August 20, 2013

"Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time"

For people who have lost a spouse, I recommend they read A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis.  First published in 1961, there is a new review of the book in the Guardian by Lettie Ransley

A Grief Observed by CS Lewis  CS Lewis's meditation on the death of his wife is a powerful record of raw emotion

At the time, CS Lewis described his marriage in 1956 to the American poet Helen ("H") Joy Davidman as "a pure matter of friendship and expediency", primarily intended to keep her and her two sons in the country; a confirmed bachelor, he later wrote: "I never expected to have, in my 60s, the happiness that passed me by in my 20s." But Joy was already ill, and their relationship was conducted in the shadow of cancer: for Lewis the four years following their wedding brought intensely personal experiences both of the miraculous, and of despair.
The ferocious and uncanting intellect that thrived in love denies Lewis the traditional consolations of mourning: he is tormented by the thought that suffering in life offers no guarantee of peace in death; that the mere act of remembering is one of overwriting – his own selective memories falling "like the small flakes that come when it is going to snow all night".

"Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time.
Almost pure time, empty successiveness," Lewis reflects.
By turns elegant and raw, A Grief Observed is a powerful record of thought and emotion experienced in real time, and as much the biography of a love as it is an exploration of grief and faith.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2013

Death takes no holiday

This summer we've read about the train in Spain carrying pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela and its horrific derailment;  79 were killed and 170 injured because the driver was distracted.  He was going too fast, talking on the phone and consulting documents all at the same time,  In western Switzerland, two commuter trains collided  in the village of Granges-près-Marnand, killing one and injuring thirty five people, five seriously, probably caused by the failure of one of the drivers to obey signals.   In Italy, a bus careened out of control, then plunged 100 feet down a steep ravine, killing 38 and injuring 16 who had been on a three-day weekend pilgrimage to the Padre Pio shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo.    For the families of the injured and killed, this could be the worst summer of their lives.

The tragedy of sudden death strikes more deeply when I read the stories of individuals and I can only imagine the grief of the families.

On honeymoon to the Western United States, a Thai couple, married earlier this month were on their honeymoon  when they were both struck by lightning and killed  at the LeFevre Overlook, about 30 miles north of the Grand Canyon National Park,

“The sky was blue … There was no indication that there was going to be a lightning strike,

Girl, 13, tragically dies from peanut butter allergy after eating Rice Krispie treat at summer camp

 Natalie Giorgio Dies Peanutbutter Natalie Giorgio
A 13-year-old California girl has died after she ate a Rice Krispie snack made with peanut butter at a summer camp and had an intense allergic reaction.  Natalie Giorgio, from Carmichael, California, was with her family at Camp Sacramento in El Dorado County when she ate the dessert on Friday night not realizing it contained nuts.

The girl immediately spat out the treat but it was too late. After 20 minutes, she began vomiting, had trouble breathing then suffered anaphylactic shock and cardiac arrest.  She was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher and father of two, 44, drowns in Arizona lake after jumping off pontoon boat

The body of former major league pitcher Frank Castillo has been recovered from a lake after he drowned while going for a swim.
Maricopa County sheriff's officials say divers pulled the 44-year-old out of Bartlett Lake yesterday afternoon.
Family members and friends say the father-of-two wasn't a good swimmer, but he jumped off a pontoon boat Sunday afternoon for a swim and didn't resurface.

'22 hour drive back to Texas on no sleep - oh my': Tragic last tweet of college football star before he was killed with stepbrother and friend in car crash 'caused by fatigue'

A Texas A&M football star, his stepbrother and an incoming member of the University of Utah football team have been killed as their SUV rolled over after they apparently drove on little sleep.
In a tragic twist, Manukainiu's last tweet read: '22 hour drive back to Texas on no sleep. Oh my.'

American tourist who insisted on taking to the stage with a band in Thailand is stabbed to death by the musicians

A 51-year-old American was stabbed to death with sharpened metal poles by a band after he refused to stop singing in a Thai bar.
Bobby Ray Carter Jr, from Dallas, Texas, had been on vacation in the popular Tourist region of Ao Nang in Krabi with his son, Adam, who was also stabbed in the attack.

Mr Carter, who has an 18-month-old daughter, had been enjoying a night out with his 27-year-old son in the Longhorn Saloon in the early hours of Wednesday, when a fight broke out.

Boy, 11, killed after being thrown from father's speedboat and struck by propeller

An 11-year-old boy was killed by his father in a tragic boating accident after he was thrown from a tube and struck by the propeller of the speedboat.  William Feehan was tossed into the water along with his older brother and a friend.

When his father Matthew circled back to pick up the boys, he collided with his own son who was hit by the boat's propeller.
The youngster was rushed to hospital but pronounced dead from his catastrophic injuries.  His 15-year-old brother and 13-year-old friend were uninjured…..Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Public Information Officer Keith Stephens said alcohol did not appear to be a factor.

Horrified mother watched as her eight-month-old girl was killed in freak accident as runaway bus knocked lamppost over which then fell and crushed stroller

An out-of-control bus struck a lamppost Tuesday in West New York, New Jersey, sending the pole crashing onto a baby stroller and killing the 8-month-old girl inside.  Emergency responders worked desperately to save Angela Paredes as her mother screamed desperately for help, but to no avail. The mother was uninjured.  Police say driver distraction likely contributed to the tragic crash.

The crazed driver in Venice, California, mowed down dozens of pedestrians and killed an Italian woman who was on her honeymoon

Alice Gruppioni, 32, the daughter of a prominent Italian businessman, was rushed to hospital after the 6pm crash Saturday night and died a few hours later of her injuries, with her new husband Christian Casadei by her side.

Giuseppe Perrone, the Italian consul general in Los Angeles, accompanied Casadei to the hospital and described him as
'destroyed and in disbelief'  and reported Casadei told him,

'We were walking, we were happy, we were on our honeymoon and everything, and suddenly everything changed,'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:56 PM | Permalink

He posted photos of the wife he killed on Facebook

When I first read about the man who shot his wife dead and then posted a picture on her dead body on Facebook, my first reaction was horror.  My first thought was this is a man who wanted to be famous.  And he has with a new low in social media.


Derek Medina, 31, posted a picture of Jennifer Alfonso's blood-stained body -- collapsed and contorted on the kitchen floor -- to his Facebook feed with a note, according to authorities.

"Im going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife love you guys miss you guys takecare Facebook people you will see me in the news," he purportedly wrote.

Medina, who lives in South Miami, drove to see his family, to tell them what he did. Then he turned himself in to police, according to his arrest affidavit.
Hours before the slaying, Medina posted a picture of his wife, his daughter and himself having dinner together outdoors at a marina.
They were all smiling.

 Medina Family

Then came more information about Medina.

Man who shot dead his wife then posted 'RIP' picture of her corpse on his Facebook page played a gun-toting gang member in TV series and has dreams of fame

A Florida man arrested in connection to his wife's murder after posting a graphic photo of her blood-splattered body on his Facebook page played a tattooed, violent gang member in a TV show and wants to be famous.
'My wife was punching me and I am not going to stand anymore with the abuse so I did what I did I hope u understand me.'

Medina supplemented the photo apparently showing his murdered spouse lying in the kitchen with blood covering her face and left arm with the comment: 'Rip Jennifer Alfonso.'
Medina's post and shocking photo of his murdered wife remained on Facebook for five hours before his profile was taken down just before 5pm Thursday.
Officers who were dispatched to the couple's home at 5555 SW 67th Avenue discovered Jennifer Alfonso' body.

A 10-year-old girl was led out of the residence wrapped in a red blanket. The child is believed to have been present during the shooting, but was not harmed.
Medina was a part time actor on the USA Network show Burn Notice.

The wannabe star boasted online about his tiny bit-part appearances and dreamed of fame that he never quite attained. He appeared only as a backgound extra with his head-shaved and pouting in two episodes in 2010.

However, that didn't stop his talking up his achievements.

Posting a video on You Tube, he narrated: 'Put on USA, I’m coming out on the episode right now. I’m on USA. I’m going to come out soon. This is the episode that I filmed. hat’s me right there! You saw me?'

 Medina Mugshotmugshot of Derek Medina

More details from the Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 AM | Permalink

August 8, 2013

Cowboy Tombstone

This is what Russell J, Larsen had inscribed on his headstone in Lorgan, Utah, according to Snopes.

 Real Cowboy Tombstone

Despite what you may have heard, the following is NOT inscribed on his tombstone though it's pretty funny.


1. It's important to have a woman who helps at home, cooks from time to time, cleans up, and has a job.

2. It's important to have a woman who can make you laugh.

3. It's important to have a woman who you can trust, and doesn't lie to you.

4. It's important to have a woman who likes to be with you.

5. It's very, very important that these four women do not know each other or you could end up dead like me.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 PM | Permalink

Mummy, there's a mummy in grandma's attic"

Mummy there's a mummy in grandma's attic! Boy discovers 'Egyptian body' inside an old wooden chest

A 10-year-old German boy has discovered what appears to be an Egyptian mummy in a wooden chest in his grandmother's attic.  Alexander Kettler found the 'mummy' inside a sarcophagus in a dark corner of the attic in Diepholz, northern Germany, after it had lain undisturbed for at least four decades.

The boy's father, Lutz Wolfgang Kettler, now intends to take the box, covered in hieroglyphics, to Berlin so that experts can ascertain whether it is genuine.

 Mummy In The Attic

As well as the 'mummy', the box also contained a death mask and a canopic jar used by ancient Egyptians to store removed organs.

Mr Ketller believes that the sarcophagus and jar are fake but says that there is every chance that the mummy itself is real.  He said: 'You just don't get the feeling that's something you could buy at a shop around the corner.'

Mr Kettler's father travelled to north Africa in the 1950s and had a mysterious chest shipped back to Germany.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:25 PM | Permalink

August 4, 2013

They were about to harvest her organs when she opened her eyes

Woman opened her eyes as doctors who thought she was brain dead began to take out her organs for donation

Doctors at St. Joseph's hospital in Central New York were in the process of starting surgery to harvest a dead woman's organs when that woman opened her eyes. She was still alive.

That massive mistake has now cost the hospital $6,000 after a federal inquiry in addition to another fine of $16,000 after another patient fell and injured her head when she was left unattended in 2011, according to reporting in the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Colleen S. Burns of North Syracuse, New York, 41, had been admitted to the hospital in October 2009 for a drug overdose.  Because of a series of mistakes in evaluation, doctors believed that the woman was dead and started the organ donation process.

The state Health Department investigation of the incident found that when Burns was first admitted, they skipped a recommended treatment that would prevent the drugs she had taken - Xanax, Benadryl and a muscle relaxant - from being absorbed by her stomach and intestines.  They also didn't do enough testing to see if she was free of drugs or perform enough brain scans. Because they didn't perform enough of these scans, doctors believed that Burns was brain dead, when in reality the over dose had put her in a coma.

After doctors said she was essentially brain dead, her family agreed to take her off life support and her organs donated.  But the day before the organs were to be removed, a nurse performed a reflex test and found that Burns was still reacting.  She scraped her finger on the bottom of one of Burns' feet and her toes curled downward, a sign that she was still alive.

And that wasn't the only sign of life. As she was being wheeled to the operating room, Burns' nostrils flared and it seemed she was breathing independently from the respirator. Her lips and tongue were moving as well.  But doctors ignored the nurse's observations which indicated Burns was still alive, and proceeded with the surgery anyway

Before the procedure, Burns was given an injection of the sedative Ativan, but neither the sedative or the observations of life were recorded in the doctor's notes for the procedure.  Dr. David Mayer, a general vascular surgeon and associate professor of clinical surgery an New York Medical College, said the application of a sedative is quite strange.

'It would sedate her to the point that she could be non-reactive,' Mayer told the Post-Standard. 'If you have to sedate them or give them pain medication, they're not brain dead and you shouldn't be harvesting their organs.'

It wasn't until Burns opened her eyes in the OR that the procedure was called off.

Neither Burns or her family sued the hospital for malpractice. Sixteen months later, a determined Burns successfully committed suicide. Her mother, Lucille Kuss said her daughter wasn't upset about the incident.  'She was so depressed that it really didn't make any difference to her,' Kuss said.

The hospital didn't even report the incident, nor conduct an investigation of their own.  It wasn't until after the Post-Standard started their investigation that the hospital put out any sort of explanation for what happened.  According to the federal report: 'The hospital did not undertake an intensive and critical review of the near catastrophic event in this case.'

Bleeding Heart Cadavers

"This kid is dead, you got that?"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:32 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2013

Teamsters disrupting funerals

Teamsters Ordered to Stop Picketing Funeral Homes

A judge ordered one of Chicago’s most politically powerful labor unions to suspend picketing against 16 funeral homes last week after receiving reports that striking Teamsters had, among other things, disturbed a child’s funeral.

SCI Illinois Services, Inc., one of the nation’s largest funeral home chains, asked a district court to intervene after striking funeral directors and drivers with Teamsters Local 727 allegedly harassed grieving families.
The company testified in its filing that union members blocked grieving family members from leaving its parking lot, used bullhorns to shout obscenities at workers and mourners, and unleashed a German Shepard on a dead woman’s daughter and husband.

The funeral home was eventually forced to call the police when picketers allegedly disrupted a child’s funeral with laughter. The officer asked the Teamsters to leave, but protesters returned when he drove away.

What appalling behavior.  How are they any different from Westboro Baptist Church that disrupts funerals to decry homosexuality?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:00 PM | Permalink

Tweeting the death of his mother

Goodbyes and Grief in Real Time

Scott Simon’s first Twitter message about his mother, dated July 16, squeezed a universal story involving heartbreak and humor into 21 words. He wrote: “Mother called: ‘I can’t talk. I’m surrounded by handsome men.’ Emergency surgery. If you can hold a thought for her now … ”

The ellipsis hinted that he’d have more to say later, and he did. “We never stop learning from our mothers, do we?” he asked on July 25. By then his mother, Patricia Lyons Simon Newman, 84, had spent several nights in the intensive care unit of a Chicago-area hospital. And Twitter users around the world were getting to know her, thanks to the short bursts of commentary by Mr. Simon, the host of “Weekend Edition Saturday” on NPR.

 Scott Simon Tweeting Grief

The tweets captured the attention of a significant portion of the social-media world for days.

Mr. Simon wrote on Monday morning that “her passing might come any moment,” and that evening it did, when she died after being treated for cancer. Borrowing from “Romeo and Juliet,” he wrote, “She will make the face of heaven shine so fine that all the world will be in love with night,” and then stopped tweeting for half a day.

“When I began to tweet, I had almost no thought that this was going to be my mother’s deathbed,” Mr. Simon said in a telephone interview on Wednesday, after the outpouring of emotion — his Twitter audience’s as well as his own — had made national headlines. His mother, he said, had originally gone into the hospital for a blood test.

“As it got more serious, she was just so marvelously entertaining and insightful,” he said. “I found it irresistible.”
Mr. Simon said he wanted people to know that “I wasn’t holding my mother in my arms and tweeting with my free hand.”

He added: “As you may know, an incurable illness like this is a lot like war. There are moments of panic and anxiety, separated by hours of tedium.”
Sometimes Ms. Newman gave Mr. Simon, and by extension some of his 1.2 million Twitter followers, a reason to smile or chuckle: “Believe me,” she told him on Saturday, “those great deathbed speeches are written ahead of time.” Sometimes, she seemed to want Mr. Simon to share bits of advice. On Sunday, he encapsulated this thought from his mother: “Listen to people in their 80s. They have looked across the street at death for a decade.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:15 AM | Permalink