Archive of ‘death and dying’ category

Links of the Dead {May 2017}

Symbiosis, Dan McCarthy

Symbiosis, Dan McCarthy

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

More reading: Links of the Dead {May 2016}

๐Ÿ’€ The 12-year-old who helps out at the family funeral home
๐Ÿ’€ Finding the plot: England’s tombstone tourists
๐Ÿ’€ In Green-Wood Cemetery, Sophie Calle Invites You to Bury Your Secrets
๐Ÿ’€ Ancient Funerary Garden Discovered in Egypt for First Time
๐Ÿ’€ When I Miss My Mom, I Put on Her Eye Cream
๐Ÿ’€ This Brooklyn couple made hard cider from Green-Wood Cemetery trees
๐Ÿ’€ ย The Director of The Human Centipede On Confrontations With Death In The Horror Genre
๐Ÿ’€ Pop Goes The Reaper! A new series on death positivity in pop culture
๐Ÿ’€ A Letter To My Mother That She Will Never Read
๐Ÿ’€ These Extremely Loving Pet Owners Preserve Their Pets For Eternity
๐Ÿ’€ Medieval Death Bot tweets about how people in medieval England died and itโ€™s fascinating
๐Ÿ’€ Bring Soup, Not Salad– and other rules for those in mourning.
๐Ÿ’€ Beauty in Decomposition: An Interview With Artist AJ Hawkins
๐Ÿ’€ Meet the Funeral Therapy Dog Who Helps Mourners Process Their Grief
๐Ÿ’€ Passed away, pushing up daisies โ€“ the many ways we donโ€™t talk about death
๐Ÿ’€ How Close Is Too Close? When Death Affects Real Estate
๐Ÿ’€ Speaking with the Dead Is an Effective Way of Mourning
๐Ÿ’€ Kieran Crowder โ€˜Liberatesโ€™ Ashes, Makes Art
๐Ÿ’€ What happens when a spouse dies in the middle of a divorce?
๐Ÿ’€ The Uncanny Body: Jennifer Firestoneโ€™s Gates and Fields
๐Ÿ’€ Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and the funeral arts in the year 2017
๐Ÿ’€ Playing With Death: The Morbid Curiosity Game
๐Ÿ’€ The Grave Girl Explores Upsala Swedish Cemetery in Sanford, Florida

Links of the Dead {April 2017}

Artist: Haenuli Shin

Artist: Haenuli Shin

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

More reading: Links of the Dead {April 2016}ย // Links of the Dead {April 2014}

๐Ÿ’€ How Grief Books By Mediums Harm The Living And The Dead
๐Ÿ’€ Victorian โ€˜Coffin Torpedoesโ€™ Blasted Would-Be Body Snatchers
๐Ÿ’€ Death-Inspired Love Comics That I Create To Cope With My Depression
๐Ÿ’€ How Tech Is Transforming A Bejing Burial Site
๐Ÿ’€ Grieving Haitians go into lifetime of debt to fund funerals
๐Ÿ’€ This Is What It’s Really Like To Do Makeup… On Dead People
๐Ÿ’€ The Devastating Process of Dying in America Without Insurance
๐Ÿ’€ My Journey As A Hospice Care Volunteer via Patricia Lundy
๐Ÿ’€ The Grave Girl Shares Some Out Takes From Her Year Of Cemetery Visits
๐Ÿ’€ Remembering the Worldโ€™s Oldest Person, in the Objects She Left Behind
๐Ÿ’€ Bang the Drum Slowly: Grief in Modern Horror
๐Ÿ’€ See Death as a Triumph, Not a Failure
๐Ÿ’€ In South Jersey, a familiar fight to save a historic African-American cemetery
๐Ÿ’€ How To Love The Earth In The Afterlife
๐Ÿ’€ 13 Reasons Why I Gave it a Shot (and am glad I did) via Death In The Gay Den
๐Ÿ’€ Thoughts On The International End of Life Doula Association Training Weekend, From Death In The Gay Den

Links of the Dead {March 2017}

american ghoul

Photo credit: American Ghoul {Daniel Vazquez}

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

This time last year: Links of the Dead {March 2016}

๐Ÿ’€ Carnival and the Spectacle of Bodies
๐Ÿ’€ What Do We Do With the Clothing of Grief?
๐Ÿ’€ โ€œZombieโ€ Votes (or, Voter Fraud and The Agency of the Dead)
๐Ÿ’€ This comedianโ€™s dad died last month. So she added that in her Tinder profile.
๐Ÿ’€ What the Dead Can Teach Us About Aging and Beauty
๐Ÿ’€ Patton Oswalt Explains How Pop Culture Gets Grieving All Wrong
๐Ÿ’€ When a Partner Dies, Grieving the Loss of Sex
๐Ÿ’€ A discussion of grief, survivor’s guilt, & intersectionality in the wake of the Pulse Tragedy.
๐Ÿ’€ Vice talks to the guy who’s responsible for fixing wonky skeletons at the Mรผtter Museum.
๐Ÿ’€ More Than 100 Bodies, 70 Coffins Recovered From Construction Site In Old City
๐Ÿ’€ Tubercular Venus: When the Beauty Standard was Dying
๐Ÿ’€ In Trunyan, where mortality is openly confronted with a visible spectacle of human decay.
๐Ÿ’€ Death, decay, and regeneration in the art of Nicomi Nix Turner
๐Ÿ’€ Powerful photographs of terminally ill patients living out their final wishes
๐Ÿ’€ Things I Wish I Had Known When My Dog Died
๐Ÿ’€ Catching Feelings: The Myth of Victorian-Era Tear Catchers
๐Ÿ’€ From Here to Eternity: An Interview With Caitlin Doughty of The Order of the Good Death
๐Ÿ’€ Donโ€™t Go Into the White Light: A thoughtful rumination on the (unintentional) lack of diversity in the death positive movement

Elsewhere: Taking Your Pulse (Interview for Storycorps)


On Saturday I had the distinct honor to talk with with my good friend Gus for Story Corps about the Pulse tragedy in Orlando last June. We discuss grief, survivor’s guilt, intersectionality and death care, among other things.

Gus writes about it at Death In The Gay Den today, where you will find a link to the entire interview, I hope you’ll take a moment to listen.

I should also note that, although she doesn’t remember telling me this, my sister encouraged me several years ago to “do one thing every day that scares you”. I was freaking out so badly about this that I think it should count as three days worth of anxiety-inducing initiatives!

Links of the Dead {February 2017}

Katrin Berge

Artist: Katrin Berge

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

This time last year: Links of the Dead {February 2016}

๐Ÿ’€ Why it is now more important than ever for the death positive movement to be political.
๐Ÿ’€ Ghost Marriages: Where the Living Wed the Dead
๐Ÿ’€ Death Hacker: You’re Going to Die, Here’s How to Deal With It
๐Ÿ’€ How the Unrelenting Threat of Death Shapes Our Behavior
๐Ÿ’€ The Skeleton Rocker: A Cozy Reminder of Our Mortality
๐Ÿ’€ In Europe’s First Forensic Cemetery, Corpses Decompose for Science
๐Ÿ’€ Santa Muerte as Religious Resistance
๐Ÿ’€ Dealing with debts when someone dies
๐Ÿ’€ The Challenge of Identifying The Dead In a Disaster
๐Ÿ’€ Grieving Someone You Didnโ€™t Like (because it happens)
๐Ÿ’€ A Company Will Press Your Ashes Into A Working Vinyl Album
๐Ÿ’€ Diet culture is just another way of dealing with the fear of death.
๐Ÿ’€ โ€œFamous last wordsโ€ and Japanese death poems offer two strikingly different approaches to mortality.
๐Ÿ’€ Why the #DeathPositive movement is important for public research
๐Ÿ’€ The Year After My Dadโ€™s Death Was the Best of My Life
๐Ÿ’€ New technology is forcing us to confront the ethics of bringing people back from the dead
๐Ÿ’€ These Elderly DIYers Came To Peace With Death–By Crafting Their Own Coffins
๐Ÿ’€ Bad Taste in Funeral Flowers: 1895-1914
๐Ÿ’€ Art and Death in Medieval Byzantium
๐Ÿ’€ The woman who washes the dead
๐Ÿ’€ “The Phone Of The Wind” Connects Both The Living And The Dead

Our Mawgas, Ourselves


I sincerely thought that I had prepared myself for the loss of my maternal grandmother; that I had steeled myself for the absence of her weird light, that I was ready to brave a world in which the wisest, kindest, most influential woman in my life no longer existed. The passage of recent years saw the loss of all of her children, including my mother, and then a year and a half ago, the death of her husband of 72 years, our beloved grandfather. My grandma had lost so much, and had been unwell for so long; she was ready to let go…the only thing is, her body, though it was slowly shutting down, was certainly taking its time and wasnโ€™t ready to let her pass to the next big thing just yet.

My sisters and I used to whisper that perhaps our grandmother was a witch, or a vampire, or maybe even a Highlander. A creature who had bargained for immortality, or perhaps she had it unwittingly bestowed upon her, but regardless, she would end up outliving us all. I think we truly believed this supernatural theory regarding her longevity after watching several years of this ninety-something year old woman bounce back from various maladies and afflictions and health-related dramas– a little worse for wear each time, but she would never lose that mysterious, mischievous twinkle in her eye. โ€œHa!โ€ it seemed to glint and tease, โ€œ…think again! Youโ€™re not getting rid of me that easily!โ€

But whether it was some vital bit of sorcery on the part of her own body or the spell cast by the fierce love of her granddaughters, death came for her in the end, and no there is no magic that I know of which can–or should–withstand that call.

My grandmotherโ€™s death marks the passing of the last adult figure in my life, which a pretty strange feeling, I can tell you that. Or at least, I know that to be true on an intellectual level, but to be honest, Iโ€™ve been feeling her absence long before her passing. For so long she was lucid and โ€œwith itโ€ and even if sheโ€™d only met you once in her life and even if it was 50 years ago, she would remember you. But on New Yearโ€™s Day, two months after she turned 95, a cerebral episode left her increasingly confused and disoriented and she rapidly got to a point where she didnโ€™t know where she was, or who we were anymore. We had worked so hard to keep her at home, and she didnโ€™t believe it was her home anymore. It was a heartbreaking decline.



I love this hazy, old photo of her. It is strange to admit, but I never actually thought of my grandmother as having legs; for as long as I can remember she suffered knee problems, and then for the last fifteen-twenty or so years she had either been using a walker, very slowly and painfully. In her last year of life she had been confined to her armchair, and finally, a hospice bed. But I know when she was younger she would carefully crouch while tending to her vegetable garden, kneel reverently whilst cultivating her otherworldly roses, and spend time on her back porch feeding her beloved birds, sprightly chasing off the chipmunks and squirrels from the seeds in winter, sitting cross-legged watching for deer and rabbits at the edge of their heavily wooded property in the spring. ย Seeing her pretty legs stretched out in the summer sun like this makes me so happy, especially when I reflect upon her last few months under layers of socks and blankets, her pale legs, weak, immobile, and never warm enough.

kitchen witch

I am forever indebted to my grandmother for bestowing upon me her love of cooking. I received no formal culinary teaching at her hands, but she always allowed me to hover nearby and watch, or give me a turn to stir the gravy, or roll out some dough, or a spoon to lick, while her murmuring of the ingredients and recipe became a gentle incantation that I can still her when attempt any sort of kitchen witchery in my own home. I remember the fearful curses that flew from her lips when a meringue would droop or a pudding would fail to set, but I also recall the peaceful magics that would beset a room when my sisters and I would tuck into a bowl of chicken and dumplings or Cincinnati chili that had earlier been bubbling merrily away on the stove. She never made me feel like I was a nuisance, or in the way, and she genuinely seemed to be pleased with my company. In later years, when standing became too difficult, she would direct the proceedings from a kitchen chair, while I carried out the steps for new recipes that she wanted to try. She had a grand appreciation for a good meal and a tremendous appetite for all kinds of junk food, too. Last May, when she recovered from an infection that left her bed bound, the first thing she said when she was feeling herself again, was that she was hungry for fried chicken! She had her priorities straight, we always liked to say.Magpie

Also, like my grandmother, I am a bit of a magpie. I spent so much of my childhood trawling through her mother of pearl jewelry box and playing dress-up with her dangling earrings and sparkling brooches; everything carried the lingering scent of her signature scent– Estee Lauderโ€™s Youth Dew–and for the longest time I thought that all baubles and gems emanated a musty, metallic tang, a strange witches brew of heady, formidable glamour and aggressive luxury. Even now, stealing sniffs from her almost empty perfume bottle, my memories glimmer and gleam with the treasures associated with that fragrance. Never opals, though. Opals are bad luck unless they are your birthstone, sheโ€™d caution me in a dire tone. Iโ€™m still frightened of them and to this day, I wonโ€™t even touch an opal.

An astrology enthusiast who insisted she had the second sight, my grandmother was also, as she liked to remind us, โ€œa good, Christian womanโ€. This God-fearing woman believed that we absolutely should not date any Scorpios (I wish I had heeded that particular warning) and that she was a little bit psychic; unfortunately her premonitions only extended to bad news and death, and which I personally thought had more a tinge of those โ€œsee I told you thatโ€™s what would happenโ€, cautionary energies rather the manifestation of the metaphysical. She was a good woman, that part I know for sure. Our holidays were often crowded with friends who had no families, and to whom she had extended invitations to her home in perpetuity so that they would never have to spend a holiday alone. My own mother was a complicated woman who fought and lost to many of her demons, but my grandmother was always a steady, dependable force who was there for my sisters and I when our mom was not. No one could have taken better care of us; my grandparents ensured that we always had clothes to wear, books to read, and food to eat (we thought that everyoneโ€™s dinner table was provided for by a grandmother who drove around with meat loaf and tuna casserole in the trunk of their car).

I owe everything I am to my grandmotherโ€ฆeven the weird, problematic bits. She had a morbid, melancholic streak, as did my mother, and I donโ€™t believe that depression develops in a vacuum. I remember her telling me once that she used to write poetry sometimes in high school, and recalling my own flair for melodrama, I was not the least bit surprised to hear that. Depression for my grandmother took the form of long naps and early bedtimes, and when I cannot bestir myself in the morning because of a gloomy mood, I know it for the echoes of her unhappiness running through my blood.

She loved true crime novels and sat spellbound watching dramatic court cases. She enthusiastically perused celebrity gossip magazines and oddly enough, thoroughly enjoyed South Park. I think she found the nature of human drama utterly fascinating, even and especially the sensationalist kind. But as much as she enjoyed connecting with people, she hated talking on the phone, and would only use the telephone in the event of an emergency. I too am made anxious at the thought of phone conversations, and I loved her for assuring me that we werenโ€™t the odd ones for having that aversion. We were perfectly normal, it was the rest of the world that was weird.

And no matter what we believed, or said, or did, or didnโ€™t do–she thought her granddaughters were smart, and beautiful, and perfect.

And this sage, strange, weird, wonderful woman, oh, how we thought the same of her.
Weโ€™re going to miss you so much, Mawga.

In loving memory of Valora E. Derrickson. 11/28/21 to 2/15/17


Links of the Dead {January 2017}


“Morgellons”, Caitlin McCormack

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

This time last year: Links of the Dead {January 2016}

๐Ÿ’€ Don’t Let Anyone Tell You You’re Not Allowed To Be Upset About A Celebrity Death
๐Ÿ’€ Artist works to capture and preserve cadavers
๐Ÿ’€ 5 places: Where you can’t die
๐Ÿ’€ The โ€˜Maternal Bereavement Effectโ€™ Explains Why So Many Parents Die After Their Children
๐Ÿ’€ Obituaries For Teenage Girls If They Actually Died When They Say They’re Dying
๐Ÿ’€ How to Create an Iconic Jaguar Hearse
๐Ÿ’€ โ€œMirrors With Memoriesโ€: Why Did Victorians Take Pictures of Dead People?
๐Ÿ’€ The Japanese Art of Grieving a Miscarriage
๐Ÿ’€ Mysterious Ancient Egypt ‘pot burials’ stand as metaphor for rebirth in the afterlife
๐Ÿ’€ On Death, Patriarchy & the Anti-Choice Movement
๐Ÿ’€ Taking Care Of The Dead At Home, And Other Matters Of Mortality
๐Ÿ’€ To dig or not to dig? The ethics of exhumation
๐Ÿ’€ The First Cryonic Preservation Took Place Fifty Years Ago Today
๐Ÿ’€ The Grieving Need You Most After the Funeral
๐Ÿ’€ Sometimes Nature is Morbid. Thatโ€™s Why Thereโ€™s #BestCarcass
๐Ÿ’€ How to Eat Like a Gravedigger
๐Ÿ’€ For the Forgotten African-American Dead
๐Ÿ’€ This Kid-Friendly Explanation Of Death Will Change How You Think About The World
๐Ÿ’€ Tracing The Remains: Sabrina Small and Caitlin McCormack at the Mรผtter Museum
๐Ÿ’€ Death Without Darkness: A mortician proposes a redesign for the crematory
๐Ÿ’€ Artist Jaime Erin Johnson explores places where one encounters life & death, growth & decay

this, that, & the other thing {xxxi}

evegrimoireGorgeous art by Brittany Schall in Grimoire issue #1

3. dressesHow nineteenth century Britain became obsessed with insects

tumblr_oi50b0Pi9C1u4z6nuo1_500Stripcraft: Lux ATLโ€™s Spells For The Revolution


Of Shadows: One Hundred Objects From The Museum Of Witchcraft And Magic

โ€  The Lure of Laudanum, the Victorians’ Favorite Drug
โ€  11 Nasty Women Dominating Weird Fiction
โ€  We Have Always Lived in the Castle: America’s queen of weird hits the screen
โ€  Sex Magic: How to Cast Spells with Your Orgasms
โ€  SinSynth: Dreamy Music for a Would-Be Neon Giallo
โ€  Emily Brontรซ was metal-as-fuck and deserves to be remembered as such.
โ€  Witch Marks, Curses, and Magic in the Neglected History of Medieval Graffiti
โ€  The Last Bookbinder On The Lower East Side
โ€  Bad Books For Bad People Episode 5: R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps
โ€  The Wordsmith Behind The Best -And Wittiest- Twitter Of 2016
โ€  The Rise of Science Fiction from Pulp Mags to Cyberpunk
โ€  Meet the ghosts at Los Angeles’s most haunted hotels

Links of the Dead {December 2016}

Popular Detective  Cover art by Rudolph Belarski December, 1945

Popular Detective; cover art by Rudolph Belarski,ย December, 1945

A gathering of death related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From somber to hilarious, from informative to creepy, hereโ€™s a snippet of things that have been reported on or journaled about related to matters of death & dying & mortality.

This time last year: Links of the Dead {December 2015}

๐Ÿ’€What Happens if You Vote and Die Before Election Day?
๐Ÿ’€The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains
๐Ÿ’€Where You Live May Determine How You Die
๐Ÿ’€โ€œDeath Librariansโ€ Shed Light on Mortality and Grief
๐Ÿ’€Picturing the Dead: Victorian memorial photography takes on new life.
๐Ÿ’€How do you tell a child his mother is dying?
๐Ÿ’€Rizpah, Guardian of the Dead
๐Ÿ’€The Observer’s obituaries of 2016
๐Ÿ’€Coffin It Up: Bringing back the art of handmade custom coffins
๐Ÿ’€Made With Ashes: Memento Mori For Your Next Dinner Party
๐Ÿ’€For Transwomen killed by tOakland fire, struggle for respect continues in death.
๐Ÿ’€Speedy shovels shine in Slovakia’s grave-digging contest
๐Ÿ’€What The Texas Fetal Remains Ruling Really Means and How You Can Take Action
๐Ÿ’€The Next Generation of Death Mask is Freakishly Beautiful
๐Ÿ’€Interview with artist Hans Op de Beeck on matters of impermanence and loss through his art and how the reality of death can alter oneโ€™s view on life
๐Ÿ’€Can creativity beat death? New study suggests creatives worry less about dying
๐Ÿ’€Death like you’ve never seen it before | Joanna Ebenstein | TEDxNewYork
๐Ÿ’€Death Work: A conversation with doulas Roxanne Baker and Saralee Gallien
๐Ÿ’€Memento Moro In Felt: The Art Of Lana Crooks
๐Ÿ’€Your Deathbed Playlist
๐Ÿ’€Psilocybin: A Journey Beyond the Fear of Death?
๐Ÿ’€For 22 Unclaimed Bodies in New York, a Grim Path From Death to Burial
๐Ÿ’€The Privilege of a Good Death
๐Ÿ’€4 Foreboding Omens Who Are Trying to Mansplain My Death to Me
๐Ÿ’€Meet The Women Who Love Death
๐Ÿ’€A Mortician’s Tale: Death Positive Gaming
๐Ÿ’€Inside Bolivia’s Skull Festival, Where the Dead Get Diamonds and Sunglasses
๐Ÿ’€Mourning Through Horror Movies
๐Ÿ’€Death & the Maiden’s 2016 Holiday gift guide

I Held My Own Death Cafe And You Can Too

15123274_10210191784978685_9057404028876565042_o (1)

When I first read about the incredibly wonderful concept of Death Cafe, I was thrilled to learn such a thing existed and hoped to attend one nearby…alas, there were none to be found local to me. So I held my own! Read more about Death Cafe and and my experiences with them at Haute Macabre this week.ย today. Featured art by the always incredibleย Becky Munich.

Bonus: How to wear your own Death Cafe (or, as I like to think of it “How To Wear An Article About Holding Your Own Death Cafe”). As always, click on the image to be linked to the item details.dc1

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