Archive of ‘ars moriendi’ category

Links of the dead {February 2016}

Life preserving coffin in doubtful cases of actual dead

Life preserving Eisenbrandt coffin in doubtful cases of actual death

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

Previous installments:
Links of the dead for January 2016
Links of the dead for December 2015
Links of the dead for November 2015
Links of the dead for September 2015
Links of the dead for August 2015

Oh For Goodness Sake – Stand At My Grave and Weep Already!

Coffins, Crape, and Other Victorian Omens of Death

The Wills Party

4 Ways To Think Outside The Box When Honoring A Loved One

A touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.

How to Transform Our Discomfort Around Death and Loss

Necrophiliacs Are People, Too: New Book Humanizes This Misunderstood Taboo

The living paths of the dead

The ‘Funeral Clothes Project’

5 books explore the ways that we are shaped by the knowledge of our mortality

Mysteries of Vernacular: Hearse

The Rebozo: Fashion, Feminism and Death

Our Strange, Unsettled History of Mourning

The Role of Death in Finding Meaning in Life

aromatherapy for grief & loss

Facing Mortality Through A Lens

The Science of Life and Death in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

A Year In Fragrance: Tea Rose

mama

My mother was a complicated piece of business.  That reads more harsh than what I meant to write, and I am feeling kindly disposed this morning, so perhaps I will amend that to say that my feelings about my mother are the real complications here.

When I was eleven years old, I couldn’t fathom saying such a thing.  My mother was this amazing, radiant being; she was like unto God.  I don’t know what, precisely, I based this upon – perhaps nothing at all save a daughter’s faith and devotion that was as yet untested. 20 cats?  That’s ok, I loved cats!  My mom didn’t drive? No problem, my grandma took us everywhere that we needed to go! No money? Ah, we were happy and well-cared for, who needs money? I recall gazing at her, one evening, rapt, and exclaiming “I can’t imagine ever having a fight with you, mom!” She smiled enigmatically, knowing better.

(When I grew much older and had to divest her dilapidated beach cottage of 20 sick felines and several heartbreakingly unwell dogs; when I got my driver’s license and became my mother’s chauffeur at all hours of the night; when I loaned her money time and again which would never be repaid–that is when my feelings became irreversibly complicated).

However, by the time I was fourteen years old, they were certainly going through some complex changes.  My beautiful, brilliant mother was, without a doubt, a raging alcoholic.

I think I have blocked out much of my home-life during my teenage years at this time; I recall going to school, I remember spending time with my boyfriend, I can re-live just about every single moment I ever spent at my first job…but there’s not much I remember about my mother, save surreal flashes of trauma here and there. A Thanksgiving morning when our refrigerator broke down; the kitchen flooded, she had a meltdown and subsequently entered rehab for the first time.  3am early mornings when she cornered my sister and I in a bedroom while she ranted and raged for hours about god knows what, while terrified and confused, we wondered how we would function at school the next day.  My senior year of high school when she disappeared for two weeks entirely. These things.

The one thing I can unfailingly conjure up now, twenty years from now, perhaps even on my deathbed, is her scent: Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose.

A scent upon which my grandmother would often remark in disgust “You smell like a funeral parlour!” Tea Rose permeated the fabric of my mother’s clothes and floated around her from room to room in a fragrant cloud. My mother wore exotic, jingling belled anklets which would tinkle and announce her presence as she made her way throughout her home–but Tearose often loudly preceded those tiny chimes.

I purchased a bottle for myself recently, and a week later I am just now able to bring myself to slide the cellophane from the plain, somewhat retro looking brown box and remove the bottle.  I’ve been afraid to spray it, not knowing what images and memories the perfume will invoke. Not ready for the the feelings it will inevitably stir up.

Initially somewhat sour and strange, this is an incredibly potent fragrance, that opens chilly and green and bitter.  It smells less of rose petals and more, I imagine, of chilled thorns, after a frost. Prickly, biting.  Slightly metallic, like the mineral tang of blood, but without the hemic crimson associations.

If it smells like roses, these are not any roses I would wish to be familiar with.  These are not lush, inviting midsummer roses in full bloom, nor are they delicate, blushing buds.
This is more like …roses, plucked too young, brainwashed and warped and corrupted and distilled into  something astringent and spiky and cruel.  If it were a color, it would be an otherwordly emerald, facets glowing strangely, lit from within by distant, verdant starlight.

If you’re patient, though…if you wait long enough…. Let it dry. Give it time. Walk away. It then becomes just a rose. Any rose. All roses. And in it I can smell my mother’s summer cotton night gowns. I can smell the evenings she spent reading us James and the Giant Peach when we were very young. I can smell the soft, warm fur of her favorite Siamese cat.

I can smell the very best memories I have of her, and there is nothing left of the complications.

This is not to say that Tea Rose is a fragrance that I can, or want, to wear.  Although I enjoy the scent of roses, I’ve never wanted to smell like one.  Tea Rose is a bottle I will take off the shelf when I am having angry thoughts, hateful thoughts, or a bad day when I am blaming my mother’s failures for my own shortcomings.
Just a small spritz, with a light hand.
A reminder that my mother was only human, as am I.  We can only be who we are.

And a rose is, after all,  just a rose.

Links of the Dead {January 2016}

British singer David Bowie performs on stage in Brussels, on May 20, 1983. (AFP/Getty Images)

David Bowie performs on stage in Brussels, on May 20, 1983. (AFP/Getty Images)

 

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

Previous installments:
Links of the dead for December 2015
Links of the dead for November 2015
Links of the dead for September 2015
Links of the dead for August 2015

9 Reasons It Is Not Crazy To Grieve A Celebrity Death

In His Final Performance, David Bowie Embraced Death

A Paean to the Goblin King; wise words from Angeliska on stepping into the shadow of David Bowie’s death and using the righteous lessons he taught us. Do the hard work! Live with aplomb! Let your every wild facet shine.

A Young Neurosurgeon Examines the Meaning of Life as He Faces His Death

“But Harold, we begin to die as soon as we are born. What is so strange about death?”

Death and the birth of feminism

Neil DeGrasse Tyson Talks About The Beauty Of Life And Death

11 Signs You May Be Dying In A Victorian Novel

“Just Buried”–Funeral Home Weddings

Funerary Darlings: The Tradition of Child Pallbearers
The Day I’ll Finally Stop Grieving

The year my partner drowned, I bought a lobster — and set it free.

How Uganda Came To Earn High Marks For Quality Of Death

Love champagne? Thank a French widow

 

 

Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke

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My mother, my sister and I; I am feeding my sister her foot. Fuck her if she can’t take a joke.

“Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke”.

My mother would often declare this with regard to just about everything – I still don’t even precisely know when this is an appropriate tack to take, but it remains one of my favorite inner-monologue responses to this day.  It so perfectly encapsulates her attitude about life and everything attached to it.

I recall telephoning her one afternoon after a particularly rotten day at work, early on in my job, when I hadn’t quite toughened up and gotten on board with how my particular employer operated. I had been called into the office and essentially advised that I needed to make some changes or I was done there.  In a teary phone call I relayed all of this to her, and, though I didn’t ask her, the question hung in the air, over the miles between us.  What should I do?

“Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke. Just quit. You’ll find something else.”

I laughed and calmed down and the next day I went to work and did not quit. That was terrible advice.  My mother quit a lot of jobs and burned a lot of bridges and I did not want to be my mother in that respect.

Today marks two years since my mother passed and this phrase has worked its way insidiously into mine and all of my sister’s vernacular.  I suspect none of us really know what it means, but it somehow now always feels fitting.

Two years ago last night my mother called to tell me her doctor notified her that she was doing much better, the chemo was doing its job, and she was on her way to some kind of recovery. She informed me that she wanted prime rib for Christmas dinner. I was irritated because I figured she wasn’t going to show up anyway  – she often promised an appearance at family dinners and then backed out at the last minute – and then I would have made a pain-in-the-ass prime rib for nothing. I told her I would make it happen, but that she had better show up for dinner if she knew what was good for her.

This was the last conversation I was to ever have with my mother; the next day she was dead.

Fuck me if I can’t take a joke -right mom?

 

Links of the Dead {December 2015}

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Black Moon, 2015. Kristin Forbes -Mullane

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

Why A Double Funeral On Your Birthday Is The Best Party You’ll Ever Have
The Best Show for Your Grieving Child (and You)
Five surprising findings about death and dying
7 Wickedly Beautiful Coffee Table Books About Death
Facebook expands suicide prevention tools and will intervene something’s wrong
Why Dead Pets Matter
LA’s Unclaimed Dead Receive Prayers, And A Final Resting Place
Everything Dies -A Death Positive Coloring Book!
Tea and Cake and Death at Death Cafe Orlando
Giving Birth at the Age Mom Died
High school holds funeral for resident lab skeleton after discovering his bones were real
A moment that changed me – the death of my sister and the grief that followed
Post-Mortem Staging: Morbid Trend in Puerto Rico
Why Greeks are exhuming their parents
The Rise of the Artisanal Funeral
6 Modern Momento Mori for a Beautiful Mourning
‘The leftover scraps of ordinary life’ –  photographer documents late husband’s belongings
12 Loving Ways to Have a Fantastic Death
Meet the New Faces of Death over at Dirge Magazine: Sarah Troop | Bess Lovejoy | Amber Carvaly | Megan Rosenbloom | Carla Valentine

 

Previous installments:
Links of the dead for November 2015
Links of the dead for September 2015
Links of the dead for August 2015

 

 

Links of the Dead {November 2015}

Natalia Czajkiewicz

Natalia Czajkiewicz

 

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in or related to the Death Industry recently.

Self-Care for Future Corpses
Welcome to Boon Hill; A graveyard simulator
Deathly Maidens: Film maker Wesley Chambers top 5 “Death and the Maiden” films
This Rare Illness Makes People Think They’re Dead
Jon Underwood to open permanent Death Cafe in London
Where in the world is it illegal to die?
Airbnb winner spends Halloween night in the catacombs
Dia de Muertos: A Primer
What to say to someone who’s grieving vs. what they hear
Why I still want to look beautiful even though I am dying
Sarah Sudhoff’s At the hour of our death
Creative Slang Terms For Death from the past 600 years
Meet the new faces of Death at Dirge Magazine: Sarah Troop & Bess Lovejoy

Previous installments:
Links of the dead for September 2015
Links of the dead for August 2015

Ghosts of Halloween playlists past

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Halloween1

 

Things have been a bit frantic around here over the past month and I regret to inform you that I have not made a Halloween playlist for 2015. However, I think you will find plenty of sounds for haunting and the haunted in the ghost of playlists from previous years, which I have conveniently collected for you below.

Happy Halloween, weirdos!

 

2014: all of them witches from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

House Of The 7 Witches, Mater Suspiria Vision | Season Of The Witch, Karen Elson (Feat. Donovan) | Witch’s Hammer, King Dude | Burn The Witch (Featuring Clare Manchon), Uncovered Qotsa Olivier Libaux | Ghuleh / Zombie Queen, Ghost | BLIND ONE, Black Mare | Death’s Kiss, Purson | The Witching Hour, Bloody Hammers | WITCH MOUNTAIN, Witch Mountain | Sleeping Witch, Royal Thunder | Night Witches, True Widow | Witchwood, Blood Ceremony | The White Witch Of Rose Hall, Coven | Boneflower, Avatarium | Spectral Queen, Ides Of Gemini | Full Moon, Mount Salem | Hex Mark, Demon Lung | Night Child, The Oath | Wicked Ones, Ruby The Hatchet | Digital Witchcraft, thisquietarmy

2013: Was it ever, will it ever be, enough? from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Murder Of Crows, Lindi Ortega | Revolver, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan | Fields Of June, Emily Barker And Red Clay Halo featuring Frank Turner | Skeleton Crew, Michelle Vidal & The Fur Traders | Burgandy, The Hollows | Willow Tree (American), Rasputina | The First Mrs. Jones, Mark Erelli & Jeffrey Foucault | Black River Killer, Blitzen Trapper | Arkansas Murder Ballad, Angela Easterling | Old Sledge, Pretty Polly | Two Sisters, Tom Waits | Black Swells, Ora Coogan | Bury Me Tomorrow, The Dirt | Cheyenne, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club | A Beautiful Murder, Gorgeous Machines | Omie Wise, Okkervil River | Shankill Butchers, Sarah Jarosz | The Chieftains Ft Bon Iver, Down In The Willow Garden | Goose Walking Over My Grave, Jay Munly | Matty Groves, Alela Diane & Alina Hardin | Madeline, 1796, Bob Frank And John Murry | Long Black Veil, Joan Baez | Bobby, Baby, Lera Lynn | Bury Them Deep ( The Backwater Gospel ), Ghoultown | Down By The River, Deerwood | Caleb Meyer, Gillian Welch | Blood Under The Redwoods, Kat Jones | Poor Ellen Smith, Neko Case | Love Henry, Jolie Holland | Oh Death, Pine Valley Cosmonauts

 

2012: Final lessons in despair from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Dies Irae ( The Shining Theme )| Kristallnacht Shtetl (Ghetto Life), John Zorn | Uaxuctum , Part One Scelsi | Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima, Krzysztof Penderecki | Lucie’s wounds, Seppuku Paradigm (Martyrs OST)| Lux Aeterna, György Ligeti | Rectum, Thomas Bangalter (Irréversible OST) |Lascia Ch’io Pianga, Tuva Semmingsen & Barokksolistene (Antichrist OST)

2011: The horror of life and the ecstasy of life from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Tick Tock,  Jamin Winans (Ink OST) | This Is Going To Hurt, Hans Zimmer (The Ring/The Ring 2 OST) | Hellraiser Theme (Unreleased), Coil | The Funeral, Danny Elfman, (The Wolfman OST) | Promise(Reprise), Konami Kukeiha Club (Silent Hill OST) | Bloody Tears,rey187 (Castlevania) | Music Box, Philip Glass (The Candyman OST) | Suspiria, Goblin (Suspiria OST) | The Others (Instrumental), Claudio Ianni  (The Others OST) | Into The Woods / The Witch, Danny Elfman (Sleepy Hollow OST) | The Brides, Wojciech Kilar (Bram Stoker’s Dracula OST) | A Nightmare on Elm Street – Prologue / Main Title, Vitamin String Quartet | In the house In a Heartbeat, John Murphy (28 Days Later OST) | Alien (1979) – Main Title, Jerry Goldsmith (Alien OST) | Plasma Pool, Howard Shore (The Fly) | Friend?,Carter Burwell (Gods and Monsters OST)

2011: The silence after the screams from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Trio in E Flat, Franz Schubert (The Hunger) | Main Title, John Carpenter (The Fog) | Haunted, King Black Acid (The Mothman Prophecies) | Main Title, Goblin (Dawn of the Dead) | Ave Satani, Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen) | Eli’s Theme, Johan Söderqvist (Let The Right One In) | Mae’s Theme, Tangerine Dream (Near Dark) | Redemption, Panu Aaltio (Sauna/The Filth) | Main Title, Don David (House On Haunted Hill) | Le locataire, Philippe Sarde (The Tenant} | Main Title, Krzysztof Komeda (Rosemary’s Baby) | End Credits, Fernando Velazquez (El Orfanato)

2011: Until we ourselves are ghosts from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

The Stendhal Syndrome Theme, Ennio Morricone (The Stendhal Syndrome OST) | Emily Rose, Christopher Young (The Exorcism of Emily Rose OST) | Theme A La Flute De Pan, Philip D’Aram (The Films of Jean Rollin) | Grey Wolf, Joe Loduca (Brotherhood of the Wolf OST) | The Double, Clint Mansell (Black Swan OST) | A Proposal, Conrad Pope (The Presence OST)| Dr. Van Helsing and Dracula, Philip Glass and Kronos Quartet | The Tram (Main Title) Angelo Badalamenti (Dark Water OST)| Nosferatu (Cue 6), Hans Posegga | Voci Dal Nulla, Fabio Frizzi (The Beyond OST) | In the Evening Mist, Asei Kobayashi & Mickey Yoshino (Hausu OST) | A Place Where the Sun Cannot Burn, Fernando Velázquez (Shiver OST)

2011: Echoes from beyond from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Musica Ricercata, II, Dominic Harlan Dominic Harlan (Eyes Wide Shut OST) | Revelation, Seppuku Paradigram (Martyrs OST) | Transylvanian Lullaby, John Morris (Young Frankenstein) | Symphony fantastique, Op. 14: V. Songe d’une nuit de sabbat, San Francisco Symphony | Pan’s Labyrinth Lullaby, Javier Navarrete Javier Navarrete (Pan’s Labyrinth OST) | Jacob’s Ladder, Maurice Jarre (Jacob’s Ladder, OST) | L’anniversaire D’irvin, Angelo Badalamenti (City of Lost Children, OST) | Prologue-Menuetto and Storm, Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra & Alwyn (Bride of Frankenstein OST) | Artic Love, François-Eudes Chanfraul (A L’Interieur OST) | III. Marche funebre. Lento from Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Cyprien Katsaris | Dies irae, Zbigniew Preisner

2011: “Denn die Todten reiten Schnell.” from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

1 Orville Stoeber/Walter Sear (Let’s Scare Jessica to Death) | Introducing Vanessa Buren, James Bernard (From “The Legend Of The 7 Golden/The Hammer Vampire Collection) | Jack Tells a Story (Part I,) Elmer Bernstein (An American Werewolf in London) | Jack Tells a Story (Part II), Elmer Bernstein (An American Werewolf in London) | Gramophone Lullaby, Marco Beltrami (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) |  Candles for Christine, Pino Donaggio (Don’t Look Now) | Audrey Rose, Michael Small (Audrey Rose) | The Book of Evil, Joseph Lo Duca (Evil Dead 2) | You’re Just What I’ve Been Looking For (Angela’s Theme), Frankie Vinci (Sleepaway Camp) | “Ménage a Trois,” Daktari Lorenz (Nekromantik) | The Ossuary, Manuel De Sica (Cemetery Man) | The End, John Murphy (The Last House On The Left)

2010: Summoning the Gloom from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

(No tracklist for this one)

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Links of the dead

Portraits of Death by Iris Compriet

Portraits of Death by Iris Compriet

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in the Death Industry recently.

Stouffer’s Debuts  Frozen Meals To Bring Neighbors After Death In Family (via The Onion)
When Your Loved One’s Last Wish Was ‘No Funeral’ via Modern Loss
I Got Drunk With The Funeral Industry To Find Out What Happens When We Die via Buzzfeed
6 Reasons Why We Don’t Talk About Death via legacy.com
(What to wear) Upon Greeting Death via me
Dead beautiful: Cult cosmetics to glam up the afterlife via The Daily Mail
Portraits of Death:  a unique glimpse in the life of Death via Iris Compriet
If These Bones Could Talk: The Stories Human Skeletons Can Tell via NPR
Inside Out Offers Important Lessons for Grieving Children and Adults via What’s Your Grief
Why dying at home is not all it’s cracked up to be via The Caregiver Space
Six Final Resting Places for Your Loved Ones’ Ashes via Dirge Mag

(What to wear) Upon greeting Death

Richard Avedon | ‘In Memory of the Late Mr. and Mrs. Comfort’

Greet death
with your hands in your pockets,
slouched back, cool,
collected, and confident.
Wear a hint of a grin
and a dash of cologne.
Say What took you so long?
Say You’re behind the times, man.
Say Dead is the new black.
Coffin is the new condo.
Pallor is the new tan.
La vida muerta.

-“How To Greet Death“, Gabriel Gadfly (excerpt)

In Gabriel Gadfly’s How To Greet Death (one of my very favorite poems), it is suggested that in the event that you should meet your maker, wear a hint of a grin and a dash of cologne; another stanza adds in a pair of your father’s cufflinks and your mother’s wedding band.

Not bad, but I think we can do better.

Getting outfitted for the last moments of one’s life is an intensely personal business, but I think that to begin and end with every mother’s insistence of a clean pair of underwear is doing yourself a great disservice and perhaps selling yourself a bit short. If you’re indeed rendezvousing with the Grim Reaper, leave a lasting last impression as make your exodus!  Of course, do include the clean underwear, as well.

See below for a handful of ensembles to leave Death gasping and goggle-eyed as you shuffle (or skip, or meander, or leap, or whatever your manner of leave-taking may be) off this mortal coil. As always, click through the image for a complete listing of the items in each set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Links Of The Dead

Image: a bit of deathly grammar humor from artist Siobhan Gallagher.

In gearing up to host Orlando’s third Death Cafe (sometime this November, but I like to get a head start with my dread and anxiety about things), I thought I’d post a gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, here’s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about in the Death Industry recently.

Meet the Living People Who Collect Dead Human Remains
23 Unusual Ways To Die In The US In One Handy Map
Preserving tattoos after death
West Palm company wants your hologram to speak at your funeral
More people are getting married at funeral homes.
An Ice Cream Truck at the Funeral
How to Write a Condolence Note
64 Myths About Grief That Just Need To STOP
Confronting Mortality In An Unsettling, Inspiring ‘Tour Of Bones’
‘World’s first’ crypt hotel room opens in Maine
The Ascent of Female Funeral Celebrants
The Pulp Guide to Necrophilia
6 Ways to Commemorate Your Pet
Can I Travel With Cremated Remains and Other Questions About Scattering Ashes Abroad

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