January 31, 2017

"They lost all sense of time, with memories flying back at them from all periods of their life."

Your life really does flash before your eyes before you die, study suggests with the parts of the brain that store memories last to be affected as other functions fail.

Research on those who have had "near death" experiences suggests that the phenomenon rarely involves flashbacks in chronological order, as happens in Hollywood films.  Participants said that there was rarely any order to their life memories and that they seemed to come at random, and sometimes simultaneously. Often, the mind played tricks - with people reliving their own experiences from the point of view of others who had been involved. The study found that many of the flashbacks involved intensely emotional moments....Those involved in  the study said they lost all sense of time, with memories flying  back at them from all periods of their life.

Researchers from Hadassah University in Jerusalem analyzed seven accounts of such experiences, obtained from in-depth interviews. These were to devise a questionnaire which was sent out to 264 other people who gave detailed responses of their experiences.

One wrote:  "There is not a linear progression, there is lack of time limits... It was like being there for centuries. I was not in time/space so this question also feels impossible to answer. A moment, and a thousand years... both and neither. It all happened at once, or some experiences within my near-death experience were going on at the same time as others, though my human mind separates them into different events".

Another common feature were extremely emotional experiences - often from somebody else's point of view. One respondent said: "I could individually go into each person and I could feel the pain that they had in their life... "I was allowed to see that part of them and feel for myself what they felt".

Another said: 'I was seeing, feeling these things about him (my father), and he was sharing with me the things of his early childhood and how things were difficult for him'. Every person in the study said they were left with a new perspective  on their  life  events and on significant people in their lives. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:08 PM | Permalink

Hidden in plain sight

Alexander the Great's last will and testament may have been found 'hiding in plain sight' 2,000 years after his death

The fabled last will and testament of Alexander the Great may have finally been discovered more than 2,000 years after his death. A London-based expert claims to have unearthed the Macedonian king's dying wishes in an ancient text that has been 'hiding in plain sight' for centuries.  The long-dismissed last will divulges Alexander's plans for the future of the Greek-Persian empire he ruled.  It also reveals his burial wishes and discloses the beneficiaries to his vast fortune and power.

 Alexander The-Great Will

Evidence for the lost will can be found in an ancient manuscript known as the 'Alexander Romance', a book of fables covering Alexander's mythical exploits.  Likely compiled during the century after Alexander's death, the fables contain invaluable historical fragments about Alexander's campaigns in the Persian Empire. 

Alexander the Great is arguably one of history's most successful military commanders. Undefeated in battle, he had carved out a vast empire stretching from Macedonia and Greece in Europe, to Persia, Egypt and even parts of northern India by the time of his death aged 32

Historians have long believed that the last chapter of the Romance housed a political pamphlet that contained Alexander's will, but until now have dismissed it as a work of early fiction. But a ten-year research project undertaken by Alexander expert David Grant suggests otherwise.  The comprehensive study concludes that the will was based upon the genuine article, though it was skewed for political effect.

He believes that Alexander's original will was suppressed by his most powerful generals, because it named his then unborn half-Asian son Alexander IV and elder son Heracles as his successors.  Rather than accepting the leadership of what the Macedonians saw as 'half-breed' sons, which would have been 'unthinkable', they fought each other for power in a bloody period of infighting and civil war known as the 'Successor Wars'.

The revelation is detailed in Mr Grant's new book, 'In Search of the Lost Testament of Alexander the Great.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink

January 27, 2017

The Grieving Horse Sereno

Cowboy Dies Suddenly, Then His Grieving Horse Smells His Casket And Breaks Down


After 34-year-old Wagner Lima died suddenly on New Year's Day in a motorcycle accident, dozens of family members and friends attended the Paraguayan cowboy's funeral.  Among those grieving was Sereno, Wagner's beloved horse and best friend. 

You can watch the touching video at the link above.

Another report from the London Sun

THIS is the moment a horse showed a remarkable sense of loss as it neighed at the funeral of its owner, shocking family and friends as it appeared to bid him an emotional goodbye.

The creature added to mourners’ amazement when, at one stage, it laid its head on the coffin of its cowboy owner, Wagner de Lima Figueiredo, 34, and sighed as if it was crying....

Sereno the horse was taken to the funeral by Wagner’s brother, Wando de Lima, on Tuesday in Paraiba, north east Brazil. Mr de Lima said: “This horse was everything to [Wagner], it was as if the horse knew what was happening and wanted to say goodbye. All the way to the cemetery he was whimpering and stomping on the ground.”

And the Mirror

His brother said: “Wagner’s life was this horse. He had a passion and a great love for him. Sometimes he would even stop buying things for himself to make sure he could afford to buy horse feed.” He added that many people had offered to buy the white stallion but “(Wagner) always refused to sell him.”

With the death of his brother, Mr de Lima vowed to take on the responsibility of maintaining and caring for Sereno. He said: “Wagner will stay with our family forever.”

According to Marcelo Servos, a veterinarian with the Brazilian Horse Riding Federation, who has been caring for horses for 20 years, a horse can be aware of and mourn a loved one’s death.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:28 PM | Permalink

"The surgeons needed bodies to dissect, and out-of-work men knew just where to find them: cemeteries, of course. "

For a fast education in grave robbery, you can't beat A Beginner's Guide to Body Snatching  by Molly McBride Jacobson.

Say it’s 1820 and you’re an uneducated, lower-class chap with nights and weekends free who needs to pick up a few extra quid. You might consider the profitable, if criminal, profession of body snatching.

In the early days of surgery, dissecting a corpse was seen as a heinous defilement of the body, akin to cannibalism in its vulgarity. But the growing field of surgical science demanded bodies for study. The gallows were the only place surgeons could get cadavers. Executed criminals were fair game to slice and dice, as were suicide victims, but not regular law-abiding corpses. Even in the crime-riddled streets of London and Edinburgh, there weren’t enough bodies to train the new classes of young surgeons in the growing field.

So intrepid anatomists determined to educate their students would hire a body snatcher. It was a simple case of supply and demand. The surgeons needed bodies to dissect, and out-of-work men knew just where to find them: cemeteries, of course.

...St. Thomas’ and St. Bartholomew’s reputable hospitals, whose body purchases were done on the sly. Their operating surgeons would meet the grave robbers in back doors and alleyways to buy the stolen corpses in the wee hours of night. The operating theatres at St. Thomas and St. Bart’s, where stolen cadavers would have been dissected for anatomy lectures, now operate museums dedicated to this crime-enabled medical history.....

it wasn’t until the infamous Anatomy Murders that grave robbers were labeled as a public menace that had to be stopped. The Surgeons' Hall Museum in Edinburgh houses an exhibit on Edinburgh’s criminal duo Burke and Hare who became infamous  when instead of simply digging up corpses to sell to the Royal College of Surgeons, they began killing, to manufacture their own corpses. They sold over 15 of these corpses to the college before they were discovered. After turning King’s evidence, Hare was released, but Burke was hung, dissected, and a book was bound from his skin. Burke’s death mask and the book bound from his skin can all be found at the History of Surgery Museum.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:54 PM | Permalink

January 12, 2017

Skull smuggling, bunny tombstone, 'vampire' burials and funeral pole dancers

Mexican Cartels Using Artisanal Skulls for Smuggling into UK

Thousands of art pieces are shipped out of Mexico each year to buyers worldwide who seek their unique designs and colors. This art niche is now being used by Mexican cartels to hide drug packages in quartz and ceramic skulls or other sculptures to avoid customs inspections.  This art niche is now being used by Mexican cartels to hide drug packages in quartz and ceramic skulls or other sculptures to avoid customs inspections.


Found: The Tiny, Century-Old Headstone of a Pet Bunny

 Bunny Tombstone

Out walking in the woods in Sussex, England, Sid Saunders came across a headstone for a pet rabbit...

He said: “It says on there ‘In memory of the little Duchie’,  Sid says he wants to do some research in a bid to find out more about the family who left this tiny headstone behind.returned to the site recently to once again clean up the tiny headstone. “It’s something for this 73-year-old man to keep his brain active.”

'Vampire' Burials Uncovered in Poland

The skeletons have holes in the spine, most likely from someone nailing the bodies into the ground.
 Hole In Spine Vampire Burial
Polish archaeologists have uncovered the medieval remains of three "vampires" — individuals whose bodies were mutilated before interment to physically prevent any attempts to rise from the grave.  Dating to the 13th and 14th centuries, the deviant burials were unearthed in the village Górzyca in western Poland near a former bishop's residence. A Gothic cathedral once stood somewhere near the graves,

50 pole dancers escort Taiwan politician's funeral procession

These aren't your grandfather's pall bearers.  In the funeral procession of former Chiayi City county council speaker Tung Hsiang in Chiayi City, southern Taiwan were 50 pole dancers standing atop multicolored Jeeps.  Tung's son said his father appeared in a dream and told him he wanted his memorial to be "hilarious" and so it was according to one spectator.

Earlier this year on the China Policy Institute website, anthropologist Marc Moskowitz, a professor at the University of South Carolina, wrote, "The stripping performances started out as something that gangsters did, but generally spread out to become common practice throughout Taiwan. They are primarily associated with the working class or poorer communities."  It's now illegal to have full nudity at funerals, according to Moskowitz.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:44 PM | Permalink

"In the end, they give us their deaths quite as much as their works, and that is why they are so passionately mourned"

Kathy Shadie writes ‘Extravagant mourning for celebrity musicians is a way to confront our own mortality’

That is what the lives of celebrities provide, quite as much as their work, and that is part of why they are mourned. They collaborate with their audience to make engrossing worlds that neither party quite comprehends, but both know they need. Although this may be one of the things replacing traditional religion, it only works because it does not seem “religious”, moralistic, or cut off from the world around it. It sanctifies, or makes vivid and valuable, the ordinary things of life.
If that were all celebrity culture does, it would be far less powerful. Consolation and even joy can come from many places in life. What has made these deaths so important to so many people is that they provide an occasion for grief as well. The performance in which the musician and their fans are caught up is ultimately one of tragedy. There is loss and grief in every life, and the death of a beloved singer provides a chance to express this sorrow in gestures more powerful than words could be. In the end, they give us their deaths quite as much as their works, and that is why they are so passionately mourned.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:39 PM | Permalink

Bizarre deaths

Boy, 13, dies after getting buried in a massive snowbank while digging a fort with friends just hours after his grandmother died

13-year-old boy, Joshua J. Demarest died after getting trapped while playing in the snow with a friend.  He had been building a fort with his friend, Tyler Day, when they got stuck.  Police say a truck clearing the snow accidentally caused the fort to collapse
investigators believe a truck dumped more snow or bumped into the fort while the boys were inside, collapsing it on top of them. Day told officials he survived because he was had a pocket of air where he was.

Two hours after being reported missing, police officers found the two boys with the help of a K9 unit, and desperately shoveled about seven tons of snow in just 10 minutes to reach them. Responders unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate him at the scene, before he was rushed to Saratoga Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Suicide streamed online

Girl, 12, streams her own suicide on social media for 20 minutes after being ‘sexually abused by a relative’ – and cops are powerless to take it down.  Cops say they have asked websites to remove the video of Katelyn Nicole Davis's death but admit they are unable to do more. In the video, Katelyn Nicole Davis claims she was physically and sexually abused by a relative then lets the camera roll as she hangs herself in her back garden. Katelyn, a student at Cedartown Middle School in Polk County, Georgia, US, broadcast it on social media on December 30 but it was later removed from her page. It was later posted on other websites, including Facebook.

In December, at a dinner party streamed live on Facebook, Banker’s assistant ‘accidentally shoots his friend dead’ while messing around with a handgun.  Steven Leannais, 30, was charged with manslaughter following the fatal shooting of his friend Anthony Stanford II.

Mother of two dies after falling into a vat of molten CHOCOLATE at a Russian sweet factory

Svetlana Roslina, 24, died at the Sergiev-Posad confectionery plant in Fedortsovo.  Some say she dropped her mobile phone into the vat of sweet mix and reached in to retrieve it, but fell, and couldn't get out.  Another version is that she fell in while emptying a sack of ingredients into the giant mixer. Still others say the girl was dragged in when she was trying to empty a sack into the mixer

'She was minced, only her legs were left,' said one local source at the Sergiev-Posad confectionery plant in Fedortsovo, Moscow region.  A police investigation is underway into the tragedy

Whatever happened, she leaves behind her husband and two young children aged under five.  May they all rest in peace.  May their families be consoled.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:25 PM | Permalink

January 4, 2017

“I haven’t left you, partner. I’m right here.”

Kasey Cordell wrote one of the moving stories I've read in the past year.  Final Post: One Local Veteran's New Mission

Julian Scadden who volunteers his time to ensure no Denver veteran dies alone, is one of great souls among us who work unnoticed and unremarked.

 Julian Scadden

The maple trees outside Room 143 have just begun to blossom, but the lieutenant, separated from them by just a few feet and less than an inch of glass, can’t see the tiny buds and leaves unfurling. His eyes are open but clouded. “I haven’t left you, partner,” Julian says, approaching the bed. He carries a cool washcloth and gently pats the lieutenant’s forehead. “I’m right here.”

There’s a peculiar odor in the room, the scent of strong coffee (Julian’s: black, no sugar) and antiseptics blending with the sickly sweet smell of sweat and soiled linens. Julian doesn’t notice. That’s in part because of his own bouquet; he’s been here since yesterday. He came—as he always does—when the nurses called and said the lieutenant was close. No matter that it was evening. No matter that Julian had worked all day at the VA hospital next door, cleaning floors and toilets and emptying rooms of the ugliness that comes with illness. When the call came, he showered and drove the seven miles from his Aurora home back to the Community Living Center. All through the night he sat with the lieutenant, watching him seize, watching him fight to breathe, watching him struggle and win, and then watching him do it all again. Julian took a nap in his truck at 3 a.m. At 4:30 he said goodbye and went to work. Eight hours later, he’s back in Room 143. He’s shaken out his ponytail so his wavy gray hair flows down over his Home of the Brave T-shirt. He wants fresh clothes and a shower to wash off the smell of the day. He can’t stand feeling grimy.

But he’ll go without another night because the lieutenant needs him. Because this is what Julian does: He sits at the doorway to death, ushering his brothers through whatever portal separates us from the world we know and the uncertainty that comes next. No matter what time or what day, he’s here. Patting, soothing, cooing. No, the smell doesn’t bother Julian. He’s breathed it in some 200 times before.


In the military, and in war, soldiers learn and live by this solemn oath: No man left behind. And to Julian, that goes for the dying, too. “We promised them,” Julian says. “No man dies alone.”

Photography by Patrick Andrade

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 PM | Permalink

"We humans can live with a broken heart; and we can live with a shaken faith; but we cannot live with a corpse on the floor.”

Thomas Lynch, an American poet and undertaker reviews "The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains" in The Weight of Bodies.

“Why?” a priest asked me years ago, “Why is it they always call you first?” I was calling to set the time of a funeral for the coming Saturday, which would further beset a churchman’s schedule already stuffed with duties and detail.  ....“Well, Father,” I told him, “it’s because we answer the phone.” And it was and remains so: the 3 a.m. phone call most likely to be answered is not to the church, the therapist, the bank or insurance company, the accountant or doctor—each of them buffered by business hours and answering machines. The “first call,” as we undertakers call it, is reliably answered at the funeral home, where someone who knows what to do is up and waiting, or sleeping with an ear cocked to the call for help when someone dies.

And why is that?” the good priest continued.

“Because, Father”—and you can try this at home—“we humans can live with a broken heart; and we can live with a shaken faith; but we cannot live with a corpse on the floor.” 

In the early going we do not need liturgy or sympathy or therapy or pharmacy so much as we need someone to help with the heavy lift: to get the dead off the floor and out the door, whether from the E.R., the O.R., the ICU or hospice ward, kitchen or bedroom, bathroom or backyard. 

The work of the dead falls first to the living—the shoulder and shovel work required to get the dead where they need to go because only by the honorable completion of these tasks do the living get where they need to be. 
More and more, our funeral customs treat the corpse like a nuisance to be disposed of with dispatch rather than sacred remains to be borne on its journey “home.” In a book, co-authored with the theologian Thomas G. Long (The Good Funeral, 2013) this reviewer argues that the fashionably ubiquitous “celebration of life,” which has increasingly replaced the requiem and obsequy, is notable for its dismissal of the corpse, in trade for uplifting music, hobby-themed memorial knick-knackery (the golfer, the gardener, the biker, or bowler), Hallmarky theology, and no real work because the corpse is notably nowhere to be found. It is the mortuary equivalent of a baptism without the baby or nuptials without a bride or groom. The modern funeral cannot bear the incarnate, according to Long, because we have “lost our eschatological nerve.”
The Work of the Dead is nothing if not a history of how the churchyard gave way to the public cemetery, which in turn is giving way to the crematory, which has, not incidentally, no clerical gatekeeper. If the church wants to reassert its place in the care and disposition of the dead, it must boldly declare that a faith whose claims are based on an empty tomb ought to reacquaint itself with the weight, the gravity, of bodies. 
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 AM | Permalink

Overcome by guilt and grief, he exhumed his wife's grave for one, last kiss

The Death Mask of Gabrielle Danton

The people's champion of the French Revolution was so overcome by grief at his wife's death he exhumed her in the dead of night to make one final replica of her face.

 Antoinette-Garbielle Charpentier--Claude-André Deseine Img 2306

George-Jacques’s wife Antoinette Gabrielle Danton died in labor on the 10th of February, 1793, along with the infant son that would have been the couple’s fourth child. Her rebel husband was away in Belgium at the time, on a military observation mission for the Revolutionary Government. The widower did not hear of his wife’s death until five days after the fact.

In the few years leading up to her death, George-Jacques had neglected his wife in favor of mistresses. Yet contemporary accounts report that he flew into a terrible, violent grief and immediately ordered a coach back to Paris.....

“Through his tears, a solution formed: he would make a likeness of her, a bust he could for ever embrace and ask for forgiveness.  The next evening he hurried to see a sculptor he knew, an artist with a workshop in the Saint-Marcel section.  The sculptor shook his head. Madame Danton had been dead for a week, he reminded his frantic visitor, in her grave for three days past.” From there Danton and the sculptor preceded to the graveyard, where the most powerful man in Paris bullied his way in. Several biographies report that after they grave was dug up, Danton forced the casket open and embraced his dead wife, possibly kissing her, before the sculptor went to work forming the mold for her death mask.

The mask was completed in short order, and bore a striking resemblance to the late Madame Danton. Unfortunately George-Jacques was unable to enjoy it for long. He was executed when revolutionaries turned against him during the Terror just over a year later, under suspicion of corruption.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:19 AM | Permalink

Crossword tombstone

Bean Puzzle Tombstone It took over 100 years to decode this enigmatic epitaph for two buried brides.

In rural Rushes Cemetery, Wellesley, Canada,  one headstone stands out from the rest. Rather than the usual RIP, the Bean grave marker is etched with a crossword code. A message below the code urges, “Reader meet us in heaven.”

 Bean Puzzle Tombstone

Dr. Samuel Bean’s first wife, Henrietta, died just seven months after the two were married. His second wife, Susanna, also met her untimely end after only a few months of marital bliss. Bean buried his two loves side by side, erected the mysterious tombstone above them and didn’t tell a soul what it meant. He took that secret to his watery grave when he was lost overboard from a boat heading to Cuba.

In the 1970s a 94-year-old woman solved the code and told what Dr. Bean had written for his two wives ....
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink

Protection Against 'Digital Resurrection"

Actors now seeking posthumous protections from digital resurrection

As I noted in my review of Rogue One, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film was the digital return of Peter Cushing in the role of Grand Moff Tarkin, despite his 1994 death.

In the wake of Carrie Fisher’s sudden death, speculation is that this technique could allow the character of Princess Leia to continue despite the loss of the talented actress.....

The possibilities have launched a move by celebrities to protect their images from beyond the grave....

Robin Williams, who died over 2 years ago, was among the first to foresee these possibilities....
Robin Williams, who committed suicide in 2014, banned any use of his image for commercial means until 2039, according to court documents. He also blocked anyone from digitally inserting him into a movie or TV scene or using a hologram, as was done with rapper Tupac Shakur at Southern California’s Coachella music festival in 2012 – 16 years after his murder.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 AM | Permalink



Mortsafes were contraptions designed to prevent grave-robbing.  Invented around 1816 to deter grave robbers whose lucrative trade supplied medical schools with fresh corpses so that its students could study human anatomy.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink