July 28, 2016

Radiant joy at the moment of death

Who smiles like this near the moment of death?

 Sister Cecilia

Death is a tragedy for mortal man, and yet with faith in eternity and anticipation of the embrace of our heavenly Father, death becomes radiant.

We share today the news of the death of Sister Cecilia, a Carmelite of Santa Fe in Argentina, who suffered from lung cancer. She astonished those who surrounded her in her agony, [smiling as she approached her culmination.]

The death of Sister Cecilia; the rest of the story

Despite her illness, she did not lose her joy, which was sustained by the support of her numerous family members, who remained close by. Joyful nieces and nephews congregated in the gardens outside the hospital where she was admitted for some weeks, sending her messages and helium balloons to distract and entertain her from the window.

Her joy was accompanied — or perhaps explained — by a profound state of prayer. Whenever she could, she put on her habit so as to participate at Mass in the hospital chapel. She lived these Masses with the same devotion that characterized her life behind the grille of the Carmel of Villa Pueyrredon in Buenos Aires.

Despite her illness, Sister Cecilia remained quite lucid. Though she couldn’t talk during her last months, her weak gestures at each Mass gave evidence of her attention and fervor. When the prayers of the faithful included the intention of the sick, her expression showed her gratitude.
She “has softly fallen asleep in the Lord, after an extremely painful illness, which she always endured with joy and surrender to her Divine Spouse,” her sisters in the Carmel of Santa Fe said in announcing her death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:56 AM | Permalink

July 27, 2016

The Dying Role

From Being Mortal:Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

Technological society has forgotten what scholars call the “dying role” and its importance to people as life approaches its end. People want to share memories, pass on wisdoms and keepsakes, settle relationships, establish their legacies, make peace with God, and ensure that those who are left behind will be okay. They want to end their stories on their own terms. This role is, observers argue, among life’s most important, for both the dying and those left behind. And if it is, the way we deny people this role, out of obtuseness and neglect, is cause for everlasting shame. Over and over, we in medicine inflict deep gouges at the end of people’s lives and then stand oblivious to the harm done.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 PM | Permalink

Buried with their favorite games

Vikings buried with their favorite board games Archaeologists have found board games at 36 Viking burials across Europe

Now researchers believe these were placed alongside the bodies of the dead to commemorate their skill in the games during life and to provide them with entertainment in the afterlife.
Mark Hall, a curator at Perth Museum and Art Gallery, has published a new study on Viking board game burials across Northern Europe.He says there have been 36 burials where board games of some description have been found in the graves around Northern Europe.  Among those he highlights are two on the Orkney Isles of Rousay and Sanday, which remained under Norwegian rule until the 15th century when they passed to the Scottish crown.

Writing in the European Journal of Archaeology, Mr Hall said: 'Placing the gaming kit in the grave served to remember or commemorate that status and skill and to make it available for the deceased in the afterlife.'

He writes: 'Just as in life, where success on the gaming board – which needed strategic thinking as well as fighting ability - could be seen to confirm and add to the status of an accomplished warrior, in death the inclusion of a board game signalled ability and success as a warrior and by implication preparedness for the challenge ahead.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:59 PM | Permalink

July 25, 2016

A "rolling wake"

Widow takes dead husband on road trip in Alaska

An American woman took her dead husband’s body on road trip in Alaska, using ice from local canneries to keep the corpse cold, police have said. Officers responded to a call last week to find the body of a 78-year-old man inside an aluminum transport casket.

Ketchikan police chief Alan Bengaard told the Ketchikan Daily News that during the journey, which took place over several days, the woman stopped at canneries for ice to put in the truck bed during the “rolling wake.”  Bengaard told the Juneau Empire that the body was supposed to be en route to the mortuary, but “for some reason she decided to not go directly to the mortuary and had been driving around with him for a couple days.

“My understanding is kind of — leading up to the events of the last couple days — there’s been a rolling wake or viewing. It was pointed out to me that, evidently, she had stopped at a couple of the canneries and got ice and filled the bed of the truck with ice to keep the body chilled.”

The woman is not facing any charges, police said. The man had died of natural causes. A mortuary took custody of the body after the authorities were called.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:51 PM | Permalink

July 24, 2016

Death came calling

New Jersey driver, 26, electrocuted after live power lines fell on her car during severe thunderstorm

An unidentified 26-year-old woman swerved to miss a fallen tree when wires fell on car.  She was electrocuted as she attempted to get out of the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.  Witnesses said the wires were hanging in a puddle on the driver's side.

Heroic California dad and his six-year-old daughter drown after she was swept away by Hawaiian waves

A Berkeley father described by family as an 'avid surfer' died Saturday morning while trying to save his young daughter after she was swept away by waves on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, police said. Mark Hornor, 46, was walking with daughter Mina along the rocky edge of the Makapuu Tide Pools at around 11:20am when witnesses say a wave knocked her into the roiling surf. Hornor leaped in to rescue her but both were lost to the current. Although the father was a physically fit surf fanatic, he was unable to stop a second wave carrying both him and his daughter out to sea. Mina's two sisters were also knocked into the water, but were rescued by a passer-by, Scott Kaito of Kailua, who pulled them to safety.

'There was a huge wave that just swept everybody, all the tide pools and it pulled those two people out and kept taking them further out and further out,' said witness Jamie Ngo.  'They were conscious at first, but I think the longer that they were out there, the waves were pretty brutal.'

New York safari park owner, 81, is trampled to death by an antelope

Hans Boxler Sr, 81, owned the Hidden Valley Animal Adventure in Varysburg. He went to feed the animals around 8:30 pm Sunday and didn't return. Boxler's family went looking for him and found him dead. They also discovered the antelope near its pen with the door open. The Wyoming County sheriff's office found that Boxler was trampled by a a nilgai antelope - the largest Asian antelope, native to India. He died of multiple blunt force trauma injuries according to the county coroner's office.  His death came as a shock to his family, who said in a statement that Boxler understood the nature of his animals and followed a daily routine.

Boxler was a dairy farmer for more than 60 years. He started the wildlife park in 2002 and the venue now houses more than 300 animals from 40 exotic species.  His 60-acre park in Varysburg offers daily safari tours to view animals such as camels, zebras and wildebeest.  The funeral will be held Wednesday, with Boxler's cherished Belgian horses carrying him for one final procession.

Mariah Contreras, 15, died 'playing chicken' with her friends on train tracks

Mariah Contreras, who was about to be a freshman at Willcox High School, died after failing to get out of the way of the train in time. Contreras was part of a group of teens playing the game, according to Willcox Police Chief Jose Rios.  Each child would take a turn attempting to get as close as possible to the train and then dash out of the way before it hit them, according to Rios.

A woman was eaten alive and another seriously injured after they jumped out of a car in a tiger enclosure at a Chinese safari park.

Dramatic video footage captures the middle-aged woman flouting the warnings by getting out of the car, and she was killed instantly after she followed the younger woman out of the car at the Badaling Wildlife World, near the Great Wall of China.  Both had ignored repeated warnings to stay inside the vehicle, according to local media.

Mountain climber tragically dies after falling more than 2,400 feet while leading a group on a canyon descent at Grand Teton

Mountain climber and guide Gary Falk, a husband and father-of-two died after falling more than 2400 feet.  The experienced guide was leading a group into a canyon at Grand Teton National Park.   

May they all rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:59 PM | Permalink

July 17, 2016

The daily work of a hospice nurse

The daily work of a hospice nurse, who treats the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs of people at the most vulnerable point of their lives,  A Tender Hand in the Presence of Death by Larissa MacFarquhar in The New Yorker.

Heather Meyerend is a hospice nurse who works in several neighborhoods in South Brooklyn—Sheepshead Bay, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge. She usually has between sixteen and twenty patients, and visits each at home once a week, sometimes more. Some patients die within days of her meeting them, but others she gets to know well, over many months. She sees her work as preparing a patient for the voyage he is about to take, and accompanying him partway down the road. She, like most hospice workers, feels that it is a privilege to spend time with the dying, to be allowed into a person’s life and a family’s life when they are at their rawest and most vulnerable, and when they most need help. Some hospice workers believe that working with the dying is the closest you can get on earth to the presence of God.

 Heather Macfarquhar Hospice Nurse

Heather sits with Florence, who was 100 years old when this photograph was taken. Whenever Heather enters a patient’s home for the first time, she knows that she is walking into a long, long, complicated story that she understands nothing about, a story that is just then reaching its final crisis.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:51 PM | Permalink

July 15, 2016

Death by Selfie

Colleen Burns, 35, was hiking with friends in the Grand Canyon along the South Kaibab Trail when she tripped and fell 400 feet to her death.

Burns was taking photographs at the scenic point of Ooh Aah Point, a famous landmark along the South Kaibab Trail where hikers are known to catch the sunrise.  'She was stepping out of the way for another gentleman to kind of squeeze in, and unfortunately, Colleen kind of got tripped up on her own feet and fell backwards, fell into the canyon,' her friend Jessica Roman said.

 Colleen Burns 35 Posted Photographs To Her Instagram Account Pic-M-21 1468294747698
Colleen Burns, 35, posted photographs to her Instagram account (pictured) admiring the view at Grand Canyon in Arizona before she tripped and fell from the South Kaibab Trail. She captioned this photo: 'That view tho'

Tourists plunge to their deaths in Peru while trying to take photos

Two travelers reportedly died in different instances in Peru recently while standing too close to the cliff ledge when posing for a photo. Last week, a 51-year-old man died when losing his balance at the edge of a cliff at Machu Picchu, in an area closed off to the public. He fell 130 feet. Prior to that, a South Korean tourist fell in northern Peru while taking a selfie at the Gocta waterfall, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world. He plunged more than 1,600 feet.

There have been dozens of deaths related to tourists taking selfies in recent years, according to Condé Nast research. Last year, Condé Nast Traveler pointed out that the selfie now claims more lives than shark attacks -- and that’s just the widely-reported cases involving tourism.

Wikipedia's List of selfie-related injuries and deaths.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:38 PM | Permalink

July 1, 2016

No Way to Go

When 2-year-old Lane Graves was snatched by an alligator while wading in a lagoon at Walt Disney Resort in full view of his vacationing parents from Nebraska, the entire country was horrified and mesmerized by the story. The boy's father had run into the water and tried to wrestle him away from the gator's clutches to no avail.  More than 50 people worked overnight and nearly all day before they found the boy's body 17 hours later.  It was the stuff of parents' nightmares.

Bizarre and strange deaths happen every day.

My daughter died from a kiss

Montreal woman died from allergic shock after smooching peanut-eating boyfriend.  Myriam Ducre-Lemay, 20, had recently met the boy when she went to his house to spend the night after a party in 2012, her mother said.  After the boyfriend ate a peanut butter sandwich for a late-night snack, he returned to the bedroom and gave Myriam the fatal kiss.  The boy did not tell her he had eaten peanuts, and he wasn't aware of her life-threatening allergy. After realizing Myriam was having an allergic shock, the young couple called 911. Paramedics arrived within minutes and transported her to hospital, but the young woman's life could not be saved.

Man, 23, dies after wandering off designated trail at Yellowstone and falling into an acidic hot spring that dissolved his entire body

Colin Nathaniel Scott, 23, died on Tuesday after tripping and falling into a hot spring at Yellowstone National Park in Montana.  The Portland, Oregon man died after wandering off the designated trail with his sister Sable. Recovery efforts were called off with authorities saying there were no remains due to the acidic nature of the spring where
temperatures exceeding 400 degrees were measured in a recent survey. Scott who recently graduated summa cum laude from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, was planning to begin a doctorate program in psychology in the fall

Woman killed by Umbrella at windy Virginia Beach

A 55-year-old woman was killed Wednesday after being struck by a wind-tossed beach umbrella which "struck her in the torso", officials said.

'Australia's fittest woman', 32, dies in her sleep after 'noticing a pain in her side'

A female bodybuilder described as one of the healthiest and fittest women in Australia has died mysteriously in her sleep.
Andy Page, from Queensland's Gold Coast, posted on social media just hours before her death that she was excited about her next workout and shared a recipe for her 'lean' protein breakfast. 'Breakfast on the run... Got the nutrients all sorted for a leg workout,' she said on Instagram to her 7,500-plus followers on Saturday.

Naked hospital worker dies of a heart attack watching porn on his laptop

A colleague found him naked beside his laptop which had a porn website open on it.

Boy, 15, killed when a 'distracted' Highway Patrol officer looked down at his computer and caused a four-car pile-up

A 15-year-old teenager was tragically killed when a California Highway Patrol officer became distracted by his computer and rear-ended the vehicle in front of him, causing a four-car pile-up.  Weston Sites, 15, was riding in the backseat of the car with two friends as the Willows High School students made their way to a coffee shop to ask for help with a fundraiser. The CHP officer was driving his patrol vehicle on Interstate 5 just before 3.30pm on Wednesday when he looked down at his computer, failing to notice that traffic was coming to a stop at a construction zone.

80-year-old kills 81-year-old by graves

Edward Acquisto had taken out a "significant" loan in 2011 from a church in Kingston, Massachusetts. Police say parishioner John Cloud met him June 13 in Pocasset Hill Cemetery to discuss it, and Acquisto shot him to death among the gravestones. Acquisto later led police on a car chase before officers fatally shot him.

Boy, 10, is killed in a freak camping accident when a tree branch is struck by lightning, sending it crashing onto his family's tent

The youngster, Blaike P. Glassburn, from Mishawaka, was with his mom and two brothers at an Indiana Beach campground when things suddenly turned tragic on Tuesday morning as a thunderstorm passed through the area. The wild weather dislodged a loose portion of a tree, which saw it ending up on top of the tent below.

Two Americans killed after a massive wave swept them from a Mexico beach while they were on vacation

Nancy and Richard Culpepper were just walking on the beach when the wave engulfed them.

A Chicago 'gang member', 28, unwittingly streams his own shooting death on Facebook

Antonio Perkins, 28, is seen in the video looking around before shots ring out. The final images seen in the video are of bloody grass before a black screen - but the screams of friends and onlookers continue for minutes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:28 PM | Permalink

Remembering a dissident

Jamie Glazov offers a tribute to his father  - who passed away 17 years ago - for his courageous battle against the Soviet Empire  Remembering a Dissident

One day, when I was nine years old, my father and I were on our way to Church. As we neared the entrance, I spat on the ground. Reflexively, my dad’s arm shot out across my chest like a railway barrier, blocking my motion forward. We stood there, frozen in time, for some three seconds until my father uttered, in a very serious but patient way: “It is ok to spit outside of KGB headquarters, but never in front of a place such as this.” I registered the message and indicated my understanding — and we proceeded on our way.

That was my dad’s moral clarity and sharp, quick-witted way with words; and the sacred values that spawned those words made a profound impression on me from the moment of my birth. I was born into a family of Russian dissidents — a father and a mother, Yuri and Marina Glazov, who put their clenched fists up and went toe-to-toe with the Evil Empire.
My father was a scholar at the Soviet Academy of Sciences and a professor at Moscow State University. His main field of study concerned Oriental languages and cultures, with a specialty in the Chinese, Sanskrit and Tamil areas. Despite his rewarding career, my dad put everything on the line and began to attend human rights demonstrations in Moscow on behalf of political prisoners. He also started to sign letters of protest against the political repressions that were heightening in the country in the 1960s, connected as they were to the re-Stalinization of the Soviet Union after the Khrushchev thaw. The activities my dad engaged in could land a Soviet citizen in the gulag or a psychiatric hospital for decades.

 Yuri Glasov

The picture of my dad, shown above, was taken by a friend who had come to visit him the evening of the day he was expelled from the Academy. My father had been at a meeting at the closed section of the Supreme Soviet of Scholars. Before the committee announced his expulsion, he had delivered a strong speech about political repressions in the country and finished by talking about his hope that the days of freedom would one day come to his beloved Russia.

After his expulsion, my father received a labor card with a special secret code that meant that he was blacklisted and could not receive employment anywhere in the country. He even tried to get a job cleaning streets, but was refused once an employer saw the poisoned markings. In a Soviet Catch-22, because of his “unemployment,” the KGB began to persecute my father for “parasitism” — a law in the Soviet Union that criminalized unemployed people and subsequently shipped them off to labor camps in Siberia.

Under these circumstances, my dad’s health broke down. He became very sick, came down with sepsis (blood poisoning) and was hospitalized. The Communist Party was as cold and unforgiving as the Siberian winter, and the KGB sharks waited for him to either die or to arrive home from his sickbed, upon which they would continue their persecution of him. Because of very brave friends like Dr. Anna Marshak who provided Western medication to my father, he survived. His sickness and several other developments threw the unfolding narrative down a different path....

Upon hearing this, my dad knew the KGB was going for the jugular and that he only had one hand left to play. He immediately sent a letter to the Department for Exit Visas in which he said: give me a job or let me out of the country. Shortly afterwards, in April 1972, before Nixon’s visit to Moscow — and perhaps because of that visit — my father received the Exit Visa to emigrate from the Soviet Union. In escaping the Soviet hell, he was able to bring his family (my mom, my sister Elena, my brother Grisha and me) to the West.....

My father never stopped fighting the Soviet system and the murderous, anti-human ideology that spawned it. He never fell into silence about the genocide and monstrous oppression communism engendered everywhere it set foot. He was always outspoken on behalf of political prisoners that languished in communist gulags around the world....

When my dad arrived in the U.S. via Italy, he first taught at New York University and then at Boston College as Professor of Russian Studies. He then moved to Canada in 1975 to teach at the Department of Russian Studies at Dalhousie University. He loved to teach Fyodor Dostoevsky and the history of Russian ideas.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:06 PM | Permalink

Awarded the Legion of Merit at her funeral for her work as a secret spy

Groundbreaking female spy finally gets Legion of Merit on the day of her funeral for her services in WWII

For nearly six decades, she was the wife of a famed military aviator. Nobody - not even close family - knew she was a hero in her own right, a spy who reported on Soviet troop movements from behind what came to be called the Iron Curtain.  Now Stephanie Czech Rader is finally being recognized for her work.  Rader received the Legion of Merit posthumously on Wednesday, during funeral services with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery.
 Funeral Stephanie Rader
She died in January at the age of 100, a longtime resident of Alexandria and native of Poughkeepsie, New York.

 Stephanie Radar
Rader worked for the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA.  The daughter of Polish immigrants, her fluent Polish caught the attention of the OSS. The office recruited her from her job with the Women's Auxiliary Air Corps and put her in Poland from October 1945 to February 1946.  She was employed as a clerk at the U.S. embassy in Warsaw, but her real job was to report on Soviet troop movements.

She traveled the countryside on her own and while her bosses offered her a gun for protection, she refused it, saying 'What was I going to do with a dumb gun?', according to Charles Pinck, president of The OSS Society in Falls Church.
Her bosses recommended her for the Legion of Merit in 1946, but the recommendation was never acted upon — perhaps because she was a woman, and perhaps because the OSS soon dissolved and there was no organization to advocate for her.
Pinck said OSS was ahead of its time in employing women. About a third of the 13,000 people who served in the OSS were women, he said. He estimated that OSS veterans still alive number only in the hundreds now. In 2008, when records of the OSS were declassified, The OSS Society and other historians learned of Rader's work and began to lobby for her to receive the award.
Rader served in the OSS under her maiden name, Stephanie Czech, but went on to marry William S. Rader, a decorated World War II bombing commander who became an Air Force brigadier general and himself received the Legion of Merit.  They had been married for 57 years when he died in 2003.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:51 PM | Permalink

Miniature Memento Moris

In the 16th Century, the Best Office Decor was a Tiny Rotting Corpse

There are many additions you can make to your office desk in order to remind yourself to stay motivated, seize the day, and make every minute count. A mini zen garden or framed motivational quote, for instance; ....or a 16th-century statuette of a rotting corpse.


A 16th-century memento mori attributed to Hans Leinberger. (Photo: The Walters Art Museum/Creative Commons)

The wooden carving above, sculpted by German artist Hans Leinberger in the 1520s, is a memento mori—a reminder of human mortality designed to keep its owner humble, focused, and untethered to worldly possessions....the corpse in Leinberger's sculpture clutches a scroll with a Latin inscription that translates to "I am what you will be. I was what you are. For every man is this so."

 Transi Mini Memento Mori-1

The Transi of René de Chalon. (Photo: H. Zell/)

One of the more striking full-sized memento moris of the era is the statue of René de Chalon, a French prince who died at 25 in the 1544 siege of Saint-Dizier. Known as a transi—for its depiction of human transience—the sculpture shows the prince's desiccated corpse holding his own heart aloft.

The wooden carving below, which was created in 19th-century Italy, shows a woman's head with half her skull exposed. Note the baby snake wrapped around her mandible. Note also that despite the facial decay, her ruffled collar and lace cap are perfectly intact.

 2Mini Memento Mori-1

A 19th-century Italian memento mori. (Photo: Wellcome Library, London)

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:39 PM | Permalink