Archive of ‘death and dying’ category

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, 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 {February 2016}

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

Our Mawgas, Ourselves

16583450_1606115262736677_5166708411408056320_n

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 wasn’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. “Ha!” it seemed to glint and tease, “…think again! You’re not getting rid of me that easily!”

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 grandmother’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, 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 Year’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 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.

FullSizeRender

 

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.  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 Lauder’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, she’d caution me in a dire tone. I’m still frightened of them and to this day, I won’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, “a good, Christian woman”. 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 “see I told you that’s what would happen”, 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 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).

I owe everything I am to my grandmother…even the weird, problematic bits. She had a morbid, melancholic streak, as did my mother, and I don’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 weren’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 didn’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.
We’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_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

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. 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

1 2 3 4 5