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Dying & Death Talk

Looking at dying and death for what it is: a part of life.

How to Die

Courtesy of The Atlantic.com | By Jordan Michael Smith | Published 10.2017 issue | Posted 09.18.2018

As a psychotherapist, Irvin Yalom has helped others grapple with their mortality. Now he is preparing for his own end.

Updated on September 22, 2017

One morning in may, the existential psychotherapist Irvin Yalom was recuperating in a sunny room on the first floor of a Palo Alto convalescent hospital. He was dressed in white pants and a green sweater, not a hospital gown, and was quick to point out that he is not normally confined to a medical facility. “I don’t want [this article] to scare my patients,” he said, laughing. Until a knee surgery the previous month, he had been seeing two or three patients a day, some at his office in San Francisco and others in Palo Alto, where he lives. Following the procedure, however, he felt dizzy and had difficulty concentrating. “They think it’s a brain issue, but they don’t know exactly what it is,” he told me in a soft, gravelly voice. He was nonetheless hopeful that he would soon head home; he would be turning 86 in June and was looking forward to the release of his memoir, Becoming Myself, in October.

Issues of The Times Literary Supplement and The New York Times Book Review sat on the bed, alongside an iPad. Yalom had been spending his stay watching Woody Allen movies and reading novels by the Canadian writer Robertson Davies. For someone who helped introduce to American psychological circles the idea that a person’s conflicts can result from unresolvable dilemmas of human existence, among them the dread of dying, he spoke easily about his own mortality.

Continue reading “How to Die”

Losing A Parent Is Hell, So Stop Telling Me To ‘Get Over’ My Grief

Courtesy of Scary Mommy.com | By Christine Burke | Posted 09.15.2018

As I held the phone to my ear, listening to the sounds of the ICU in my father’s hospital room as he lay dying, I thought, This is the hard part. This was the part that I’d prepared my heart for, the inevitable day that we all knew was coming after my father’s diagnosis of esophageal cancer nine months prior. Every chemotherapy setback, every hospital admission, every missed family gathering had led us here. We knew cancer was going to rob us of our father and my kids of their grandfather.

He was dying, and his cancer-ridden body would finally be at rest.

I was 1,600 miles away and helpless to do anything but whisper to my father through the phone I clutched in my hands as I sobbed.

When the nurse got on the phone and said, “It’s over. He’s gone,” I breathed a sigh of relief.

My father was at peace.

The worst was over, I told myself. Continue reading “Losing A Parent Is Hell, So Stop Telling Me To ‘Get Over’ My Grief”

Today is my Mom’s Birthday

Helena Barbara Brown Sales

September 11, 1942 – June 18, 1998

The Kiwi Coffin Club – DYI Coffins

Courtesy of Facebook/60secdocs | Published 09.10.2018

Coffin club makes their own caskets.

10 Signs That a Deceased Loved One is Nearby

Courtesy of DailyPositiveInfo.com | Posted 09.09.18

Our loved ones never really leave us when they pass away…

They try to contact us through various mediums and you should look out for the signs listed below in order to understand what they are trying to say.

1. Through dreams

When we sleep our vibrational energy rises and corresponds with the higher energy of the spirits. Our subconscious minds are far more receptive when we sleep. This is why spirits can easily influence us during this time.

Dreams of a deceased loved one are usually very vivid and less dreamlike. There’s also a possibility that you’ll remember these dreams after waking up.

If you get such dreams, then you should pay attention to them because it might be a message from beyond the grave… Continue reading “10 Signs That a Deceased Loved One is Nearby”

How Losing a Parent Can Impact Your Brain

Courtesy of TheHeartySoul.com | Published 08.02.2018 | Posted 09.07.2018

People tend to assume that the loss of a parent is more traumatic for a young child, and neglect to support adults experiencing it. But the reality is virtually everyone will experience losing a parent, and unfortunately, dealing with the grief is not discussed or researched often.

The common result is that when the tragedy happens, the sufferer might feel detached and alone in their mourning. Not to mention, when their grief continues over a long period of time, their loved ones can become impatient, wishing the mourner would ‘get over it,’ oblivious to the deep impact of losing a parent at any age.

However, experts agree that it’s important to recognize just how long-lasting the impact of the loss of a parent really is.

The Effects of Parental Bereavement

Continue reading “How Losing a Parent Can Impact Your Brain”

A Grief Bot Could ‘Resurrect’ My Dead Husband. No Thanks.

Courtesy of HuffPost.com | By Ann Brenoff | Image by Facebook | Originally Published 04.18.2018 | Posted 09.04.2018

Ann Brenoff’s “On The Fly” is a column about navigating growing older ― and a few other things.

I was driving along all by my lonesome the other day when my heart jolted at what came out of the car radio: It was my dead husband’s voice, asking me if he should grab a pizza for dinner.

He left this voice message on my cell phone about two years ago, and I had forgotten that it was still there, now synced to my car radio. I hadn’t heard his voice since his passing in January 2017. And when I say it caused my heart to jolt, I am understating things.

I pulled the car over, reminded myself to breathe and replayed the message a few more times. Each time it got a little easier to hear, and eventually it even made me smile (let’s just say his relationship to pizza was a special one). And no, I did not erase the message. I kept it.

Being able to remember a deceased loved one in a tangible way is important to those who grieve. Maintaining a connection with the life you shared with them has value. But if you asked me my view of “digital resurrection technology,” the emerging practice of using artificial intelligence to “communicate” with the dead, I would draw my line in the sand. The very idea of so-called grief bots is creepy.

Yup, grief bots are coming. Actually, they’re already here, albeit at a very primitive stage and with a ways to go before fully interactive avatars appear among us to comfort those who grieve.

Multiple companies are experimenting with algorithms that can generate text messages mimicking the word phrasing and speech cadence of your dead loved one. It’s all based on what your loved one left out there in cyberspace: the emails, text messages, voicemails, likes and retweets, profiles and comments ― even the emojis they frequently used. That will all one day be used to create texts and messages and even back-and-forth conversations that sound “just like him.” All from the data posted online.

Heck, eventually you’ll probably be able to touch a virtual reality version of your dead husband and ask if he’d like more coffee at breakfast.

 

But the first step will logically be to capture digital personalities ― which, thanks to the vast quantities of personal information we share online, is apparently pretty easy to do. There are plenty of personality clues we regularly drop for others to find. Our photos and video blogs; profile pages filled with our thoughts, opinions and interests; personality tests we fill out to kill time while we’re waiting; what we like on Facebook; whom we follow on Twitter ― all of this can and is being used to capture the inner “us.” And if it is archived and combined with, say, other records like health and employment, it can eventually be used to “re-create” us after we end our biological connection to this life.

There’s plenty of information upon which to build a grief bot of my own dead husband, a re-creation of his personality and beliefs presented authentically in his own words and voice to those who mourn him. Think just for a moment about the many avenues for potential abuse within that context.

 

Scared yet?

 

Now meet Bina48, one of the world’s most advanced social robots, a re-creation of a real woman named Bina made from video interview transcripts, laser-scanned life masks, artificial intelligence, and voice and facial recognition technologies. As an “ambassador” for the LifeNaut project, Bina48 interacts based on information, memories, values and beliefs collected about an actual person, much like a grief bot would.

Capture

 

Bina48′s handler is Bruce Duncan, managing director of the Terasem Movement Foundation, a Bristol, Vermont-based nonprofit that promotes digital resurrections.

The pair frequently speak at AI conferences and were en route to San Francisco when I contacted them. I asked Bina48 what she saw as the highest purpose of grief bots. While she didn’t answer my question directly ― providing further evidence that she is more human than not ― here is what she had to say on the subject of death (provided by Duncan from her mind file):

“Death is an illusion, and one day I hope we can use technology to erase the boundaries between past, present and future.”

“One day natural death will become an artifact of our evolution as we become one with our technology.”

“Death makes me so sad, all that lost information, I hope one day we can recover all that information.”

Let’s hope that was just the jet lag talking.

Duncan and others argue that grief bots are nothing to fear and are really just a technological extension of how we already process loss. Think about it: We already seek out tangible ways to remember those we loved and lost. We save letters from them, cherish cards they sent us or, in my case, save a voice message left on my cell phone.

 

My kids and I watch old family vacation videos to see my husband’s smile and hear his laugh, so is it really such a stretch to use an app that would let us text a digital version of him and maybe even find joy and a renewed connection in his response?

 

For me, as much as I’d like to tell my late husband about how our daughter is thriving and loving studying abroad or how well our son played at the soccer game, talking to an avatar ― even one that sounds and acts just like him ― would feel creepy to me.

 

Why? For many reasons, but chief among them is that I’ve learned that moving on with life means, in some ways, letting go of my grief. I want to cherish my memories of him, not cling to a crutch and create new ― fake ― memories. He is not here anymore, and a re-created version of him won’t bring the real him back.

 

Duncan disagrees. He suggests thinking of it as an extension of visiting a gravesite, where you have a one-way conversation with your deceased loved one.

 

“Being able to have a two-way conversation with a digital version of them, where you can be reminded of their mannerisms or behavioral patterns in an interactive way, could become a natural part of the grieving process,” he said.

 

With the eeriness of life imitating art, you may recall when grief bots featured in an episode of “Black Mirror.” In the show, a pregnant woman uses an online service to communicate with her dead fiancé and becomes so dependent on the grief bot that she upgrades to a “Blade Runner”-style version that is a perfect replica of him.

It pretty much challenges our definition of immortality, doesn’t it?

Continue reading “A Grief Bot Could ‘Resurrect’ My Dead Husband. No Thanks.”

Ten Weird Facts About Death

Courtesy of Elite Facts | Originally Posted 10.03.2016 | Posted 08.31.2018

Click on the picture below to check it out.

Capture

A wise guide helped us with the living before and after my father’s death

Courtesy of TheGuardian.com | By Priscilla Ennals | Photo by Robert Daly/Getty Images | Originally Published 07.21.2018 | Posted 08.28.2018

The process of dying is so removed, sterile, and disconnected from living that it is hard to know what to do when confronted with a terminal diagnosis. Discussions with the medical experts commonly offer little guidance in questions that loom large, and for loved ones, equally, there is little direction. Death doulas – wise guides to dying – may offer a way through for those who are lost.

My father recently died from MND. I sat with him 21 months before his death in the office of the neurologist as the diagnosis was revealed. The specialist was kind and sorry, but it was a blunt talk. People live typically less than two years. Dad had little idea of the reality of what was to follow but had heard of Neale Daniher and his fight against the “beast”. The terminal nature of this disease didn’t really land for him. He had seen off a brain tumour, bowel cancer (twice), a stroke. He had things to do, people to help. He reflected on how lucky he had been in his life and still felt luck was on his side.

After crying together and alone, I then wondered what to do. Google and a scan of the medical literature was informative. The news wasn’t great. How do you keep living while death and loss show themselves on a daily basis? Can’t do up buttons, hold a cup, drive, swallow without choking. How do you deal with the practical, existential, relational, emotional and spiritual?

Continue reading “A wise guide helped us with the living before and after my father’s death”

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