Still life, after Herman Henstenburgh No.02 , 2013 by Hiroyuki Masuyami

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From heart-rending to gut-splitting (sometimes you gotta laugh, you know?) from informative to insightful to sometimes just downright weird and creepy, here’s a snippet of recent items that have been reported on or journaled about with regard to death, dying, and matters of mortality.

Previously: March 2020 | March 2019 | March 2018 | March 2017 | March 2014

💀 A Very 90s Death: The Tamagotchi Cemetery

💀 Cooking with the Dead: A zine of tombstone recipes

💀 The Best Books to Teach Your Kid About Grief and Loss

💀 As death approaches, our dreams offer comfort, reconciliation

💀 Cemetery and Graveyard Trees: Folklore, Superstition and History

💀 How to Be Less Scared of Death, According to a ‘Deathfluencer’

💀 How a doctor tried to surgically save the human soul — after death

💀 Grief is the thing with guitars: How indie music is tackling death in the age of Covid

💀 Ashes in the mail: Dealing with the loss of a loved one has changed in the covid era

💀 Grieving People Are Looking Forward To “Different Things” Once The Pandemic Eases

 

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After Hendrick Andriessen, via Christies

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From heart-rending to gut-splitting (sometimes you gotta laugh, you know?) from informative to insightful to sometimes just downright weird and creepy, here’s a snippet of recent items that have been reported on or journaled about with regard to death, dying, and matters of mortality.

Previously: February 2020 | February 2019 | February 2018 | February 2017 | February 2016 

💀 Haute Grief: Empress Elisabeth of Austria’s Mourning Mask and Veil

💀 Closure Isn’t a Thing in Grief and That’s Okay

💀 Grief Journaling Tips & Writing Prompts

💀 The Stuff of Death and The Death of Stuff

💀 What a Death Doula Can Teach Us About Living More Compassionately

💀 Is End of Life Its Own Stage of Life?

💀 7 tips for thoughtfully dealing with grief in the workplace

💀 A Greek Photographer’s Ode to the Art of Mourning

💀 Video games revel in death, Spiritfarer focuses on what happens next

💀‘Buried by the Bernards’ Is a Different Kind of Netflix Reality Show 

💀7 Books About Death And Dying For Comfort During Tough Times

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https://youtu.be/kHkp5PyBYzU

[Edit] Looks like that video above was taken down due to copyright violations. Hope you were able to see it while it was up on YouTube! Otherwise, maybe it will show up somewhere else. I realize it’s more a less a broken link, but I am leaving it there as evidence that it once existed.]

When I was young, oh maybe about five or six years old or so, one of my very favorite television shows was Benson. Which…was kind of a weird pick for a little kid. Not a cartoon or a fairytale or kid’s variety show, or even anything that I might typically watch now, as an adult–I think it was what I might refer to as a “classy comedy”, which some critics and reviewers note as being on par with MAS*H and Barney Miller. Neither of which I have ever watched, but so I can’t really comment on that!

I’m not sure how this sitcom came across my radar or what my mom thought about me watching it (she didn’t let us watch The Flintstones because she thought Fred Flinstone was an asshole) but somehow I guess Benson was okay.

Running from 1979–1986, Benson was a spin-off of Soap, a show which apparently parodied the melodramatic antics of soap opera families. Witty, sharp-tongued Benson DuBois is a former butler from Soap who becomes the title character in his own show, and the “director of household affairs,” to a bumbling state governor. Benson moves up in the world, becoming the state’s budget director, then lieutenant governor and eventually candidate for the executive mansion. I am not sure what on earth drew me to this show, but I loved Benson’s character so very much and wanted us to be the very best of friends. I thought he was silly and smart, and that he would be an amazing person to have on my side.

Up until the season 4 opener episode, “Death in a Funny Position,” Benson was just a funny, light-hearted television program that I looked forward to watching once a week and which made me laugh. Everything changed when I first saw this particular storyline, and I mean EVERYTHING.

As a little girl at that age, I don’t think had encountered many references to death at all, let alone any instances of it. And on a lesser note, I certainly didn’t realize that television shows had episode titles, to even pick up on this particular episode’s theme. I don’t think I really even comprehended the idea of a season of television. It was just an ongoing story, as far as I was concerned.

There were a lot of things I didn’t pick up on. Either due to my immaturity or just being an oblivious little person, in general (maybe both, I am still pretty oblivious as an adult and there are many things I don’t pick up on!) Re-watching a snippet of this episode just now, it’s clear they are setting it up as some sort of mystery, whodunit episode, but I don’t recall that as keeping in tone with the typical plots on Benson. And so you must understand that child-me was totally blindsided and shocked by what happened next. I thought this guy was declaring his romantic love to Miss Kraus, but instead, he was pleading for help because HE HAD BEEN STABBED IN THE BACK. The visuals of which I have tried to capture for you, above, but it’s awfully fuzzy and grainy.

As an aside, it’s just been in the past few days that I have been thinking of all of this, and if you look to see when the video was uploaded to YouTube, it was February 4, 2021–just two days ago! How weird is that?! Must be a sign from the universe! Definitely time to write this blog post you’ve been sitting on, Sarah.

I screamed and hollered right alongside Miss Kraus. I was in such a state of profound panic and extreme terror that if my mother had some sort of sedative, I am quite sure she would have administered it. What WAS that? WHAT HAPPENED? The guy was alive and then…then…he just WASN’T ALIVE?! And not only that, someone stuck a KNIFE in him? What was the point of that? What was the point of someone witnessing that (both Miss Kraus and me)? If this is what happens to that guy, is that what happens to all of us? And if so, what was the point of…anything?

Hoo boy.

I don’t think I ever quite recovered from that betrayal and loss of innocence, and I certainly never watched another episode of Benson. As an adult many decades later, sometimes I still question the point of anything. Of everything. But you know what? I think I am ready to forgive my old friend Benson, and finish watching this episode.

If you want to watch it as well, it’s a two parter! Here’s “Death in a Funny Position” part 2, below.

https://youtu.be/KLGndC97YEw

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Artist: Anneke Wilder

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From heart-rending to gut-splitting (sometimes you gotta laugh, you know?) from informative to insightful to sometimes just downright weird and creepy, here’s a snippet of recent items that have been reported on or journaled about with regard to death, dying, and matters of mortality.

Previously: {January 2020}|{January 2019}| {January 2018} | {January 2017} | {January 2016}

💀 Claudia Crobatia Is Getting Ahead Of Death

💀 Maori Ancestors Are Coming Home

💀 What is ‘Toxic Positivity’ in Grief?

💀 How to Hold a Virtual Memorial Service

💀 Things I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You About Your Funeral

💀 Lost touch: how a year without hugs affects our mental health

💀 Deaths keep coming at one L.A. hospital as workers weep

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The one thing all human beings have in common is the fact that one day, our life will end in death. What does death mean to you? How does it make you feel? I recently had a unique opportunity to engage quite personally with these sometimes scary, often uncomfortable, typically taboo questions and examine my own history and understanding of them, as well.

I’ve experienced more death than I care to think about in the past several years. Three close family members–my mother and both of my maternal grandparents–passed one after the other in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Through these experiences, I thought I had a handle on the different aspects of death, the ins and outs, the befores and afters.

I learned how to care for a dying loved one, loved ones both cooperative and cognizant–and loved ones who were not-so-much. I learned how to navigate the complicated business of living wills and regular old wills and estate planning, and in the unfortunate case of my mother, no wills or planning at all. I learned how to grieve the loss of a pair of loving and generous grandparents, as well as the difficult relationship with my mother. I believed that through these intimate familial encounters with grief and loss, I had become familiar with death, and in doing so, faced some of my own innate fears.

As it turned out, this wasn’t the case at all. At the end of everything, once I had time to breathe again, it struck me all at once. I’d come to terms with the death of almost everyone important to me because I’d had to face the actual reality of their deaths, but now that the dust had settled and the metaphorical dirt had been shoveled over their graves (it wasn’t, though, they were all cremated) this left me with an awful lot of time to contemplate my own mortality. This shouldn’t be a problem, right? I’d cozied up to the dead and dying plenty of times by now–I was perfectly prepared to confront the idea of my own death, wasn’t I? It wasn’t until I had only myself to think about and plan for that I understood how limited my knowledge about death really was, and how tenuous my ideas regarding the afterlife were once I began to more closely examine them.

These realizations were unexpectedly paralyzing. The raising of these questions broke me and bruised me in ways that I never could have anticipated…and I found comfort and catharsis in an equally unexpected way.

Death Awareness Coach Claudia Crobatia’s Get Ahead of Death Course is a series of 31 videos, divided into 7 modules which encourages people to explore their own relationship with mortality and tackles many of these questions. Guiding us through the subject matter with grace and compassion, Claudia provides us tools to get more comfortable with the idea of death and reduce some of this death anxiety– along with helping us integrate the new perspectives we gain during the course and turning them into practical actions.  What does death mean to you? What are your fears regarding the idea of death and how can you transform them? How have your own experiences with death in the past shaped how you feel about it, and do these ideas still make sense to you today?

Through these conversations Claudia stresses that each person’s death is as individual as each person’s life, and invites us, in the safe haven of these gentle videos and corresponding lessons, to prepare personal death plans, to create bucket lists for living our best lives, exercises for envisioning and mourning our own death, as well as being guided through your own death in a special death meditation.

This course is a way of connecting with your own mortality. It is not a cure for fear or pain, nor is it intended to be. But it provides the tools to explore those fears, to reflect on painful instances of grief and loss and make these feelings easier to bear. Before embarking on this Get Ahead of Death Course I didn’t even know what questions I had in order to seek answers; now it’s possible I have more questions than I know what to do with! And it is the awareness of these profound questions–and the seeking of answers– that I believe to be of key importance in living more authentically and fully. Now I have resources and tools to better address these questions and understand the answers I may find as I move forward through this one life I have, in the time I have left to me.

All imagery courtesy Claudia Crobatia.

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Vanitas II | Stojan Minev
Oil on canvas – 2015

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From heart-rending to gut-splitting (sometimes you gotta laugh, you know?) from informative to insightful to sometimes just downright weird and creepy, here’s a snippet of recent items that have been reported on or journaled about with regard to death, dying, and matters of mortality.

This time last year: {November 2018}| {November 2017} | {November 2016} | {November 2015}

💀 The Losses We Share

💀 Green-Wood Cemetery’s New Artist-in-Residence

💀 COVID-19 has made this the saddest Day of the Dead in Los Angeles

💀 The Death Positive Movement Encourages Us to Face Death Directly

💀 Modernist home situated within Highgate Cemetery in London is up for sale

💀 ‘We can’t grieve’: online forum where Covid bereaved feel they can share

💀 Book reveiw: Funeral Diva,’ a Mix of Memoir and Poetry, Stirs the Body and Mind

💀 A church in Rome has over 3,000 skeletons on display. They give a chilling—but hopeful—reminder about death

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Image: Sasha Vinogradova
Image: Sasha Vinogradova

A gathering of death-related links that I have encountered in the past month or so. From heart-rending to gut-splitting (sometimes you gotta laugh, you know?) from informative to insightful to sometimes just downright weird and creepy, here’s a snippet of recent items that have been reported on or journaled about with regard to death, dying, and matters of mortality.

Previous Links Of The Dead: {July 2019} | {July 2018} | {July 2017} | {July 2016}

💀 Grief is a Weighted Blanket
💀 The Necropants Report, courtesy Courtney Lane
💀 Funeral Favors Can Be Tacky — But Their History is Long
💀 Symbols of Death in Art – Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
💀 Boom Time for Death Planning
💀 Bookcase converts to coffin when needed
💀Immortal Remains: A History of Preserving the Human Body
💀 The world’s first photograph of a murder caught on film: a twitter thread
💀 We Need To Talk About The Memeification Of Breonna Taylor’s Death

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Vanitas with Sunflower and Jewelry Box by Maria van Oosterwijck (c. 1665)
Vanitas with Sunflower and Jewelry Box by Maria van Oosterwijck (c. 1665)

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 Links Of The Dead: {June 2019} | {June 2018} | {June 2017} | {June 2016}

💀Graveyards as green getaways

💀Professional Mourners Laments From Quarantine

💀How do you foster ‘a good death in a racist society?’

💀Three Ways to Address Guilt When You’re Grieving

💀Alica Forneret‘s grief resources created by and for BIPOC

💀The first-ever human composting site will open in 2021 in Seattle

💀School apologises after children are told to plan own funeral as homework

💀How To Support Children Who Have Lost Their Fathers To Police Violence

💀The Lack of Mobilized Outrage For Police Killing Black Women Is An Injurious Erasure

💀Speaking Grief validates the experience of grievers and guides those wishing to support them.

💀A Wrench in the Gears of the Grief Machine: How do I mourn with members of my faith if I can’t be with them?

💀Kubo and the Two Strings is not only a samurai epic. It perfectly encapsulates the themes of Death, grief, and hair

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momI share with my mother a profound love of beautiful things, gorgeous fragrances, an obsessive appreciation for visual arts and the written word, and a fascination with the mystical and arcane. From her, I also received some decidedly unlovely things: soul-deep self-esteem issues, heaps of childhood trauma, and what I think of as our family’s ancestral depression, which some are marked with more than others, but we all suffer from it.

My mother died in 2013 (or was it 2014? It’s getting harder to remember and this both scares and saddens me.) I am no longer as angry with her as I once was. And to be honest, more than anything else, now I just miss her. You did the best you could, Elaine. I’m doing my best, too.

I just read something so sharp and true, it cleaved my heart clean in two.

My mother is a poem
I’ll never be able to write,
though everything I write
is a poem to my mother.

― Sharon Doubiago

I hope I’m making you proud, mom. I used to feel that was a weird and fraudulent longing, but I now know it is not. It’s the truest thing, and it always has been. Every word I have ever written has been, in some way or another, for you.

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Gregory Halili
Gregory Halili

The intro for our monthly installment of Links Of The Dead typically reads as follows: “Some deathly reportings 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 come across my radar with reference to matters of mortality.”

This month I think I am going with: here’s a bunch of mostly depressing news. But some of it may be helpful or heartening! Don’t lose hope, friends. We will get through this.

Previous Links Of The Dead: {March 2019} | {March 2018} | {March 2017} | {March 2016}

💀 The Healing Power Of Music In A Time Of Death, Fear And Grief
💀 What should you wear to your funeral?
💀 Grief, Anxiety, and COVID-19
💀That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief
💀 Growing Up In A Funeral Home Couldn’t Prepare Me For My Sister’s Death
💀 Funerals Must Change In This Time Of Social Distancing
💀 Interview with Dr John Troyer about “Technologies of the Corpse
💀 The Pandemic Highlights The Importance Of Conversations About End Of Life Care
💀 Considerations related to the safe handling of bodies of deceased persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19
💀 A twitter thread from The Order Of The Good Death: information, resources, & support in relation to to Covid-19 including a toolkit, alternatives to holding an in-person funeral, how to thoughtfully talk about death, grief & isolation.

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