary souvenir contains his bloodstains.
For years researchers have been trying to verify the claim that an ornately decorated calabash contained a blood sample of the king, who was guillotined in Paris on January 21, 1793.
On that day Parisian Maximilien Bourdaloue joined the crowds as dipped a handkerchief into the blood left at the scene of the decapitation.
He is then believed to have placed the fabric in the gourd, which has been in the hands of an Italian family for more than a century, and had it embellished.
Two years ago, analysis of DNA taken from traces of blood found inside the gourd revealed a likely match for someone of Louis' description, including his blue eyes.
But it was never able to be proved beyond doubt as at the time the team did not have DNA of any royal relation.
But a team of experts from France and Spain, which has published its findings in the journal Forensic Science International, have conducted further research using genetic material from another gruesome artefact - a mummified head believed to belong to Louis' 16th century predecessor, Henri IV.
Their research has uncovered a rare genetic signature shared by two men separated by seven generations, and managed to provide evidence for the authenticity of both sets of remains in the process.
They used to spend their days collecting protection money, kneecapping those who would not pay up and planting explosives in the cars of their rivals.
But now the only reminders of the gangsters that made up the Russian mobs in the 1990s are their tombstones with gaudy sketches of them etched into the granite.
The men, who are casualties of the Russian business world and were relatively young when they were killed, are sculpted standing in designer suits and leather jackets.
The Thinking Housewife On De-commercializing Death
Some years ago, I read several books on death, dying, and funerals, including Lisa Carlson’s excellent “Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love.” I used this book as a jumping-off point for a Sunday School class on “A Christian View of Death, Dying, and Funeral Preparation.”
After covering the history of funeral practices in America (including many of the interesting ones familiar to those from the Appalachian South), I drew attention to the moneymaking nature of modern embalming & preparation practices. I also spent one entire class session in describing and showing in gruesome detail just exactly what goes on in a typical embalming & preparation. We discussed federal, state, and local laws governing funeral issues, and I (hopefully) demonstrated that the family has much more authority and latitude in these decisions than most people think. Most of the class members were surprised to learn that many states (including my own) allow for burial on one’s own property as long as the burial meets certain reasonable requirements. We discussed coffin construction, body preparation, washing, and dressing, and family traditions in funeral rites. Most of the class members found the subject matter interesting and encouraging.
What I found interesting as a teacher was the number of folks who, at the end of the semester, told me that the class hadn’t changed their intentions to allow the funeral industry to take charge of their family funeral arrangements. It reminded me of how Americans can read extensively and talk with enthusiasm about healthy food, the Christian agrarian model, and the evils of industrialization … and yet remain enslaved to pizza and microwaves and Jenny Craig. It’s just easier to let Big Brother take care of the tedious details.
A Massachusetts municipal worker says he is going to sue his former employer because the city fired him after he requested time off to comfort his terminally-ill wife during her final days.
Thomas Sapeniza of Lawrence, Massachusetts, a Boston suburb, was reportedly initially granted unpaid leave to care for his spouse of eight years, Heather, who was stricken with brain cancer.
However, by the time of Heather's death on Jan. 3 at the age of 40, Sapienza had already been sacked from his post with the city's Department of Public Works, for whom he toiled as a laborer.
'Heather couldn't even have the peace during the last 30 days of her life knowing that her husband could have a job to go back to,' Michael Sweeney, an ex-elected official in Lawrence told WHDH.com.
Making matters worese, Lawrence officials apparently filled Sapienza's one-time position through political patronage.
Now responsible for widower's former duties is a one-time Massachusetts state official who reportedly not only has no experience as a laborer, but is currently incarcerated.
But Sapienza, now mired in debt, is fighting back by reportedly preparing a soon-to-be-filed reverse racial discrimination lawsuit with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.
'We firmly believe that if Tom Sapienza was Hispanic and not white that he will have a job to come back to with the city of Lawrence,' Shimer-Brenes reportedly said.
The Massachusetts station phoned the DPW, as well as City of Lawrence officials, but received no return calls.
Sapienza reportedly used up his vacation and sick time in caring for Heather and then requested unpaid sick time to be with his wife during her final days.
The one-time municipal laborer reportedly did not qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act because he had not worked the requisite number of hours.
Only in Massachusetts. Lawrence is not a suburb but a decaying, corrupt, crime-ridden city north of Boston.
In The Cube and the Cathedral, George Weigel noted that respect for the dead was diminishing in secular Europe. For example, during the heat wave of 2003, which caused many members of the elderly to collapse and die, the French couldn't be bothered to bury them, he wrote.
"Why did so many of the French prefer to continue their summer vacations during the European heat wave of 2003, leaving their parents unburied and warehoused in refrigerated lockers (which were soon overflowing)?" In Germany, Weigel continued, death is "increasingly anonymous, with no death notice in the newspapers, no church funeral ceremony, no secular memorial service."
In a materialist society, indifferent to the past, fixated on the present, and unsure of any future, reminders of mortality are seen as an annoyance. How the dead are treated is perhaps becoming a new measure of a society's irreligion, and by that standard, America is evidently catching up with secular Europe. According to The Washington Post, many drivers around the nation's capital no longer even stop for funeral processions. "People do not give respect to the funeral as they did years back," said one funeral driver to the paper. "[Everyone] seems in a hurry to get nowhere."
Archer Harmon, a funeral driver, recalled to the paper that when he started his career a quarter century ago people would pull to the side of the road. Now people honk at him and dart into his processions: "We have cellphones in one hand, Starbucks in the other and what is in front of you doesn't matter at this point. They just don't care, in this society we live in now."
I got an advertisement in the mail the other day for a fancy marble mausoleum being built in Jersey.
“You’ve worked hard your whole life,” it read. “Now, don’t you want to reward yourself with the very best?”
It's appalling what's happening in Britain and with the National Health Service. 'Normalization of cruelty' indeed.
Alexandra Hospital in Redditch is writing to 38 families after a massive legal action that exposed years of bad practice, ranging from nurses taunting patients to leaving an elderly woman unwashed for 11 weeks.
In one of the worst cases, a man had starvation recorded as the cause of his death after being treated at the hospital for two months.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said last night that he was “disgusted and appalled” by what the families had been through, and that the Government was acting to ensure that failings in care were detected more quickly.
Bereaved relatives had told how vulnerable patients were left to starve when trays were placed out of their reach, while others were left in soaking bedsheets.
Many of the families are to receive compensation for cases that their lawyer described as “appalling”.
The move will serve to intensify debate on why some nurses and doctors are treating patients without compassion, and will add weight to the warning by Mr Hunt that patients can experience “coldness, resentment, indifference” and “even contempt” in NHS hospitals.
He warned that in the worst institutions, a “normalisation of cruelty” had been fostered.
A macabre new gambling trend is starting to gather pace in Taiwan where bets are being placed on the life expectancy of sick patients.
\Worth more than £20million ($30m) the death gambling market in the town of Taichun is allowing people to wager a bet on when the old, the cancer-ridden and terminally-ill will die. The craze is not just restricted to ghoulish gamblers - bets have also been placed by doctors, nurses and other hospital staff as well as families and guardians.
According to local media some 60 so-called 'senior citizens clubs' are in place posing as charitable organisations for the elderly.
Some pots are reported to have run to more than £1million. The Times reported that some families agree to take part to pay for funeral costs.
Police are said to be investigating the practice and the legal implications. In some cases families are thought to have been offered special bonuses by organisers if they instruct doctors to withhold life-prolonging treatments.
Two high school students desperately begged for help after their bicycles fell through a frozen-over New Jersey lake, with one screaming 'I don't want to die,' in his final moments.
Clyde Schimanski III, 15, and Nick Cianciotto, 14, have been pictured for the first time after they collapsed into the icy waters of Budd Lake on Monday night during a wintry bicycle ride.
According to witnesses, the boys' chilling screams brought help to the lake on Monday night, but rescuers couldn't find the pair in the darkness.
'Please help me!' one of the teens screamed. 'I don't want to die!'
Bartender Christine Stanat told the Hackettstown Patch that she heard one of them yelling, ‘Help, help, don’t let me die!’
William Hardy, 25, and his roommate also heard the screams. They had been smoking outside of their house, which is on the banks of the lake. Hardy told the Star-Ledger that he called the police, grabbed a flashlight, and then ran out onto the ice to see how he could help. The New Jersey resident went around 700ft out onto the ice before he heard it began cracking beneath his weight. Hardy said he saw a blue light that could have come from a cell phone.
'It hurts my heart. Until they pull him out, I'll…hold tight. I want to know they find him.' Father Clyde Schimanski about missing son, Clyde III
He, too, heard the teenagers saying they don’t want to die. Assuring them that help was on the way, Hardy watched as the blue light vanished and the voices fell silent.
An official confirmed that the two were a great distance from shore. A later report from MyFoxNY said that one of the boys, Clyde, had ridden his bicycle out to rescue the first boy who fell in.
His father, Clyde Schimanski, Jr. told the station that his son saw another person fall through the ice into the water below and tried to rescue him.
A historic church and graveyard which features in Bram Stoker's Gothic novel Dracula is faced with a horror story of its own.
Human bones uncovered after a landslide last month have been washed down the cliff St Mary's Church stands on in Whitby after heavy rainfall.
The human remains are then being collected at the bottom of the cliff face and re-buried.
St Mary's Reverend Canon David Smith said: 'The cemetery has been a closed for more than a century so if any graves are exposed it's only bones.
Meanwhile residents and business owners are terrified the cliff will be hit with more rainfall.
The landslide has been blamed on a drainage pipe which broke when the cliff began to crumble. Heavy rainfall saturated the soil and lead to the mudslide.
The landslide comes after five houses in Aelfelda Terrace, Whitby, were demolished last month after flooding washed the steep bank beneath them away.
As he got into the giant ball, an unnamed friend - who filmed the horror - is heard saying: 'Denis, you'll be like Jackie Chan in the Armour of God movie!'
The friend filming the death ride plunge asks: 'What's going on there?'
The voice replies: 'Nothing.' But then calmly adds: 'A catastrophe.' At this the footage stops.
At terrifying speed, the ball had plunged down Ganachhirskiy Gorge in the Dombai resort complex in Russia's North Caucasus mountain range. Falling steeply and battered by rocks, it was pulled down relentlessly by gravity.
I asked a handful of my favorite writers to pick a life lost this year that inspired them in a similar way.
RAY BRADBURY, B. 1920 The Untortured Artist
" “You remain invested in your inner child by exploding every day. You don’t worry about the future, you don’t worry about the past — you just explode.”
SUSAN JEFFERS, B. 1938 The Apprehensive Optimist
“We live in a society that teaches us to grasp for control, total control, of everything,” she writes in “Embracing Uncertainty.” But perhaps the grasping only makes things worse.