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Thread: Is natural death the only way out? — On the topic of death

  1. #181 4 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me After My Dad Died. — by Kelisha Gardeen 
    It’s been seven years since my dad died. Sometimes it feels like seven years, but on days like these, it feels like it’s only been seven days. I was 15 years old when my dad passed away. Fifteen years old and insecure. Fifteen years old and easily embarrassed. Fifteen years old and unprepared. Fifteen years old and unsure of everything that made me who I was. Losing such an influential guiding force during such a crucially developmental part of my life catapulted me into a whirlwind of struggling to discover myself, while simultaneously dealing with a critical absence in my life.

    Here are four things that I wish someone could have told me when I was 15 years old and completely, utterly, painfully lost:
    1. Continuing doesn’t mean forgetting.
    2. Loss can act as a catalyst for inspiration.
    3. Feeling what you’re feeling is okay.
    4. The people who are throwing out safety nets while you fall and fall and fall—keep those people in your life.
    4 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me After My Dad Died. — by Kelisha Gardeen

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  2. #182 8 Alternatives to Cremation: Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of our Bodies... 
    Polly introduces her subject with a story that explains why she became interested in the subject matter.

    It’s a simple question: how do I want to dispose of my body when I die?

    A simple question with no easy answer.

    The urns with my parents’ ashes have been in my home for the last 18 years. Putting this on paper turns my stomach. With guilt.

    Having the power of attorney for my father’s health care when he died put the responsibility on me to take the lead. He had made the decision to be cremated but didn’t go any farther to say what he wanted to have done with his ashes. Neither had my mother.

    My siblings and I couldn’t agree. One sibling shuddered at the thought of the ashes being kept in a niche wall, my other siblings had no preference, and being the eternal peacemaker in our family, I deferred. My siblings did agree on one thing, “Why don’t you keep them for now?”

    “Now” became 18 years.
    The eight different cremation/burial alternatives she discovered and discusses are...

    1. Natural Burial
    2. Mushroom Suit
    3. Bio Urns
    4. Resomation
    5. Promession
    6. Eternal Reefs
    7. Green Embalming
    8. Body Donation

    8 Alternatives to Cremation: Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of our Bodies after we’re Gone. — by Polly Liontis

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  3. #183 How Realizing I’m Dying made me Love Being Alive. — by Russell Graves 
    Until a few years ago, there were two extremely important things I didn’t know that I knew.

    The first thing I didn’t know was that I was going to die, and the second was how much I love being alive.

    It turns out, and I suspect I’m not alone in this, finding out the former had absolutely everything to do with discovering the latter.

    Of course I knew intellectually that I was going to die. But until recently, it had only been a dreamlike concept. And even though I was already well into my 60s, it was the one that still felt far away.

    The shift from fuzzy concept to imminent, unavoidable reality wasn’t due to any major life event, medical crisis, or anything like that.

    The shift began following a slow accrual of minor losses of various physical and mental abilities—ones that I had always taken for granted—all of a sudden, it hit me: holy sh*t, it’s really true, I’m going to die soon!
    How Realizing I’m Dying made me Love Being Alive. — by Russell Graves

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  4. #184 An End Of Life Caregiver Has A Message About Death That You Need To Hear Right Now 
    As a guest on the Rich Roll Podcast, Bush spent considerable time talking about the impending ecological crisis the human race is facing, and how our current course of action will almost certainly lead to the death of our species and of life on earth, he helps us to reframe our concept of death.

    “We have the belief, I think in our subconscious, because of the movies we watch, because of the TV shows we watch, because of our big divorce from the death process, it’s become sterilized. You have probably not seen many people die. You have probably not seen your loved ones die. They’ve probably died in operating rooms, or ICU’s… and so very few human beings are now watching this process of death, and its allowed death to be defined as an endpoint. As a contraction, or a disappearance, rather than what I’ve actually seen it to be.” ~Zach Bush, MD
    He goes on to point out examples of people have biologically died but have been brought back to life. These are the people who’ve experienced what we’ve come to call near death experiences, a remarkable phenomenon in which people from all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and so on, all share a very common experience.

    “And what I’ve seen it to be is a massive expansion, of consciousness, of reality, of awareness, and ultimately of love.” ~Zach Bush, MD
    An End Of Life Caregiver Has A Message About Death That You Need To Hear Right Now — by Vic Bishop

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  5. #185 Death And Dying From A Shamanic Perspective — by Jan Engels-Smith 
    In shamanism, the belief that there is no death is a concept grounded in the belief of the soul existing in a never-ending process of regeneration. Our soul remembers our ancient past, engages with our current environment, and knows our future lives. We live forever and our soul is immortal.

    Our existence, however, is marked by numerous transitions—both between our many lives and sometimes even within the frame of what we view as the current physical life. Emotionally and spiritually, one of our most dramatic transitions involves the leaving of this physical vessel that we currently occupy and the passing to the next realm of our eternal existence.

    For many people this is understandably a traumatic moment and a transition that might be fraught with fear and anxiety, but the lessons of shamanism can provide a perspective that differs significantly from the traditional Western view of dying, which is characterized by the finality of an “ending.” The key to unlocking the mysteries of existence lies in the understanding of the continuity of life and the eternal nature of the soul. Mystery—that wonderful realm of what we sense is there, strive to know, and replicate in our creativity—is the defining nature of spirituality and certainly the essence of our transitional experiences.
    Death And Dying From A Shamanic Perspective — by Jan Engels-Smith

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  6. #186 The Shadows of Grief — by Kat Flannery 
    The room was clean. A large comfy chair with over-sized cushions sat angled in the corner to look out the wide window and see the city. The streetlights flickered like tiny candles reflecting on the snow falling in fat flakes from the sky. It was beautiful and I wanted to remain fixed on the scene outside, to forget all the details I’d been told days before, and just breathe.

    You know, the kind of breath that wasn’t paired with the tightness in my ribs spreading to my chest to constrict my heart, and on some days felt as if I were going to suffocate. I wanted to exhale without my lips trembling, and my eyes misting.

    I sat down in the chair. The room smelled of nothing. No scent wafted in to remind me of happier times, instead the emptiness stole any sense of the outside world, hidden beneath the blanket of despair hanging over me.

    How it happened I couldn’t really say. How I’d spent the last five weeks in a hospital room watching my brother die was still a blur. Life doesn’t come with a textbook full of bullet points to what is next, because if it did, I’d have ripped this page out. How does someone watch a person they care so much for die? I’d been contemplating it for days. I prayed for strength, for a miracle, for peace. I prayed for it all to be a misunderstanding.

    God gave me strength.
    The Shadows of Grief — by Kat Flannery

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  7. #187 How Doctors Die — by Ken Murray 
    Years ago, Charlie, a highly respected orthopedist and a mentor of mine, found a lump in his stomach. He had a surgeon explore the area, and the diagnosis was pancreatic cancer. This surgeon was one of the best in the country. He had even invented a new procedure for this exact cancer that could triple a patient’s five-year-survival odds–from 5 percent to 15 percent–albeit with a poor quality of life. Charlie was uninterested. He went home the next day, closed his practice, and never set foot in a hospital again. He focused on spending time with family and feeling as good as possible. Several months later, he died at home. He got no chemotherapy, radiation, or surgical treatment. Medicare didn’t spend much on him.

    It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.
    How Doctors Die — by Ken Murray

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  8. #188 Advice For Future Corpses — by Sallie Tisdale 
    Death takes many forms. One death is anticipated over months. Another death is stunningly abrupt. And now and then death is held back by technology. I have seen how these deaths are different, and they are all the same, in the end: a person breathes and then breathes no more. He enters a stillness like no other. Breath. Another breath, and then no more. But when the breaths are made by a machine or the blood pressure is sustained by powerful drugs, someone has to make an awful decision.

    Many aspects of medical and nursing care become unnecessary or intrusive for a dying person. Will the result of a lab test change the plan? If not, then don’t do it. Why take another vitamin? Are you really worried about the cholesterol level at this point? You don’t need to check blood pressure routinely. But sometimes a person is already hooked up - intravenous fluids and drugs to raise blood pressure and support for breathing - and the only way to stop the intrusion is to unhook. The advent of machines like defibrillators and ventilators created a new kind of crisis for the dying; one report from the time referred to “this era of resuscitatory arrogance.” A lecture in 1967 about how medicine should define death was called “The Right to Be Let Alone.”
    Journalist and author Virginia Morris pleads for a change of terms: “When we take a terminally ill patient off life support, we are not ‘pulling the plug,’ we are ‘freeing’ the patient to die. We are ‘releasing’ her from excessive technology and invasive treatments. When we allow death to happen, we are not killing people, we are caring for them. We are loving them.”
    Advice For Future Corpses — by Sallie Tisdale

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  9. #189 A good death | An interview with Griefwalker Stephen Jenkinson — by Moon Magazine 
    With a master’s degree in theology from Harvard University and a master’s in social work from the University of Toronto, Stephen Jenkinson was the director of counselling services in the palliative care department at a major Canadian hospital in Toronto for several years, where he encountered the deep “death phobia” and “grief illiteracy” that most of his patients and their loved ones brought to their deathbeds. This work motivated Jenkinson to encourage people to prepare for their death well before its arrival so that they might be free to “participate emotionally in their deaths as they participate in other major life events.”

    In 2010, Jenkinson founded the Orphan Wisdom School, at his farm in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario, Canada. The school provides experiential learning in the skills of “deep living and making human culture.” Jenkinson believes that what modern people “suffer from most is culture failure: amnesia of ancestry and deep family story, phantom or sham rites of passage, no instruction on how to live with each other or with the world around us, or with our dead, or with our history.”
    Here's just a tiny bit of the beginning of the interview...

    The MOON: Why do you say we live in a death-phobic culture?

    Jenkinson: Because we do. And because it seems to me the responsibility of any citizen to be a faithful witness to his or her place and time. The least-welcome things to witness are often the ones that require so much of our attention. So, one of my responsibilities, in particular, is to be alert where the subject of death is concerned, because I worked for quite a long time in what I call the death trade, where you can see every conceivable wrinkle and mayhem regarding the culture’s position on dying—or its lack of a position; its unwillingness to consider it. Over many years, I was routinely obliged to contend with what, on the surface, looked like personal dilemmas with regard to dying. It took me a little while to recognize that what I was seeing really had very little to do with peoples’ personal association with, memories of, or relationship to the idea or the realities of dying. It had much more to do with the fact that people in any culture inherit their understandings of dying much more than they create them. In our case, that inheritance takes the form of an extraordinary degree of aversion to and dread of dying. My phrase for it was that the culture is incontrovertibly and, for the most part, unconsciously death-phobic.
    A good death | An interview with Griefwalker Stephen Jenkinson — by Moon Magazine

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  10. #190 5 Types of Thoughts about Death and How to Handle Them — by Sherrie 
    Have you ever pondered on thoughts about death? No, I don’t mean suicidal thoughts, I mean thoughts of this inevitable conclusion.

    If you’re having thoughts about death, congratulations. You’re a normal human being. We all think about death from time to time, wondering what it will be like and wondering how painful the process will be. Yes, we think about this life’s conclusion in many ways.

    A deeper look at death.

    But, let us look deeper at the causes of our tendency to think about death and ways to handle those uncomfortable thoughts.

    There are thoughts which transcend the pain and finality of death, wouldn’t you think? Death is more than just the sad end and more than just the worst situation. There are a few ways we can look at these death meditations.
    5 Types of Thoughts about Death and How to Handle Them — by Sherrie

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