December 30, 2014

"Mummified room" of WWI Soldier

World War I soldier’s room untouched for almost 100 years

His torn military jacket still hangs by his desk and his shoes are still tucked neatly by his bed — relics of a life lost long ago. In the small village of Bélâbre in central France sits the room of Hubert Rochereau, untouched for nearly a century as a memorial to the fallen solider, who died during World War I. It’s “an unforgettable journey back in time,” reported la Noveulle Republique, which described it as a “mummified room.”

 Mummified Soldiers Room

Dragoons officer Rochereau died at age 22 inside an English field ambulance after a battle in Belgium on April 26, 1918. According to the Guardian, the officer’s parents decided to keep his room exactly as he left it — even after selling the house under the poignant, if legally unenforceable condition the room should not be changed for 500 years.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:39 PM | Permalink

December 19, 2014

A Million Mummies found buried with care in central Egypt

Cemetery with one MILLION mummies unearthed in Egypt: 1,500-year-old desert necropolis is the largest ever found

A cemetery containing more than a million mummified human bodies has been unearthed in central Egypt, according to archaeologists. Scientists have already excavated more than 1,700 mummies, preserved by the hot dry desert in the Faiyum region of Egypt about 60 miles south of Cairo.  But those leading the work believe their could be up to a million similar bodies buried in shafts cut into the limestone rock that are at times up to 75ft deep.
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It is thought that the mummies were buried around 1,500 years ago, between the 1st and 7th Century AD, when Egypt was controlled by the Roman and Byzantine Empire.  Unlike many famous mummified remains discovered in Egypt, these were found in mass graves and appear to be ordinary citizens rather than royalty or other important figures.
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Archaeologists have also uncovered a bizarre range of mummies, including one man who is more than seven feet (213 cm) tall.  They have also discovered that the mummies appear to be clustered together by hair color, with those with blond hair in one area and all of those with red hair in another.
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Among the recent discoveries made last year were the mummified remains of a little girl aged around 18 months old, still with two bracelets on each arm….Professor Muhlestein said there appears to have also been some attempt by those who buried her to use the full mummification process.  Writing on the team's Facebook page, which Professor Muhlestein only recently updated in an attempt to keep the discoveries secret, said: '

This mummy was beautifully wrapped in a tunic and with other nice wrappings. …'There was some evidence that they tried much of the full mummification process. The toes and toenails and brain and tongue were amazingly preserved.

'We found a wonderful necklace and two bracelets on each arm. The jewelry makes us think it was a girl, but we cannot tell.  'She was buried with great care as someone who obviously loved her very much did all they could to take care of this little girl in burial. Very sad. 'But they succeeded, it was a beautiful burial.
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The burials are not in tombs, but rather in a field of sand. The people in the cemetery represent the common man.  'They are the average people who are usually hard to learn about because they are not very visible in written sources.

'They were poor, yet they put a tremendous amount of their resources into providing beautiful burials.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

Terminal Lucidity in the hours before death

Scientific American One Last Goodbye: The Strange Case of Terminal Lucidity

The term was coined only five years ago by German biologist Michael Nahm. His 2009 article in The Journal of Near-Death Studies was the first modern review article on the curious subject of cognitively impaired people becoming clearheaded as their death approaches. According to him, cases of “terminal lucidity” had been recorded for millennia, from accounts by classical scholars such as Hippocrates, Cicero and Plutarch to 19th-century medical luminaries like Benjamin Rush (who wrote the first American treatise on mental illness). It’s just that, apparently, no one had thought to label or conceptualize these elusive incidents in any formal way before.
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Here’s how Nahm defined terminal lucidity in that original article:

The (re-)emergence of normal or unusually enhanced mental abilities in dull, unconscious, or mentally ill patients shortly before death, including considerable elevation of mood and spiritual affectation, or the ability to speak in a previously unusual spiritualized and elated manner.

The author characterizes terminal lucidity as one of the more common, but lesser known, ELEs (or “end-of-life experiences”). Others on his list include deathbed visions, apparitions, near-death/out-of-body experiences, telepathic impressions, and so on.
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In a follow-up article by Nahm appearing that same year in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, and coauthored with the psychiatrist Bruce Greyson of the University of Virginia, we get some clarification on this. Of 49 case studies of terminal lucidity, the vast majority (84 percent) occurred within a week of death; 43 percent, in fact, transpired the final day of life.

Some examples:

A 92-year-old woman with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, hadn’t recognized her family for years, but the day before her death, she had a pleasantly bright conversation with them, recalling everyone’s name. She was even aware of her own age and where she’d been living all this time.
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The authors detailed the extraordinary case of a young German woman named Anna (“Käthe”) Katharina Ehmer, who died in 1922. Her case is especially valuable, according to them, because it was witnessed by two highly respected and influential local figures: Wilhem Wittneben, the chief physician at what was then one of the largest insane asylums in Germany (Hephata), and Friedrich Happich, the director of that same institution. Over the years, both Wittneben and Happich relayed the experience many times in speeches and writings, and their independent descriptions of the incident cross-verified each other.

Käthe was among the most profoundly disabled of the patients at the asylum. Happich paints a vivid picture of her mental status. “From birth on,” he writes, “she was seriously retarded. She had never learned to speak a single word. She stared for hours on a particular spot, then fidgeted for hours without a break. She gorged her food, fouled herself day and night, uttered an animal-like sound, and slept … never [taking] notice of her environment even for a second.” As if that weren’t enough, Käthe suffered several severe meningitis infections over the years that had damaged her cortical brain tissue.

Yet, despite all this, as the woman lay dying (shortly after having her leg amputated from osseous tuberculosis—talk about bad luck), Wittneben, Happich, and other staff members at the facility gathered in astonishment at her bedside. “Käthe,” wrote Happich, “who had never spoken a single word, being entirely mentally disabled from birth on, sang dying songs to herself. Specifically, she sang over and over again, ‘Where does the soul find its home, its peace? Peace, peace, heavenly peace!’” For half an hour she sang. Her face, up to then so stultified, was transfigured and spiritualized. Then, she quietly passed away.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

December 11, 2014

“I always tie the shoelaces together of the dead. Cause if there is ever a zombie apocalypse, it will be hilarious” 

Since 1850, The Wilde Funeral Home has been conducting funerals and burying people near or in Parkesburg, Pennsylvania.  Caleb Wilde is the sixth generation of Wildes to become a funeral director and run the home and he's a hoot.

His blog, Confessions of a Funeral Director with his irreverent humor and 'eloquent candor' has garnered 50,000 views a month.  So Eric Puchner followed Caleb for a few days to write Confessions of a Mortician.  Death Becomes Him.

“I always tie the shoelaces together of the dead. Cause if there is ever a zombie apocalypse, it will be hilarious” 
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"When you are dead, you don't know that you are dead. It is difficult only for the others. It is the same when you are stupid."
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He calls death a “sacred space where we can embrace the silence.” Perhaps there’s no greater freedom, he says on his website, than to live life with a healthy relationship to death. Before he buries us, he wants to make us more human.
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“Death makes us better people,” he said. “I really believe that. The more we embrace mortality, the more human we become. We look deeper into things: our lives, our relationships, the earth even. We value these things more.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:19 PM | Permalink

Unusual words for grief

ploration
n. weeping

begrutten
adj. having a face swollen from weeping

Niobe
n. an inconsolably bereaved woman, a weeping woman

from In a Word, Futility Closet

 Detail-Weyden, Rogier Van Der - Descent From The Cross - Detail Women (Left)

Detail from Roger van der Weyden's The Descent from the Cross (1435)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink

December 5, 2014

The Merry Cemetery

The Weirdest Cemeteries In The World  From Sapanta, Romania comes The Merry Cemetery noted for its cheery disposition.

 Cemetery-Sapanta-Crosses

 Cemetery-Sapanta-Cross 2

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:33 PM | Permalink

December 2, 2014

Promissory Note

From The Writers Almanac, comes this wonderful poem by Galway Kinnell.  At the link, you can hear Garrison Keillor read

Promissory Note

If I die before you
which is all but certain
then in the moment
before you will see me
become someone dead
in a transformation
as quick as a shooting star's
I will cross over into you
and ask you to carry
not only your own memories
but mine too until you
too lie down and erase us
both together into oblivion.

That's what older people do.  They carry some of the memories of the people they loved.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 PM | Permalink

"All I can say is that the coffin is glued down, so if anything happens Seth will be okay."

Hearse with Deceased Inside Stolen from Funeral

Prominent Sydney human rights lawyer Seth Richardson died at age 52 and the funeral was held Thursday, but not without incident. During funeral preparations, a man jumped into the hearse and drove off- with Richardson in his coffin in the back! Richardson’s brother Tobias called police, who at first thought he was reporting a murder when he said a man drove off with his dead brother. 

Tobias Richardson took matters into his own hands, jumping into his car and giving chase. Fortunately the hearse had turned into a cul-de-sac and Tobias Richardson blocked the only way out with his own car.

The police arrived moments later and detained the driver. The driver turned out to be a man with dementia who had walked away from his nursing home. He was taken to a hospital and no charges were filed. The incident was resolved in 20 minutes, and the funeral proceeded on time.

More details from the Sydney Morning Herald

As his family prepared for the funeral of the 52-year-old, also a regular contributor to letters to the editor in the Herald, in the Blue Mountains on Thursday a man jumped in the hearse and stole it – with Mr Richardson still in a coffin in the back.

"One of the funeral guys who works for the funeral home went out to the hearse to grab the trolley to put it under the coffin and in a split second this guy jumped out of the bushes, jumped straight into the hearse and started it up," Mr Richardson's sister-in-law Hayley West said.

"The funeral guy was banging on the window going 'what the hell are you doing? You can't drive away in the hearse'.
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Mr Richardson's brother, Tobias Richardson, was in the foyer of the Wentworth Falls School of Arts preparing for the service as the drama unfolded. He called police telling them "someone had stolen a car with my dead brother in the back".

"And the police thought it was a murder," Ms West said. "And there was this weird confusion, and he was like 'no, he's already dead, it's a hearse'."
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"The funeral director didn't know what to say to us, he was saying 'this had never happened before, and all I can say is that the coffin is glued down, so if anything happens Seth will be okay."

The whole incident unfolded over 20 minutes and Mr Richardson's funeral still proceeded on time at noon.
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"Seth would have thought this was so funny, he had a wicked sense of humor," Ms West said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:52 AM | Permalink

Death and Taxes

 I'm Taxes Death And

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,"  Benjamin Franklin.

"The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets," Will Rogers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:45 AM | Permalink

December 1, 2014

Death and Taxes

 I'm Taxes Death And

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes,"  Benjamin Franklin.

"The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets," Will Rogers

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:14 PM | Permalink

Don't spend too much time with dying

Dear friends and family, your endless deathbed visits RUINED my precious final moments with my husband. 

In an excoriating open letter that'll bitterly divide opinion, an anguished widow says the unsayable…

And of course I know you grieve for him. I’m certain you feel his absence acutely. But I also believe that by monopolizing him and draining him of the last dregs of his energy you were being insensitive and self-serving. You were encroaching on time that should have been ours alone — and for that I am finding it hard to forgive you.

Remember Make your visits short and meaningful

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:09 PM | Permalink