Archive of ‘death and dying’ category

Currently {February 2017}

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Currently I am mourning the loss of my grandmother, who was one of, if not the most, influential women in my life.  Friends and readers of Unquiet Things know that she has been unwell for a while now–ever since my grandfather passed a year and a half ago, and probably since my mother died, a year before that. It’s no shock to anyone I suppose; the only surprising thing about it is that she stuck around as long as she did.

My grandmother’s death marks the passing of the last adult figure in my life, which is pretty weird, I can tell you that.  Or at least, I know that to be true on an intellectual level, but to be honest, I’ve been feeling her absence long before her passing. For so long she was lucid and “with it” and even if she’d only met you once in her life and even if it was 50 years ago, she would remember you. But on New Years 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 didn’t know where she was, or who we were anymore. We had worked so hard to keep her at home, and she didn’t believe it was her home anymore. It was a heartbreaking decline.

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I love this hazy, old photo of her. I never really thought of my grandmother as having legs…for as long as I could remember she had knee problems and then for the last 15-20 or so years she had been using a walker, very slowly and painfully, or just most of the time, confined to the house and in her chair.  Seeing her pretty legs stretched out in the sun like this makes me absurdly happy.

I owe my love of cooking to her. She never formally taught me anything, but always let me hover nearby and watch, or give me a turn to stir the gravy, or roll out some dough, or a spoon to lick. 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!

Like my grandmother, I too loathe phone calls and talking on the phone. Whenever she telephoned me, I knew it had to be an emergency, because she just wouldn’t call, otherwise.  Unlike me, however, she sincerely liked meeting new people. She immediately wanted to know their whole life stories, everything about them, and as I mentioned, even if she only met them once, she’d still be asking about them years later.

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I’m convinced that if not for our grandparents, my sisters and I would not have turned out nearly as well as we did. Not that we’re all that great or anything, but I think we had the potential to go the exact opposite direction. No matter what state my mother was in, drunk or crazy or in rehab, or maybe literally across the state line, they took care of us; they ensured that we always had clothes to wear, food to eat (we thought that everyone’s dinner table was provided for by a grandmother who drove around with meat loaf and tuna casserole in the trunk of their car), and received a sound education.

I think I owe everything I am to my grandmother…even the weird, problematic bits, because my grandmother also had a melancholic streak, as did my mother, and I don’t believe that depression develops in a vacuum.  I remember her telling me once that in high school she used to write poetry sometimes, and how I was not the least bit surprised to hear that.

She loved true crime novels and watching dramatic court cases. She enthusiastically perused celebrity gossip magazines and oddly enough, thoroughly enjoyed South Park. She thought even the idea of sushi was repulsive and would always make a face if I had told her that’s what I dined on recently. She told us she was partially psychic, because she always knew before someone was to give her bad news–and it always broke my heart to have to give her bad news.

She thought her granddaughters were smart, and beautiful, and perfect.
We thought the same of her.

We’re going to miss you so much, Mawga.

Links of the Dead {January 2017}

Morgellons_grande

“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, here’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}

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

OS-WEB-2

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

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

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

I Held My Own Death Cafe And You Can Too

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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. today. Featured art by the always incredible 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

Links of the Dead {November 2016}

Tristeza by Lizz Lopez

Tristeza by Lizz Lopez

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 related to matters of death & dying & mortality.

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

💀 You Can Embalm Dead Bodies In This Funeral Home Video Game
💀 These Photos Show How People Are Dying Around The World
💀 Imagined Afterlives: Death in Classic Fantasy
💀 Evi Numen, Death Doula
💀 Patton Oswalt Opens Up About How His Wife Died
💀 Scientifically, What’s the Best Way to Die (Without Killing Yourself)?
💀 What I learned about dying from those who work in the funeral industry
💀 The hidden part of the internet where the grieving find solace by sharing pictures of loved ones
💀 “The Art of Dying”, a virtual & augmented reality art show
💀 ‘Grief is so overpowering – it consumes you’: The Guardian readers on death and dying
💀 Glimpses of the Afterlife in Swoon’s New Installation
💀 The Surprising Number of Middle-Aged White Men Who Think About Faking Their Own Deaths
💀 Feminists are redefining culture’s broken relationship with mortality
💀 Oh, cool. Facebook is saying we’re all dead
💀 The corpses that changed my life | Caitlin Doughty | TEDxVienna
💀 Immortal prose: how writers deal with death
💀 Revisiting America’s Dead in Posthumous Portraits from the 19th Century
💀 Amber Carvaly on why politics, social justice and the death positive movement are inseparable
💀 A Time To Mourn Without a Place to Pray
💀 Defying Morbidity: Tales From a Central Pennsylvania Funeral Home. Patricia Lundy talks with her grandmother about what it was like to live so intimately close to the dead.

Elsewhere: Evi Numen, Death Doula

evinumen_veilAt Haute Macabre this week I talk with Evi Numen about her role as a Death Doula. We discuss the need for this type of service in a society that lost the vital connection it once had with its dying and the dead, and the training involved in both bearing witness to the process of dying as well as easing the passage from this world to the next.

For the interview, Evi shared some of her exquisite Victorian tintypes, and noted “I’ve been collecting portraits of local Victorians for a while now, mostly in the form of albumen prints (cartes de visite) and tintypes. Most of the people in my collections are anonymous, and forgotten by history. Their portraits have made their way to flea markets and antique shops, no longer in the family album. I wanted to honor them by giving them a new narrative through painting… I think of them as small tributes to the individuals depicted.”

 

 

Links of the Dead {October 2016}

Full circle by Kristy Patterson

Full circle by Kristy Patterson

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 related to matters of death & dying & mortality.

💀 Canada legalized assisted suicide, but there aren’t enough doctors to keep up with demand
💀 Saving Skin: The public lives of posthumous bodies.
💀 The Art of Condolence
💀 Dying woman picks road trip over chemotherapy
💀 The Privilege of a Good Death
💀 A Letter to the Doctors and Nurses Who Cared for My Wife
💀 24 Photos Of Skulls and Skeletons From Different Death Rituals
💀 Aid in Dying Movement Advances
💀 The 10 Iconic Cemeteries That Made Death Beautiful
💀 Lessons on Dying From David Bowie and My Friends
💀 Fetus Funerals: The Dystopian New Turn in the Fight Against Abortion Rights
💀 Metro Arts Presents DEATHFEST
💀 This Explorer’s Corpse Has Been Trapped in Ice for More Than a Century
💀 A Performance Where Victorian Mourning Braiding Meets Neuroscience
💀 A History of the Infinite: Death & Immortality
💀 Strengthen Your Sense of Smell While Contemplating Your Doom

Links of the Dead {September 2016}

"Evening Walk" by Kristin Forbes-Mullane, 2016

“Evening Walk” by Kristin Forbes-Mullane, 2016

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 related to matters of death & dying & mortality.

💀 Dhruvi Acharya’s new work explores the journey of reconstructing the self after loss.
💀 Little Miss Funeral: Lauren LeRoy reflects on her experiences in a male dominated industry and on why her job is so important.
💀 Shopping for the Afterlife in China
💀 A Daughter Reflects On Her Mother’s Fight For A Medically-Assisted Death.
💀 How Quakers Cope with Death
💀 After escaping the World Trade Center on 9/11, Stephen Milller left Wall Street to become a professional obituary writer.
💀 What It Feels Like to Die: Science is just beginning to understand the experience of life’s end.
💀 The funeral business? Eternally healthy. But finding younger mortuary workers is a challenge.
💀 Is 2016 the year of the celebrity death? An update.
💀 Morbid Curiosity is a card game about death. Part trivia, part conversation it offers an intriguing and delightfully morbid evening with friends.
💀 The Sobering Thing Doctors Do When They Die
💀 Life, The Universe And Everything: Five Things I Learnt At A Death Cafe

death cafe daytona

…and speaking of Death Cafe, I have just facilitated my fourth and final Death Cafe Orlando event. It was a lively, yet bittersweet gathering, but I can’t be too sad, for I have passed the torch to some truly fantastic folks, and in the meantime, I am gearing up to begin Death Cafe Daytona Beach to serve the Volusia County area! Our first event will be in early 2017 and I couldn’t be more excited.

Previous installments:
Links of the Dead for August 2016
Links of the Dead for July 2016
Links of the Dead for June 2016
Links of the Dead for May 2016
Links of the Dead for April 2016
Links of the Dead for March 2016
Links of the dead for February 2016
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

Links of the Dead {August 2016}

Sedlec, Nona Limmen

Sedlec, Nona Limmen

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 related to matters of death & dying & mortality.

💀 I arrived at my friend’s party. A few hours later she died, exactly as planned.
💀 This 25-Year-Old Cancer Patient Is Live Blogging His Death
💀 Photographer Karen Jerzyk shares her journey onward from her father’s sudden death 
💀 ‘Right, Before I Die’ LA photo exhibit on wisdom of the dying
💀 The King is Dead: Death Positivity in the Epic of Gilgamesh
💀 Palliative care physician BJ Miller asks big questions about how we think on death
💀 Artist Nona Limmen on her philosophies of death and the inspiration she finds there
💀 Death & the Maidens: Why Women Are Working With Death
💀 Saturday September 17, 2016 is the15th annual hearse show in Hell (Hell, MI)
💀 Your Own Personal Graveyard: Tiny Tombstones and Memento Mori
💀 N.Y. Close to Allowing Pets to be Buried With Their Owners
💀 Four things dying people agree are as bad as or worse than death
💀 Talk is cheap. Burials are not: Telling people what you want for your funeral is not enough
💀 What Happens When a Cemetery Dies?
💀 We’re All Going to Die review: Leah Kaminsky puts a positive spin on our demise

Previous installments:
Links of the Dead for July 2016
Links of the Dead for June 2016
Links of the Dead for May 2016
Links of the Dead for April 2016
Links of the Dead for March 2016
Links of the dead for February 2016
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

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