January 31, 2014

"The power to heal psychic wounds is rare and precious"

Rea Ginsberg writes about the mournful reputation of grief counselors

We are often asked, “How can you do that?”  How can you stand to do that work?  Such a dreary subject.  Grim but supposedly necessary.  Don’t you get depressed with all the talk of dying?  Facing death and its consequences every day must be the prime route to burnout.  Are mental disorders prevalent among grief counselors?  Aren’t you afraid all the talk of dying will make you a little crazy?  Don’t you find it frightening, talking about death and dying all the time?  Don’t you want some joy in your life?  Do something else, anything that doesn’t relate to death.
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Pain is inevitable in every human life.  Like it or not, wish against it or not, there it is.  Pain waits patiently and outlasts our resistance.  It is a fundamental fact of life.  Death is also a fact of life, a fact until further notice.  Significant loss occurs in every life.  Death occurs to every life.  Death hurts.  It causes grief.  There is yet no pill to make it go away.  Maybe there should not be such a pill.  Enter: the supportive grief counselor.
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Survivors need interpersonal help and healing.  Usually, friends and family do the job.  The path is painful and also lonely at times.  Sometimes, a professional counselor is just the right remedy.  He is prepared to be a companion for a time, along the way to reconstructed balance and equilibrium.  Along the way to adjustment.  He is equipped to hear the hurt and lighten the load.  In a hurry-up, get-over-it society, the grief counselor is a safe harbor in the mourning storm.  His focus is not time.  It is not a predetermined schedule.  It is not a deadline for completion.  His focus is connection, understanding, and support.  It is helping the survivor to feel comforted because someone who knows grief is actively listening.  The center of his attention is less advice and more the not-so-simple act of being with the survivor, to facilitate self-rediscovery and restore dignity.
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The power to heal psychic wounds is rare and precious. Few people have this skill.    It is needed.  It is a service.  It becomes a moral obligation for those who have that power.  To have it is to take pleasure in exercising it.  To have it and withhold it is unethical.  It is contrary to conscience.  It defies accepted standards of professional behavior.  It is also unhealthy because there is nothing more important in life than human connection.  To assist the progress of connection provides further integrity and growth to the facilitator.  The grief counselor is rewarded in greater wholeness, in life lessons studied, learned, and integrated.  Death is not an enemy.  It is a creative disrupter.  It is one of our most profound and valuable teachers.  It is life-affirming.  It is our gateway to meaningful and vigorous life
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:22 PM | Permalink

Remarkable stories of near death experiences

There are a lot more stories in the Mail's serialized excerpts from Penny Sarton's new book on Near Death Experiences.

The  opening excerpt reveals dramatic evidence Penny Satori says should banish our fear of dying

I began my eight-year study as a cynic. But by the time it  ended, I was convinced that near-death experiences are a genuine phenomenon.

So what exactly is a near-death experience? At its simplest, it’s a clear and memorable vision that occurs when people are close to death — though only a small percentage of us will have one.

Children who have near-death experiences go on to live charmed lives

The evidence, however, suggests that children as young as six months can have lucid visions — and even remember them years later.

Of course, no one can see into the mind of a baby. But consider a case documented in the medical journal Critical Care Medicine. The researchers writing in the journal had kept in touch with the parents of a six-month-old boy who’d nearly died in hospital during a serious illness.

Three years later, that same child was told by his parents that his grandmother was dying. He had just one question: was she going through the tunnel to meet God?
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The most common component children report is a sense of overwhelming happiness…Usually, children who experience NDEs report being given the option of returning to life and deciding to take it. The reason is often that the child doesn’t want to upset its parents.

Stories of those who have foreseen the death of relatives including the rare 'shared death' experience, deathbed visions

Older generations, who had far more experience of seeing loved ones die at home, often knew all about death-bed visions and what they signified. Indeed, they have been documented since Victorian times.
More recently, in the 1970s, death-bed visions were the subject of a large survey conducted in both the U.S. and India. This concluded that patients usually died within two to five days of the start of a vision.

The response to the excerpts has been unprecedented.  Many readers sent in their own remarkable stories.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:16 PM | Permalink

January 30, 2014

Devoted Dad Proves His Love

Dying dad, 44, writes 800 notes so that his daughter will get one in her lunchbox every day until she finishes high school

A father who has been diagnosed with cancer has vowed to write 800 notes for his daughter so that she has one in her lunch box every day until she leaves high school.

 Napkin Note

Garth Callaghan, 44, from Glen Allen, Virginia, has been writing short messages on napkins for his daughter Emma, 14, since she was in kindergarten - and now she looks forward to them every day.

So after Mr Callaghan was diagnosed with cancer three times in the past two years - kidney cancer twice and prostate cancer once - he realized that, if he lost his battle with the disease, he never wanted her to go without.

Now he is on a mission to write 800 of the notes - which are each compiled on simple white napkins and popped in her lunch bag - in case he doesn't reach her graduation.

 Garth With Emma
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:39 PM | Permalink

'She is part of me, so here I am whole,'

Man who spent over 20 years holding vigil by his wife's grave EVERY day dies aged 97

When Rocky Abalsamo's wife died in 1993, part of him died too.  Out of sadness and longing, he would hold vigil by her grave site at St. Joseph Cemetery in West Roxbury all day, every day, rarely eating or drinking and weathering all temperatures and conditions.

Now, over 20 years after his beautiful Julia 'Julita' passed away, Rocky 'Roque' continues to sit next to his beloved, after being buried in the plot next to her.  Rocky died on Janaury 22 at Stonehedge Health Care Center in West Roxbury after several months of declining health, reports The Boston Globe.  He was 97.

 Rocky Abalsamo-Devoted-Griever
'She was pure love,' he said.  'Her beauty was a gift apart, a reward.'

They shared a first kiss on September 16, 1937 - a date Rocky - celebrated annually - and married the following April.  They had a daughter, Angela, and a son, Roque Jr.

Rocky and Julita had been married for 55 years when she died of complications after heart surgery in 1993 . Distraught, he began spending his days at St. Joseph Cemetery.
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'She is part of me, so here I am whole,' he said previously.
'Being here makes me feel better. Not good, but better. I do it for Julita, and for myself.'

Each morning he would greet Julia - 'I am here!' - unfold his blue chair and unpack the belongings he would bring with him, such as photos and other tokens.

He rarely ate or drank, mostly out of respect but also so he does not need a bathroom, and would toast Julita with sparkling cider on special occasions, such as her birthday on December 20.

At night he would pray and sprinkle crumbs on the grave so that chipmunks would keep her company after he leaves.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:33 PM | Permalink

Death by cannabis

Devout British mother-of-three, 31, dies from cannabis poisoning after smoking a joint in bed

A mother-of-three is believed to have become the first woman in Britain to die directly from cannabis poisoning.

Gemma Moss, a 31-year-old churchgoer, of Boscombe, in Bournemouth, Dorset, collapsed in bed after smoking a cannabis cigarette that led her to have moderate to high levels of the class B drug in her system.

Tests of her vital organs found nothing wrong with them although it was suggested she might have suffered a cardiac arrest triggered by cannabis toxicity.

Miss Moss' death was registered as cannabis toxicity and a coroner has recorded a verdict of death by cannabis abuse.
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David Raynes, of the National Drug Prevention Alliance, said: 'It is extremely rare and unusual for a coroner to rule death from cannabis abuse.

'In 40 years I have never come across deaths from cannabis alone. There have been cases where it has been combined with other drugs or alcohol.

'It has often been said that cannabis doesn’t cause death. Users usually pass out before they can take enough cannabis to kill them.

'This case serves as a warning that cannabis can cause immense harm.Cannabis is know to increase heart rate and blood pressure. Cannabis these days is designed to be much stronger than cannabis used in the sixties to meet demand of users who want a stronger hit.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:01 PM | Permalink

Remarkable stories of near death experiences

There are a lot more stories in the Mail's serialized excerpts from Penny Sarton's new book on Near Death Experiences.

The  opening excerpt reveals dramatic evidence Penny Satori says should banish our fear of dying

I began my eight-year study as a cynic. But by the time it  ended, I was convinced that near-death experiences are a genuine phenomenon.

So what exactly is a near-death experience? At its simplest, it’s a clear and memorable vision that occurs when people are close to death — though only a small percentage of us will have one.

Children who have near-death experiences go on to live charmed lives

The evidence, however, suggests that children as young as six months can have lucid visions — and even remember them years later.

Of course, no one can see into the mind of a baby. But consider a case documented in the medical journal Critical Care Medicine. The researchers writing in the journal had kept in touch with the parents of a six-month-old boy who’d nearly died in hospital during a serious illness.

Three years later, that same child was told by his parents that his grandmother was dying. He had just one question: was she going through the tunnel to meet God?
---
The most common component children report is a sense of overwhelming happiness…Usually, children who experience NDEs report being given the option of returning to life and deciding to take it. The reason is often that the child doesn’t want to upset its parents.

Stories of those who have foreseen the death of relatives including the rare 'shared death' experience, deathbed visions

Older generations, who had far more experience of seeing loved ones die at home, often knew all about death-bed visions and what they signified. Indeed, they have been documented since Victorian times.
More recently, in the 1970s, death-bed visions were the subject of a large survey conducted in both the U.S. and India. This concluded that patients usually died within two to five days of the start of a vision.

The response to the excerpts has been unprecedented.  Many readers sent in their own remarkable stories.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:15 PM | Permalink

Nancy Wake, dead at 95, left a Great Legacy

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

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

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

 Nancy Wake

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

Passionate and impulsive, with a tendency to draw attention to herself, she was not the ideal undercover agent. Her superiors didn’t think she would last long behind enemy lines.

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

Much of Wake’s extraordinary life was lived under assumed identities. She carried papers as Nancy Fiocca (her married name) and Lucienne Cartier. Her official SOE identity was Andree, though a gay friend in the  service called her ‘Gertie’. On one operation she was tagged ‘Witch’. But the best-known name was the one the Gestapo gave her when they put her on their ‘most wanted’ list, with a five million franc price on her head — that of ‘the White Mouse’, because she always managed to wriggle out of their traps.

Nancy Wake was born in New Zealand and brought up in Australia, a difficult child who took the first opportunity to leave the Antipodes for Europe. There, she partied between assignments as a journalist, before marrying a rich businessman from Marseille who could indulge her taste for champagne, caviar and the good life.

Nancy was visiting London, for, of all things, a slimming course, when war was declared in September 1939. When she tried to join up to fight she was pointed, to her disgust, in the direction of a Naafi (Navy, Army and Air Force) canteen. So she went back to France and, when that country fell to the invading Germans, she proved herself as brave and as aggressive as any man — and more than most.

In 1940, in the half of France unoccupied by the Nazis, Marseille was a magnet for downed RAF crew and British soldiers left behind after the Dunkirk evacuation, all hoping to make their way home via Spain.  An escape route over the Pyrenees was organised underneath the noses of the pro-German French authorities. Nancy’s wealthy husband, Henri, financed operations, while Nancy herself, dressed up to the nines, carried messages between members of the group.

Then she progressed to escorting the ‘packages’ — escaped Allied soldiers and airmen — along the coast to the border. It was dangerous work, with constant fear of discovery or betrayal. At one stage, she was arrested by French police and interrogated in prison for four days. The leader of the escape line bluffed his way in and  secured her release. After that, it was clear her days were numbered and she went to ground.

Six weeks before D-Day, she was parachuted into the heavily-forested and mountainous Auvergne region of central France to prepare local Resistance groups, the Maquis, for the job of harrying the Germans and delaying their reinforcements once the invasion began

The 7,000 partisans were disorderly, disorganised and riven by personal rivalries, more of a  rabble than an underground army that would do damage to the Germans. They had little interest in newcomers from across the Channel sorting them out, particularly a woman.

Nancy proved her mettle, arranging air drops and hiding supplies of weapons, travelling between the groups, paying out money, urging them to co-operate, knocking them, as best she could, into shape. She was as tough as the old army boots she eschewed for heels. With an escort of Maquisards, she shot her way through enemy patrols and roadblocks.
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The sadness was that after the liberation she returned to  Marseille to discover that Henri was dead. Shortly after her flight from the city, he had been caught, imprisoned and tortured. The Gestapo shot him.
She blamed herself for his death. If he’d told them where she was, he might have lived. But he refused.
She was festooned with honours — a British George Medal, the French Legion d’Honneur and three Croix de Guerre. She remarried, returned to Australia to live, took up politics for a while, then came back to Britain to retire in 2001.

Her body is to be cremated, but at her request the ashes will be scattered in the Auvergne.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:55 AM | Permalink

January 25, 2014

"Keeping life alive, and passing it on"

That we are living through a dark age. An age, if you like, of ‘endarkenment’ — and I don’t necessarily mean that negatively. The world is aflood with dark psychic fluid, everything’s stained with it. We all say we hate the stuff, but we don’t act that way, we splash in it. It’s an age in which, for reasons we can’t comprehend, everything’s being turned inside out, everything’s imploding and exploding at once, and we can’t stop it.

And it’s going to continue, it’ll go on for a long, long time, longer than we’re going to be alive. So we can’t find peace, we can’t ‘win,’ it’s not going to be all right. Not for us. But that doesn’t have to rob us of purpose; in fact it’s the opposite, it implies a great purpose: That what each of us must do is cleave to what we find most beautiful in the human heritage — and pass it on. So that one day, one day when this endarkenment exhausts itself, those precious things we’ve passed on will still be alive, stained perhaps but functional, still present in some form, and it will be possible for the people of that day to make use of them to construct a life that is a life — the life of freedom and variety and order and light and dark, in their proper proportions (whatever they may be). The life that we’d choose now if we could.

And that to pass these precious fragments on is our mission, a dangerous mission — that if you were going to volunteer for crucial, hazardous work, work of great importance and risk, this might be the job you drew. And it isn’t a bad job at all. Actually, it’s the best job. And his mother, and me, and our friends — ‘And you too, man,’ I said, ‘I can see it in your eyes’ — that’s what we’re doing here. Trying to do. And it’s no small thing, it’s the best, man, it’s one of the few things left to be proud of.
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Maybe the most important thing to remember right now is that many people are doing this work. It's more public in a writer or an artist or an environmentalist, but anyone who loves something life-giving and tends it — to garden, or to read, or to brew beer, or (even this is becoming lost) to take long walks — is, as Pasternak put it, keeping life alive, and passing it on.

Michael Ventura, The Age of Endarkenment, Whole Earth Review, Winter 1989 via The Great Zero Gate

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 AM | Permalink

Intensive care nurse writes about Near-Death Experiences

Penny Satori, an intensive care nurse, has a new book about to come out in Britain entitled The Wisdom Of Near-Death Experiences, 
which is excerpted today in the Daily Mail, Extraordinary new book by intensive care nurse reveals dramatic evidence she says should banish our fear of dying

Back in 1995, I began to wonder: is death so terrible that we must do everything in our power to delay it with powerful drugs and machines? What is death, anyway? What happens when we die? Why are we so afraid of it?
….. I decided to embark on a PhD on near-death experiences, while continuing to work in intensive care.

I began my eight-year study as a cynic. But by the time it  ended, I was convinced that near-death experiences are a genuine phenomenon.

So what exactly is a near-death experience? At its simplest, it’s a clear and memorable vision that occurs when people are close to death — though only a small percentage of us will have one.

Researchers now agree that each vision will contain at least one of several recognized components, such as travelling down a tunnel towards a bright light, meeting dead relatives, or having an out-of-body experience.
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Throughout an NDE, hearing and sight become more acute, and awareness is heightened. Often, the experience has been described to me as ‘realer than real’.  Time ceases to have meaning. In many cases, it feels as if the vision has lasted for hours though the person may have been unconscious for only a few seconds or minutes. Sometimes, it feels as if time speeds up; sometimes it goes slower.
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Yet NDEs are not a new phenomenon at all; they’ve been reported throughout history.

They also feature in some of the greatest books in history — including the Bible; The Republic, by the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato; and the Tibetan Book of the Dead, an ancient religious text about the interval between life and rebirth. It’s only in the past few decades, however, that scientists have tried to discover what causes NDEs.

The most common theory is that they’re a quirk of the brain when it’s starved of oxygen. But this now seems extremely unlikely….Could NDEs, instead, be a side-effect of high levels of carbon dioxide in the blood, which can be another sign of approaching death? Again, unlikely.
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Are NDEs merely hallucinations caused by drugs? Clearly not — as 20 per cent of the patients in my sample, including Tom Kennard, had received no drugs at all.

Indeed, when I analysed my research, I found that pain-killing and sedative drugs, particularly at high levels,  seem to make it less likely that a patient will have an NDE. In other words, well-meaning doctors who over-sedate dying patients may be denying them a natural and comforting final vision.
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One thing is clear: research has shown that near-death experiences often lead to a spiritual reappraisal…. they generally become more considerate of others…..Two lesser-known after-effects of NDEs — reported by many researchers — are that some people develop a new sensitivity to electricity or have problems with their wristwatches. Sometimes they don’t even connect the fact that their watch can’t keep time — or stops altogether — with what they’ve been through.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:26 AM | Permalink

January 24, 2014

Death by Elephants

'Fearless' animal-lover, 24, who was stomped to death by elephants while traveling alone in remote national park in Thailand

The body of a 24-year-old American woman traveling alone in Thailand and missing for five days was found over the weekend in a national park, trampled by elephants.

Lily Glidden's body was so badly damaged that authorities immediately came to the startling conclusion after finding her January 18 following a manhunt that brought in 70 people. The Tufts graduate of Freeville, New York, had been taking pictures of the animals in Kaeng Krachan National Park, just outside Bangkok.

Her devastated family paid tribute to her and her work to help animals in a statement to NBC today:

We believe that what happened to Lily was a result of unknowable and unusual circumstances which she must have been unable to foresee or prevent.'  Lily was very aware of the dangers of working with wildlife and not a person to court foolish risks, particularly where animals were involved. She had an educated and dedicated respect for the natural world and was completely comfortable in it. She did extensive solo hiking and backpacking in many parts throughout the West and knew how to respond to chance encounters with bears and other potentially dangerous animals. She was also a fearless individual… We would wish her remembered as an extremely competent professional in her chosen field
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On her Facebook page, the biology student showed her love of animals. Various pictures show her posing alongside snakes, wolves and a pet tortoise.  She had taken courses at the Vermont Wilderness School and the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington and wanted to work as a vet.  She was also president of the Tufts outdoor club.


 Lilly Glidden

Condolences to her family and may she rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:22 PM | Permalink

January 23, 2014

“I decided I wanted to have one of the most organized good-byes in recorded history and I think I will be successful.”

Former Kansas City Star Reporter Martin Manley creates a website to explain his suicide

“I decided I wanted to have one of the most organized good-byes in recorded history and I think I will be successful.” — Martin Manley, 1953-2013

Jim Romensko  reports that he was only 60.

Kansas City Star reports former sports statistics reporter commits suicide at Overland Park police station

Kansas City sportscaster sparks hunt for $200,000 stash of gold after fans mistake GPS coordinates revealed on morning he killed himself as a treasure map

From his website.  He had no health issues, no legal issues, no financial problems, he did not feel lonely and he was not depressed.

Suicide Preface  " I decided I wanted to have one of the most organized good-byes in recorded history and I think I will be successful."
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"The key has always been to do it before it becomes impossible to accomplish what I’m doing now – because then it’s too late and I would simply be along for the ride to the inevitable cliff. And, that has always been an unacceptable conclusion to my life. I became convinced that had I waited even another few years, I would never have been able to produce this site."

Why suicide? "Because I can."  And he "wanted to go out on top."  He was afraid of growing older. He was afraid of losing his memory.  He was afraid of losing control.  He began thinking about what he could accomplish by being dead.  He wanted to leave money to people he cared about.  He was sick of watching the suffering of the world.  Economic collapse was inevitable.

Why not  Frankly, I didn’t have any major problem that would cause me to do it.  No loved ones would be affected.  He wasn't married. He had no children. His parents had died.  His brother and sister both had independent lives and no children.  Except for brief periods he was never really happy.

Why 60? His life insurance would expire in 2014.  Divorced twice, he decided to die on his birthday August 15th, two weeks before his rental lease expired.  He wouldn't have to renew his renter's insurance, his car insurance, his drivers' license or his license plate.  He hated winter.  By planning his death 14 months in advance, he was able to leave his legacy in the form of this website which documents his life.

Health  I didn’t miss a scheduled day of work in over 30 years leading up to my death…..I’ve never eaten properly. My personality is so obsessive that once I started working on something…When I was working in the 1980’s I started skipping lunch because it meant taking a break and I didn’t want no stinking breaks. I never ate breakfast so it turned into a lifestyle whereby I would eat once a day – supper.

My religion So, how can I justify committing suicide. Here’s a hint… I can’t.

It’s also my hope that this web-site will be more than just a memorial to my life and those around me. That somehow, someway, it will be an inspiration – not to leave life prematurely, but to have a more fulfilling life and one that centers more around others than oneself. If I could bottle the last 14 months and apply it to a much earlier age, I would have been a far superior contributor to society!
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I can say without fear of contradiction that since June 11, 2012, I have been much more focused on others than myself. I’ve done many things that I otherwise would not have done solely based upon the fact that I was not going to be around much longer and wouldn’t have many more opportunities. Knowing it was coming to an end helped me focus on what was most important.
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I’ve just never led my life as one should who is truly faithful. That is, as I said at the top of this section, the real issue when it comes to ending one’s life – a lack of (enough) faith.

So, I hope nobody will read this site and be motivated into committing suicide. This site is not here to justify it and it’s not here for that reason.
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I pray that God will forgive me and through his grace via the sacrifice of his Son, I will be saved.

I found Martin Manley's website fascinating and very sad.  If only he had kept death before him daily, he would have lived a much happier life.  Instead, organizing his good-byes and timing his suicide became such an obsession that he refused the gift of the life given to him.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:23 PM | Permalink

From Ashes to Diamonds

For some years now, companies have offered to turn the ashes of a beloved into a diamond.  From Ashes To Ashes To Diamonds: A Way To Treasure The Dead, a story from NPR, explains the process.

 Blue Diamonds


Diamonds are supposed to be a girl's best friend. Now, they might also be her mother, father or grandmother.

Swiss company Algordanza takes cremated human remains and — under high heat and pressure that mimic conditions deep within the Earth — compresses them into diamonds.

Rinaldo Willy, the company's founder and CEO, says he came up with the idea a decade ago. Since then, his customer base has expanded to 24 countries.  Each year, the remains of between 800 and 900 people enter the facility. About three months later, they exit as diamonds, to be kept in a box or turned into jewelry.

Most of the orders Algordanza receives come from relatives of the recently deceased, though some people make arrangements for themselves to become diamonds once they've died. Willy says about 25 percent of his customers are from Japan.

At between $5,000 and $22,000, the process costs as much as some funerals. The process and machinery involved are about the same as in a lab that makes synthetic diamonds from other carbon materials.

The basic process reduces the ash to carbon, then slides it into a machine that applies intense heat and pressure — for weeks. That's at least several hundred million years faster than diamonds are made in nature
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It only takes about a pound of ashes to make a single diamond, Willy says. His company has created up to nine diamonds from one individual's ashes.
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Most of the stones come out blue, Willy says, because the human body contains trace amounts of boron, an element that may be involved in bone formation. "I don't know why, but if the diamond is blue, and the deceased also had blue eyes, I hear almost every time that the diamond had the same color as the eyes of the deceased," says Willy, who personally delivers the diamonds to his Swiss customers.

Each time, he says, the family is happy that their loved one has, in a sense, returned home. And in sparkling form to boot.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:13 PM | Permalink

Memorial gifts

Weighing In at the End

 Weight-Of-A-Soul

Three-Fourths of an Ounce, a new line of condolence products including memorial candles and jewelry, is named after measurements taken by the early 1900s Massachusetts doctor Duncan MacDougall. After studying terminally ill people and euthanized dogs, he concluded that a body lost three-quarters of an ounce at the moment of death, so a soul must weigh that much. (Scientists, however, have since discredited his methods and data.)

The designer Ted Muehling has contributed polished quartz ovals ($200 each) that weigh, yes, 0.75 ounces. His staff grinds the stones at a workshop behind his Manhattan boutique, on machines with wet sandpaper wheels that emit mournful sounds as they spin. Mr. Muehling, who was brought up Catholic, said the translucent stones remind him of his childhood image of the soul as an internal vapor that grows cloudier with every sin. The polished talismans are also ecumenically reminiscent of crystal orbs that Buddhist temple statues carry and pebbles that Jews place on gravestones.

Website 3-4oz.com.

I think this stone is beautiful.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:02 PM | Permalink

One of the saddest pictures I've ever seen

This young Syrian boy is sleeping between the graves of his parents.

 Syrian Child Sleeps Parents Grave


The slaughter of Syria's Christians - doing nothing is not an option

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:58 PM | Permalink

January 22, 2014

"He is always in my thoughts – and obviously in my heart"

Heart transplant patient falls in love at first sight with SISTER of the man whose heart now beats in his body

Connor Rabinowitz fell in love at first sight with the sister of the man whose heart was now beating inside his chest.
Lucky to get the donor heart of Kellen Roberts after his health collapsed because of a genetic heart condition, Rabinowitz was bowled over when he met Erin - just over a year after his transplant.

Although he was only 17-years-old at the time and she was 26 when they first met in 2004, the electric chemistry between the pair persisted until they got together in 2010 - with both feeling that deceased Kellen helped them to become lovers.
'We had an instant connection – we both feel that Kellen bought us together,' Connor said to the UK's Daily Mirror.
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During his recovery, Connor decided that he wanted to write a letter to the family of the donor - who were protected by anonymity.
'Kellen’s mother Nancy got in touch immediately and a few months later my mum flew to meet her. Six months after that I was well enough to visit too.

'It was an emotional meeting and as Nancy put her hand on my chest to feel Kellen’s heart beating inside me, I saw Erin for the first time.
'We locked eyes – and I was smitten. Erin felt the connection too but she tried to dismiss it, thinking I was too young.

'She took me sightseeing for the weekend and we felt so comfortable together, like we’d known each other our entire lives. I visited twice more and felt the same, but we were both dating other people.'  While school assistant Erin thought that Connor was too young and had a teenage crush on her, the two lost contact for five-years - but got back in touch using Facebook in 2010.
'
We were both single for the first time and everything just fell into place,' said Connor.
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All of the family tell me stories about Kellen. He is always in my thoughts – and obviously in my heart. He was a great guy – he always looked out for people. Through him, I hope I can do the same. If I was to meet him today, it would be like meeting my other half.'

'I was now forever connected with this young man who sacrificed his life and chose to save mine,' Connor told the West Seattle Herald.

'He is my hero, my guardian angel and I will be forever grateful for his decision to donate his organs.'

 Connor Rabinowitz Loves Erin

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 PM | Permalink

Way to go

New York woman dies at peace after month-long farewell party and 'one last blowout' New Year's Eve bash

In late November, Marcy Glanz was hit with some awful news: after battling with ovarian cancer for nearly three years, her doctors told her she had but a few weeks to live.  With just a few, short weeks left on earth, Ms. Glanz didn't succumb to self-pity or fear - rather, she used her remaining days to essentially have a month-long farewell party, during which she could say her goodbyes to the scores of friends she made in her 62 years on earth.

'Many of us die too soon and have no chance to say goodbye, or we have a long, ugly painful demise,' her husband, Marion Stewart, said. 'Hers was neither of those.'
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Glanz's final days are recounted in a lengthy piece in The New York Times, which describes her desires for her final weeks as wanting 'a monthlong farewell party that mixed frivolity and friendship, laughter and tears.' Ms. Glanz got her wish.
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Rather than spend her final weeks in a hospital or hospice, Ms. Glanz was able to remain in her home on West 90th Street in Manhattan, where a medical staff was brought in to give her the care she needed as she prepared to lay down her arms in her long battle against cancer.

Ms. Glanz - who had a master's degree in educational psychology from Harvard - spent much of December sharing memories with her family in the forms of old pictures and home movies.  Mr. Stewart notes that while there was some crying as he, his wife and their two sons remembered happier times, 'but there was a lot more laughing than crying.'

'We did many of the things that people do after death, but we did it before she died,' he says.

Ms. Glanz even helped plan her own memorial service, giving her husband specific instructions on everything down to the music and speakers.  'There was no "Woe is me" or "I can’t stand this,’” he said. 'There was just a peacefulness and wanting to wrap everything up.'

One of Ms. Glanz's biggest regrets was that her unfortunate death would mean she would never meet her grandchildren. So, in preparation, her sons brought her a copy of Goodnight Moon - the same book she used to read to them before they went to sleep - and she recorded herself reading it so her future grandchildren could hear her voice and be 'tucked in by the grandmother they never met.'

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On New Year's Eve, Ms. Glanz decided that she wanted to have 'one last blowout party' at the apartment she shared with her husband.  She invited 20 people and made toasts with ginger ale as she worked the room wearing a pink, fuzzy boa.

The next day - New Year's Day - was the last day Ms. Glanz could speak. She died on January 5 - in her bed and surrounded by her family.  'She had the ability and wherewithal to say everything she wanted to say,' Ms. Paura said. 'It was as if, by facing her death through the prism of love,  she transcended it.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:37 PM | Permalink

January 8, 2014

Giving Death Its Due

Carl Trueman in First Things writes Dylan Thomas and Giving Death Its Due

Thomas was indeed a remarkable talent. At age nineteen, he penned the magnificent and defiant ‘And death shall have no dominion.’ The imagery and the simple power of the form are stunning; that it was written by a man yet to reach adulthood is a source of envy to those of us who are mere mortal……And yet, for all of the maturity of the poetry, the sentiment is unmistakably that of a young man: The defiance of death has that naive, exultant quality, reveling in the fact that death may take the body but it cannot break the soul.
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Thomas wrote perhaps his most famous poem, ‘Do not go gentle into that good night.’ His father was dying and, touched by mortality in a way that becomes unavoidable as one ages, Thomas’s defiance here is somewhat different.  In this poem, death does have a certain dominion. The only response is to rage, rage against the dying of the light.  Faced with the reality of death, there is no romantic heroism left beyond that offered by the ultimately impotent shaking of a fist before the coming silent darkness.
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 Dylan Thomas

Finally, when Thomas himself died, one of the unfinished poems he left behind was ‘Elegy,’ a gloomy reflection upon his father’s death which begins with the haunting lines:

Too proud to die, broken and blind he died
The darkest way, and did not turn away
A cold kind brave in his narrow pride

There is no hint of triumph here and no defiant anger either. Just a feeling of resignation. His attitude to death has altered.
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Thomas closed ‘Elegy’ with the moving—and in my experience truthful lines—about his dead father: ‘Until I die he will not leave my side.’ These were perhaps the last lines he ever wrote. After all, one does not ‘come to terms’ with a beloved father’s death; one simply learns to live in the bleak presence of his absence.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:43 AM | Permalink

Private Deaths

Richard Rodriguez interview in Salon

Fewer and fewer people are being buried. More and more of my friends now are being cremated and their ashes, I don’t know where their ashes are anymore. They’re somewhere in Idaho, they’re somewhere on Muir Woods in someplace. That revolution, which I think is related to the fact that we don’t want to live on the earth anymore that there is an anxiety about being here, about being in this place at the same time that the cultural left has come up with this idea of green nature. We all have to become green. Well, nature is primarily brown in the world, you know, and the lessons of nature lead to nature, they don’t lead to this perennial spring.

Or to say it another way, you cannot have spring without winter. That this sentimentality about our lives where people are not buried. So a good friend of mine died; he asked two women friends of his to take his ashes, we know not where. And another friend of mine calls up and says, “I’d love to go see. I’d love to pay my respects, I couldn’t come to the funeral, could I go to the cemetery?” I say, well I have no idea where he is. The death of the newspaper is being told in the cemetery, in the fact that we are not writing obituaries, many of my friends have died without obituaries, because it’s no longer a civic event to die — it’s a private event. You understand? And so, you know, that fact that the newspaper was the receptacle not simply of news of our birth, but of our death, that fact is really the reason why an obituary for a newspaper becomes in the last several pages an obituary for a cemetery.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 AM | Permalink