Jazz funerals offer an intriguing look into another way of commemorating death and acknowledging community grief.
Those who enjoy mocking people for grieving celebrities are small minded and mean spirited, but they’re also straight up wrong. There’s more than one kind of attachment to the dead.
I recently finished reading Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, which is an excellent read for those of you who are interested in a glimpse into the modern funeral industry, and into alternative approaches to death and dying. It’s not a polemic, nor is it a pat panacea, but rather an acknowledgement of the fact that death and […]
In death, it seems that people become saintly, with reputations for perfection that quickly calcify around them. In the hours and days following their last breaths, they’re turned into airbrushed, hyperreal yet also fictional versions of themselves in the workrooms of funeral homes, but also in the imagination. Instead of acknowledging people as they are, […]
A friend of mine died late last year. I’m not telling you this because I want your expressions of sympathy, but more as a statement of fact: She was alive, and now she is dead. She died because she had cancer and it metastasized and she chose to accept her death, spending her last few […]
I visited a friend in hospital recently. She’s nearing the end of her life, and she’s been having an ongoing negotiation with the hospital staff about what that’s going to look like — she recognises that she’s dying and wants to do so relatively peacefully, preferably in the comforts of her own home. Some of […]
In a world where religious faith feels dominant — where most people subscribe on some level to a belief that there is a higher power, to varying degrees of intensity and seriousness from cafeteria Catholics to devout Muslims to casual Jews, being a nonbeliever can be incredibly isolating. Especially when people make ignorant, peculiar, and […]
Grief is a complicated thing, with a series of social strictures about how grieving people are supposed to behave when they lose friends, loved ones, family members. These usually revolve around ‘getting over it’ and ‘getting back to business’ as though nothing has happened, requiring people to suffocate their grief in a tiny box and […]
In the course of the last fifty years, death has become a very strange industry in the mainstream white United States. At the same time that we lavishly display our dead and spend tens of thousands of dollars on elaborate ceremonies for them, we also distance ourselves from them; I am reminded in some senses […]
In recent years, there’s been much discussion about the concept of ‘complicated grief’ and whether it should be viewed as a psychiatric disorder, which has brought the idea into the popular consciousness. As explored in a psychiatric and psychological sense, it refers to extreme symptoms like numbness, difficulty with daily tasks, pining, agitation, depression, and […]