Sunday Sundries 8

Image from A.K. Rockefeller on Flickr (CC2.0)

Image from A.K. Rockefeller on Flickr (CC2.0)

It’s that time of the week again when we do a wrap-up of interesting death stuff from around the web:

Yesterday, we had the great pleasure of attending the Digital Legacy Conference in London (a full recap coming soon!) where we heard a range of excellent talks from speakers in the fields of death, medical care and the tech industry on how the digital age is changing dying, grief and memorials. Now let’s all go and make a Social Media Will!  Dead Social has a whole bunch of free tutorials to help you get your digital affairs in order.

In other news, scientists in South Africa may have just found the world’s oldest preserved human skin, on a 2 million year old fossil of Australopithecus sediba. This could offer new insights into our evolutionary ancestry and is possibly the oldest human soft tissue ever discovered.

Hyde Park pet cemetery. Image from "19th century photographs" online. Photographer unknown.

Hyde Park pet cemetery. Image from “19th century photographs” online. Photographer unknown.

The BBC ran an article on the rising popularity of pet cemeteries in the UK. Instead of burying Rover in the back garden, more and more people are looking for a permanent memorial and funeral for their companion animals. Of course, this is not a new thing, as this article on London Insight on the beautiful Victorian Hyde Park pet cemetery shows.

Ever wondered what actually happens to your body after you die? Of course you have! Ars Technica gives you all the details.

Finally, how did we miss this? Everyone’s favourite mortician and founder of the Order of the Good Death, Caitlin Doughty, examines the hidden dead of London along with Dr Lindsey Fitzharris, medical historian and all-round lovely person. Check out Lindsey’s channel, Under the Knife, as well.

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Sunday Sundries 7

Image from Buzzfeed.

Image from Buzzfeed.

It’s been a while since we did one of these, but there’s been some interesting articles about death online recently, so here’s what we found this week:

The Death Projects is a brilliant deathly site that we’ve only just come across, and are now happily devouring their articles. Of particular interest was the “6 reasons you should be thinking more about death“. Turns out, a healthy interest in the end of life can make you healthier, happier and more caring as well as giving you a new appreciation of life.

The same site also shared some of the Dalai Lama’s thoughts about death, which are profound even if you’re not a Buddhist:

“I view death as a normal process, a reality that I accept will occur as long as I remain in this earthly existence. Knowing that I cannot escape it, I see no point in worrying about it. I tend to think of death as being like changing your clothes when they are old and worn out, rather than as some final end.”

When I (Ryan) spent some time living and volunteering in North Dakota, I learned that burying the dead in winter was impossible due to the permanently frozen ground. Bodies were kept in a morgue until spring, when the ice thawed, and then burials were held at a rate of several a day. Vice Magazine shares a similar tale of the difficulties of burial in Alaska.

Buzzfeed has a fascinating list of 31 strange and disturbing facts about death. Enjoy!

And finally, a reminder that the Digital Legacy Conference is happening next Saturday (23 May) at UCL, London, looking at death and dying in the modern, digital age. It’s free to attend too!

Sunday Sundries 6

As you may know, we’ve been away for a bit, but we’re getting back into our regular posting schedule again now. So here’s what we found online this week:

The Huffington Post discusses why cremation is more popular than ever in the US. There are a number of factors contributing to this change in funerary practice, including the fact that as people become more mobile, the traditional ‘family plot’ is becoming less relevant. Changing religious practices also seem to play a role, with less social pressure to have a traditional Christian funeral. Check out the article, it also has a lovely infographic!

"Sylivia" at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Seattle. Image from Strange Remains.

“Sylivia” at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Seattle. Image from Strange Remains.

The Tumblr “Strange Remains” has a great post looking at some of the more bizarre ways human remains have been displayed over the years, not just in museums but in curiosity shops, restaurants and even public bathrooms. Given the controversy of displaying human remains even in more traditional museum settings, it’s eye-opening to see how people’s attitudes to corpses-on-display can be so different. Quirky or distasteful? What do you think?

In weird news, my favourite story of the week has to be the man who was arrested and fined in Portsmouth, UK, for pretending to be a ghost in a local cemetery. Oh dear, that’s my weekend plans gone then!

If you’re in the UK (or can do some sneaky stuff online) you can watch the new series “The Beauty of Anatomy” on BBC iPlayer. The first episode discussed the legacy of the ancient anatomist Galen and how his ideas held sway until Leonardo da Vinci and others began to practice human dissections.

If you can’t view that, but still want a cool anatomy fix, the first edition of Vesaluis’ famous De Humani Corporis Fabrica is available as a digitised copy from the US National Library of Medicine. Seriously, check this out. It’s some of the most beautiful and interactive digitisation of a text I’ve ever seen!

And finally, I leave you with this charming and very funny animation about a couple of very dedicated undertakers:

 

Sunday Sundries 5

Hurrah! It’s that time of the week again and we know this is what you’ve all been waiting for. Another Sunday Sundries!

While not necessarily a new video, I rediscovered this in my bookmarks and wanted to share it with all of you lovely people. What a commendable project and a definite return to some of the old ways that have been lost in communities due to modernity and new generations moving away.

Next up, morticians doing magic tricks and chocolate-covered caskets? It can only be a fun funeral! Great article about the phenomenon from HuffPo.

From fun funerals to tasty ones, Death Salon’s own Sarah Troop has a wonderful article on Modern Loss, all about funerary food. Definitely one to make you feel peckish.

I’m fascinated by death and technology, especially how we discuss dying through social media. Here are two great resources: an article about live-tweeting a person’s death and a brilliant infographic about our ‘digital demise’ from DeadSoci.al.

Finally, something pretty. HT to Caitlin Doughty of The Order of the Good Death who shared this on Facebook earlier in the week. The picture comes with an interesting article too!

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Until next time, stay death positive!

Sunday Sundries 4

18th century Scottish gravestone featuring Memento Mori. Image from Martyn Gorman (CC2.0)

18th century Scottish gravestone featuring Memento Mori. Image from Martyn Gorman (CC2.0)

It’s Sunday again, which means time for more deathly nuggets found on the interwebs this week!

First up is The Conversation Project, an excellent site filled with downloadable resources to help people talk openly about their wishes for end-of-life care. The Project website says:

“Too many people are dying in a way they wouldn’t choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain.

It’s time to transform our culture so we shift from not talking about dying to talking about it. It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves.”

Do check them out and download a Conversation Starter Kit to help you have ‘the conversation’ with your loved ones.

Next, LiveScience has an image gallery of the anatomist and artist Gunther von Hagens recent work, the Animals Inside Out touring exhibition. I got to see this in London and it was breathtaking. Gunther uses ‘plastination‘ techniques to preserve the muscle, tissue and even blood vessels of animals (and humans) and turns them into scientific exhibits that are also works of art.

While on the topic of animals, here are nine touching epitaphs that ancient Greeks and Romans wrote for their deceased dogs. Just goes to show that the companionship of pets really is timeless.

Here at Deathly Ponderings, we’d also like to congratulate the Morbid Anatomy Museum in New York, which has opened this weekend. I hope to be able to visit there one day!

Right, that’s about it for another week. Let’s leave you with this rather wonderful creation of artist Thomas Kuntz, a hand-cranked automaton of a skeleton playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, because why not?

 

Image credit: 18th century Scottish gravestone featuring Memento Mori. Image from Martyn Gorman (CC2.0)

Sunday Sundries 3

Hello and happy Sunday! Welcome to another Sunday Sundries post, where we share interesting things that we have found from around the Internet this week.

First up is a powerful talk from David R. Dow. Prof. Dow is a death penalty defence lawyer  and runs a death penalty clinic at University of Houston Law Centre where law students help with representing individuals currently serving time on death row. He is also the founder of the Texas Innocence Network where law students investigate claims of actual innocence by Texas prisoners.

In this talk, Prof. Dow talks at length about the stages that a person goes through that can lead up to their execution, looking at both influences in their lives and upbringing as well as the legal process. A lot of what Prof. Dow speaks of relates to preventing murders. On Deathly Ponderings, we discuss representations of death and dying in many different parts of society, and murder is certainly not excluded from these discussions.

Next up we have something completely different from Prof John Troyer from the Unversity of Bath’s Centre for Death and Society who talks about the concept of Future Death. For those of you that went to the recent Death Salon UK, Prof Troyer gave a relatively similar talk so you might remember some of this. For those of you that were not able to attend, here’s a chance to catch up!

Finally, some fun links.

First up we have a superbly wonderful deathly Death Acceptance Reading List from the lovely folk at The Order of the Good Death. We’re certainly going to be adding some of these to our reading wishlists! What would you add to this list?

Next we have an interesting article from Mashable that looks at various business ventures that focus on death, disposal and remembrance. What would your entrepreneurial new deathly business idea be?

Lastly, a very powerful quote from writer Caitlin Moran and illustrated by the wonderfully talented Gavin Aung Thang, the person behind Zen Pencils. Certainly gives you something to think about when trying to be accepting of death and reality that that brings.

Image credit: Trey Ratcliff via Flickr Creative Commons

Sunday Sundries 2

Welcome to this week’s roundup of interesting deathly miscellanea we’ve found on the interwebs recently. Let’s begin with the recently deceased Rik Mayall, a truly great comic actor, talking in his usual irreverent style about why we shouldn’t fear death:

https://static.squarespace.com/static/52ccc88ae4b00bc0dba01b72/t/52cf2690e4b0f83aafd7b961/1402711932069/?format=1500wThe GroundSwell Project is an interesting initiative in Australia designed by Clinical Psychologist Kerrie Noonan, and Playwright Peta Murray in late 2009, to encourage deep engagement with death in society. To do this, they use art, film and creative speakers to open discussion of death acceptance. Go check them out, on their site, on YouTube and on Twitter.

One thing they have on their website is a link (Dying to Know) to all the many great TED talks that have dealt with death. There’s a lot of excellent viewing on there, but I wanted to share one video in particular: Jae Rhim Lee talking about her environmentally-friendly mushroom burial suit. It’s not at all like that episode of Hannibal, don’t worry! But it is pretty cool.

And finally, the webcomic xkcd has a fascinating series of ‘what if’ questions discussed in terms of science and statistics. One such question is what would happen to the human population if just one extra person were to die per second. Check it out HERE. Mentioning xkcd also gives me an excuse to post this:

That’s all for this week’s Sunday Sundries, be sure to look out for more deathly posts from us soon!

 

 

Sunday Sundries

origin_3359385248As some of you more regular readers may already know, we have a Facebook page for Deathly Ponderings! We often share interesting articles, videos and other resources there as and when we find them on the Great Interwebs. So go and like us today!

However, rather than keep all of our found goodies on Facebook, we thought it would be nice to share a few on the blog too, so this will be the first of (hopefully) many Sunday Sundries posts where we share a few deathly nuggets that really interested us this week.

First up is a really interesting video from Hemant Mehta who blogs as The Friendly Atheist. A lot of death traditions and philosophies come from many different areas and cultures, with religious belief having a huge influence on how death is perceived and processed by humanity. However, we rarely hear about viewpoints on death from those who do not have this religious influence. So, have a listen to what Hemant has to say. It is certainly an interesting addition to the deathly discourse in society.

Next up is a fascinating TED talk from philosopher Stephen Cave who talks about our focus on immortality, among other things. He is a great speaker and really does take his audience on a journey through humanity’s interactions with death and what that means for us as a species.

Let us know what you thought of these videos. Also, if you find anything fun and deathly, pass it on! We’d love to see it!

Image credits: Todd Hall (header image) & Jes (bird skull)
Both via Flickr Creative Commons