Dying 101

From the trenches:

 

Clarity.  Humor.  Sparkle.  Death.  What’s not to love?!

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The Public Memorial in Macy’s

Even though my personal memorial plans tend toward “leave no trace”, I’m fascinated by (and maybe a bit jealous of) the ways that other people become memorialized.

 

Recently, this public memorial to two Titanic victims (from Ephemeral New York) grabbed my attention.

 

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Photo:  from Ephemeral New York

 

Mr. & Mrs. Straus, owners of Macy’s Department Store in New York City, both perished on the Titanic, choosing to die together rather than be separated–the lifeboats were only accepting women and children, and Mrs. Straus reportedly exited the lifeboat to stay with her husband when she realized that fact.

The eyewitness account (from Ephemeral New York’s story) goes on to say,

They expressed themselves as fully prepared to die, and calmly sat down on steamer chairs on the glass-enclosed Deck A, prepared to meet their fate.

 

This plaque, commissioned and paid for by the employees of Macy’s, was a sign of the respect that the Strauses–who funded an aid society, health insurance, and hot meals for their employees–commanded among the staff.

This plaque can still be seen inside the 34th Street entrance to Macy’s.

You Must Watch This!

Recently, National Geographic Explorer was in Austin filming for an episode about death and post-death practices, and the local alternative death scene was featured in amazing detail!

You can find the entire episode here, at the National Geographic website.

(Sorry, you have to have cable access credentials to see it. It’s not on YouTube yet–I checked!)

 

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Photo: National Geographic Channel

 

Our own Eloise Woods Natural Burial Park was the site of a few different filmings, from a pre-death visit where an entire family came out to dig a grave (including the 93 year old patriarch with advanced Alzheimer’s whose grave was being dug), to a mock natural burial, to an actual burial ceremony that just happened to occur when the National Geographic crew was there.

The story also followed the 93 year old’s family as they deliberated arrangements and options for their Papa, and eventually chose to learn how to do a home funeral for him when the time came.   The cameras then swarmed and rolled as our awesome local home funeral guides, Sandy Booth and Donna Belk, led a private workshop and trained the family to care for a  volunteer corpse.

(Incidentally, have you read my account of being the corpse at a Donna & Sandy workshop?  It was an AMAZING experience, one I would recommend to anyone interested in or even just curious about home funerals!)

The entire special is chock full of interesting learnings about American deathcare, including a fascinating bit on cryopreservation and showing an actual embalming–I highly recommend it!

Another fun death conference!

The Funeral Consumers Alliance is a national grassroots advocacy group which promotes fairness, preparedness, and consumer rights in the funeral and end of life spaces.

Locally in Austin, the FCA-CTX does an amazing job compiling a comprehensive funeral pricing survey, making educational presentations to groups, advising folks on their rights and end-of-life documents, and in general ensuring that the rights of local consumers are protected.   The national FCA does an equally great job of education and advocacy, with national reach.

I’m super excited to register for their biennial conference–so many great Death Positive and end of life issues topics to learn from!

Wanna join me??

 

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