March 31, 2014

Funny Epitaphs

From Cemetery Humor at Stories, Etc.

Harry Edsel Smith of Albany, New York:  Born 1903--Died 1942.

Looked up the elevator shaft 
to see if the car was on the way down.
It was.

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In a Thurmont, Maryland, cemetery:

Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up
and no place to go.

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On the grave of Ezekial Aikle in East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia:

Here lies Ezekial Aikle, Age 102. Only the good die young.

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In a London , England cemetery:

Here lies Ann Mann,
who lived an old maid
but died an old Mann.
Dec. 8, 1767

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In a Ruidoso, New Mexico, cemetery:

Here lies Johnny Yeast. Pardon him for not rising.

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A lawyer's epitaph in England:

Sir John Strange. Here lies an honest lawyer, and that is Strange.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

March 25, 2014

Giraffe in final goodbye that gave goose bumps to everyone watching

In the Netherlands, Giraffe licks dying zoo worker

 2Giraffe Licks Dying Man-1

A giraffe gave a lick to a dying man who asked as a last wish to be taken to Blijdorp Zoo in Rotterdam, Netherlands, where he had done odd jobs for 25 years.

Mario Eijs, who is mentally disabled, had developed a brain tumor and had difficulty walking or speaking. He wanted to pay a final visit to the co-workers and animals he loved.

The Stichting Ambulance Wens offers free transport to terminally ill patients.

Several giraffes became curious when Eijs was brought to their inside enclosure on March 19.

"Mario got a lick on his nose after a lot of snuffles," Foundation worker Olaf Exoo said in a written summary of the day. Exoo said it was "a last greeting to each other that gave everybody watching goose bumps."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:56 AM | Permalink

100 FedEx Trucks in Funeral Procession

When Michael J. "Mickey" Petronchak died last week, he was deeply beloved by his fellow co-workers. 

As a proof of love and to pay him respect, 100 FedEx delivery vans joined his funeral procession.

 Fedex Funeral For Mickey

One friend described him thus

He was a ramp agent at Fedex Express. He was basically a manager, and he was on top of his game all the time. God, he had to be working there forever! He never called off, took a vacation, or worked less than 8 hours a day. Mickey loved everyone, and did so many generous things for people. He had no selflishness what so ever. He was so special to me because he was the first person I met at Fedex. He trained me and made me always be happy to be at work. He is a role model to me, and a lot of other people. He is one of those people that never take credit for what tasks he achieved. No one disliked him and he was the hardest worker I knew. Mickey used to give me 5 bucks for the vending machine. Why, I don't know. He just did it all the time.

RIP.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

"She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing."

The actor James Rebhorn who died last week at 65 after a long battle with melanoma, wrote his own obituary.

He spent a lot more time talking about the people he loved than himself, and he allotted just one paragraph to talk about his career as an actor.

James Robert Rebhorn was born on Sept. 1, 1948, in Philadelphia, PA. His mother, Ardell Frances Rebhorn, nee Hoch, loved him very much and supported all his dreams. She taught him the value of good manners and courtesy, and that hospitality is no small thing. His father, James Harry Rebhorn, was no less devoted to him. From him, Jim learned that there is no excuse for poor craftsmanship. A job well done rarely takes more or less time than a job poorly done. They gave him his faith and wisely encouraged him to stay in touch with God.

He is survived by his sister, Janice Barbara Galbraith, of Myrtle Beach, SC. She was his friend, his confidant, and, more often than either of them would like to admit, his bridge over troubled waters.

He is also survived by his wife, Rebecca Fulton Linn, and his two daughters, Emma Rebecca Rebhorn and Hannah Linn Rebhorn. They anchored his life and gave him the freedom to live it. Without them, always at the center of his being, his life would have been little more than a vapor. Rebecca loved him with all his flaws, and in her the concept of ceaseless love could find no better example.

His children made him immensely proud. Their dedication to improving our species and making the world a better place gave him hope for the future. They deal with grief differently, and they should each manage it as they see fit. He hopes, however, that they will grieve his passing only as long as necessary. They have much good work to do, and they should get busy doing it. Time is flying by. His son-in-law, Ben, also survives him. Jim loved Ben, who was as a son to Jim, especially through these last months.

His aunts Jean, Dorothy and Florence, numerous cousins and their families, and many devoted friends also survive Jim. He loved them all, and he knows they loved him.

Jim received his BA at Wittenberg University and his MFA at Columbia. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Nu Zeta 624, a life-long Lutheran, and a longtime member of both the AMC and ACLU.

Jim was fortunate enough to earn his living doing what he loved. He was a professional actor. His unions were always there for him, and he will remain forever grateful for the benefits he gained as a result of the union struggle. Without his exceptional teachers and the representation of the best agents in the business, he wouldn’t have had much of a career. He was a lucky man in every way.

 James Rebhorn R.I.P.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:29 AM | Permalink

March 20, 2014

Death 101

Why College Students Are Dying to Get Into 'Death Classes'  by Erika Hayasaki in the Wall Street Journal

Thousands of college courses on dying and mortality are being held nationwide—and teaching lessons about life.

At Kean University, students are dying (as it were) to get into Norma Bowe's class "Death in Perspective," which has sometimes carried a three-year waiting list. On one field trip to a local coroner's office, Dr. Bowe's students were shown three naked cadavers on metal tables. One person had died from a gunshot, the other from suicide and the third by drowning.

The last corpse appeared overweight but wasn't; he had expanded like a water balloon. A suspect in a hit-and-run case, he had fled the scene, been chased by police, abandoned his car and jumped into the Passaic River. On the autopsy table, he looked surprised, his mouth splayed open, as if he realized he had made a mistake. As the class clustered around, a technician began to carve his torso open. Some students gagged or scurried out, unable to stand the sight or the smell.

This grim visit was just one of the excursions for Dr. Bowe's class. Every semester, students also leave the campus in Union, New Jersey, to visit a cemetery, a maximum-security prison (to meet murderers), a hospice, a crematory and a funeral home, where they pick out caskets for themselves. The homework is also unusual: Students are required to write goodbye letters to dead loved ones and to compose their own eulogies and wills.

Sure, it's morbid. But graduates of Dr. Bowe's death class and others like it across the U.S. often come away with an important skill: the ability to talk frankly about death.
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Not all students who take death classes have high-minded motivations. One student was spurred to take Dr. Bowe's death class by watching A&E's ghoulish reality show "The First 48," about the early days of murder investigations. But most of the young people were, in different ways, haunted by death—coping with suicidal family members, the violent deaths of loved ones or terrifying personal encounters with cancer. The class offered them a rigorous, carefully guided opportunity for the kind of reflection that many people do only in old age or after receiving a terminal diagnosis.

"The democracy of death encompasses us all," Dr. Feifel once wrote. "To deny or ignore it distorts life's pattern… In gaining an awareness of death, we sharpen and intensify our awareness of life."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:09 PM | Permalink

March 19, 2014

Hallucinogenics for the Dying

In the background and for some time now  (dare I say just in time for boomers), researchers have been working on drugs to ease the passage from this life.  I do believe that most of the pain at the end of life  is not physical but psychological.

In 2004, the Washington Post published, 'Ecstasy' Use Studied to Ease Fear in Terminally Ill

Drugs can ease pain and reduce anxiety, but what about the more profound issues that come with impending death? The wish to resolve lingering conflicts with family members. The longing to know, before it's too late, what it means to love, or what it meant to live. There is no medicine to address such dis-ease.
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[Lead researcher] Halpern emphasized the differences between his study and the freewheeling experiments conducted by Leary in the 1960s.

"This is not about hippy dippy Halpern trying to turn on the world. I'm not looking at this as a magic bullet," he said. "But for a lot of people, the anxiety about death is so tremendous that there is no way to get their arms around the problems that were ongoing in their family. This could be a substantial contribution to the range of palliative care strategies we're trying to develop for people facing their death."

The FDA approved the use of MDMA or ecstasy for a Harvard Medical School study  which began in 2005 at McLean Hospital.

“MDMA, unlike traditional hallucinogens that can make a person lose their sense of self, lets a person keep their identity,” said Halpern, who is also a HMS instructor of psychiatry…..He cited his work with a friend’s father, who was dying of cancer in his 50s.

“He was focusing all of his attention on the time that he didn’t have,” Doblin said. “MDMA made him appreciate the time that he did have.”

Doblin stressed that MDMA is not a miracle drug.  “It does not take you away from the pain, but rather through the pain,” he said. “You go through a more fluid emotional state.”

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Not for nothing is MDMA ,which some describe as an emotional hallucinogen. called the love drug.

Last week in the New York Times LSD, Reconsidered for Therapy

On Tuesday, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease is posting online results from the first controlled trial of LSD in more than 40 years. The study, conducted in the office of a Swiss psychiatrist near Bern, tested the effects of the drug as a complement to talk therapy for 12 people nearing the end of life, including Peter.

Most of the subjects had terminal cancer, and several died within a year after the trial — but not before having a mental adventure that appeared to have eased the existential gloom of their last days.

“Their anxiety went down and stayed down,” said Dr. Peter Gasser, who conducted the therapy and followed up with his patients a year after the trial concluded.

The new publication marks the latest in a series of baby steps by a loose coalition of researchers and fund-raisers who are working to bring hallucinogens back into the fold of mainstream psychiatry. Before research was banned in 1966 in the United States, doctors tested LSD’s effect for a variety of conditions, including end-of-life anxiety.
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Peter, the social worker, agreed. “I will say I have been more emotional since the study ended, and I don’t mean always cheerful,” he said. “But I think it’s better to feel things strongly — better to be alive than to merely function.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:36 PM | Permalink

March 18, 2014

"Don't try to take more than your share"

A Washington Post story about Dave Barry's book tour made this oblique reference to his funeral plans  (mimes, snipers, no camels) to which reader George replied:

Here is a wrinkle that I’ve been toying with.  Beside the sign-in register (why do we have this custom?), my urn will be tastefully displayed, with a small mound of my ashes in a dish.  Beside the dish will be a small spoon and a supply of small (about 1 inch square) zip-lock baggies and sign saying, “You say that George will always be in your heart – well here’s your chance to have him in your purse or wallet, too.”

And Dave Barry remarked "Don't try to take more than your share."

A few readers had some ideas, none of which I recommend, but all of which are funny.

Our ol bud Charley passed, and as he was a serious hippie Dead fan, he owned forty some hawaiian shirts, so for his service, [some kind gals washed them] they were on racks in the rear, and folks were invited to pick one out and wear it home in his memory.
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I told my wife she could just pitch my ashes but she asked me what I would do with hers. I said I would find a tall, shiny urn with a fancy top and put it on the mantel. Then I could tell people, "That's my trophy wife."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:01 PM | Permalink

March 14, 2014

Chemotherapy May Lead To Less Peaceful Death

If you're dying of cancer, especially if you are young, you might want to forego that last bout with chemotherapy if you want a peaceful death. 

Study: Chemotherapy May Lead To Less Peaceful Death

More than half of end-stage cancer patients receive chemotherapy during the last few months of their life, and those who received such treatment were more likely to die in a hospital intensive care unit, hooked to a ventilator, rather than at home as they would have preferred, says a new study.

Patients were also less likely to have discussed their end of life wishes with their oncologist compared to other end-stage cancer patients who opted not to continue chemotherapy.

Researchers say doctors have a hard time initiating conversations with their patients, especially those dying from metastatic cancer.
“There’s a subtle dance that happens between oncologist and patient,” Dr. Alexi Wright, an assistant professor of medicine at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the study’s lead author, told the Boston Globe. “Where doctors don’t want to broach the subject of dying, especially in younger patients, because it makes those patients think we’re giving up on them.”
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Wright is hoping this study will make more doctors aware that patients who receive chemotherapy may get a false sense of hope and be denied a more peaceful death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:04 PM | Permalink

The Sandbox Grave

Mother creates heartbreaking SANDBOX tribute on her infant son's grave so his toddler brother could spend time with him

 Sandbox Grave

When Ashlee Hammac's newborn son died just five days after being welcomed in the world, she decided to pay a special tribute to baby Ryan - by building a sandbox on his grave so that his older brother could come and spend time with him.
Last week, the 24-year-old mother from Lake City, Florida, shared a touching and heart-breaking photo on the Facebook page Sawyer's Heart depicting her 3-year-old son, Tucker, playing with toy cars in the blue sand by his brother's headstone.

Hammac's younger son, Ryan Michael Jolley, was born October 11, 2013, and passed away October 16 from Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephlopathy: a condition that occurs when there is not enough oxygen getting to the brain.

Together, the mother and son embraced the idea of turning the newborn’s black-granite gravesite into a play area filled with sand.
‘He always goes out there with me, and sits out there, and sings lullabies, and talks to him just like he was there,' Miss Hammac told People Magazine. 'So I wanted it to be special for him too. His favorite thing right now is trucks.’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:44 AM | Permalink

March 8, 2014

Beautiful cemeteries

20 Beautiful Cemeteries That Are Absolutely To Die For

 Mount-Herzl-Cemetery
Mount Herzl, named for the founder of modern political Zionism, sits in Jerusalem as Israel's national cemetery. Landscape Architect Haim Giladi laid out the grounds, which house the burials of Israel's prime ministers, presidents and honorable military leaders.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:38 AM | Permalink

"I hardly noticed this holocaust around me"

Give Death Its Due

Ever since I was born about half a million people a year have died in Britain alone, making more than thirty million of them in my lifetime; yet until quite recently I hardly noticed this holocaust around me. Death played no more than a very minor part in the jejune drama of my life; I lived as if exclusively among immortals, where death, if it occurred at all, seemed almost a moral judgment on the lives of the departed rather than a purely natural event in those lives. They must have done something wrong to die.

Now all that is changing; I have reached an age at which even the deaths of those I have known but slightly affect me more deeply than the deaths of those I knew well affected me, when life without death seemed to be the norm.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:35 AM | Permalink

"Memory Wound"

 Norwegian Memorial Victims Brevik

Memorial to mark where Anders Breivik ‘left a scar on humanity’ by carving three-metre channel through island where he slaughtered 69 youths

The July 22 terror attacks killed eight in a bombing at the government headquarters in Oslo and 69 people, mostly teenagers, were murdered by Anders Breivik in a shooting spree at a youth camp organised by Norway’s social-democratic Arbeiderpartiet.

Artist Jonas Dahlberg's Memory Wound will be a 3.5metre (11ft 6in) channel cut in the mainland facing Utøya, creating a 'physical wound' in the landscape.

The excavation will represent the physical experience of something being taken and 'reflect the abrupt and permanent loss of those who died on Utøya'.  The 3.5metre wide gap will have the names of all 77 victims, both Oslo and Utøya, engraved on its sides.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:15 AM | Permalink