Dying & Death Talk

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

Japanese reporter died after clocking 159 hours of overtime

Courtesy of | By Alanna Petroff |Originally Published 10.05.2017 | Posted 12.08.2017

Japan’s public broadcaster has revealed that one of its reporters died from overwork.

NHK said that labor officials had concluded that the 31-year-old political reporter died from heart failure caused by spending long hours on the job.

Japan, known for its ‘salaryman’ culture and punishing work hours, has struggled for years to tackle the impact of overwork on employees’ health. A government study published last year found that one in five workers is at risk of working themselves to death.

Excessive hours are such a big problem that there’s even a Japanese word for death by overwork: karoshi.

According to a news story published by NHK, Miwa Sado had worked 159 hours of overtime in the month before her death.

The circumstances of Sado’s death in 2013 had not been made public until this week.

NHK said it was taking the death of its employee very seriously. The broadcaster has pledged to reform the way its reporters work.

Related: Japan needs more workers but can’t find them

The 2015 suicide of another Japanese worker, Matsuri Takahashi, had previously been linked to overwork.

Japanese regulators found that she had been forced to work excessively long hours at an advertising agency, clocking about 105 hours of overtime in the month leading up to her death. The extreme schedule resulted in her suicide, they ruled.

The CEO of the ad company resigned over the issue.

The parents of Matsuri Takahashi, whose suicide was attributed to overwork, spoke at a news conference in October 2016.

Labor lawyers and citizens groups have for decades pushed for changes to Japanese law to recognize karoshi as a serious social issue. Their efforts resulted in a 2014 law that called for better working conditions but didn’t force companies to act.

–Yoko Wakatsuki and Jethro Mullen contributed to this report.

Why death may not be so final in the future

Courtesy of |By Corey S. Powell | Photos By Charles McGrath, Getty Images File | Originally Posted 11.17.2017 | Published 12.07.2017
Could graveyards become a thing of the past?

Every day, it seems, our lives become a bit less tangible. We’ve grown accustomed to photos, music and movies as things that exist only in digital form. But death? Strange as it sounds, the human corpse could be the next physical object to vanish from our lives.

Within a couple of decades, visiting deceased friends and relatives by traveling to a grassy gravesite may seem as quaint as popping a videotape into your VHS player. By then, our whole experience of death may be drastically different.

If you believe Ray Kurzweil, an outspoken futurist and the director of engineering at Google, computers will soon match the capabilities of the human brain. At that point, our consciousness will become intimately mingled with machine intelligence, leading to a kind of immortality.

“We’re going to become increasingly non-biological, to the point where the biological part isn’t that important anymore,” Kurzweil declared in 2013 at a conference predicting the world of 2045. “Even if the biological part went away, it wouldn’t make any difference.”

But you don’t need to take such speculative leaps to see that the way we deal with death is already in the midst of a wrenching transformation. In 2015, for the first time ever, more people in the U.S. were cremated than buried, according to the National Funeral Director’s Association.

Crowded urban cemeteries, along with a new eco-friendly cremation method known as alkaline hydrolysis, promise to continue the trend. By 2030, the association predicts, less than one-quarter of the dead will receive traditional casket burials. The rest will end up…well, that’s the question.


With the changes in how we handle the departed come changes in how we remember them.

Koukokuji temple head priest Yajima Taijun prays inside the Ruriden columbarium on April 6, 2015 in Tokyo. Chris McGrath / Getty Images File

In the futuristic Ruriden memorial in Tokyo, human remains are packed behind walls of glowing Buddha statues. When visitors swipe a key card, a wash of colorful LED lights illuminate the location of their dearly departed.

Elsewhere, funeral companies are promoting tombstones embossed with QR codes. Scanning them on your phone will call up a related video or web page. That approach prompts a snicker from Megan Rosenbloom, a leader in the death-acceptance movement and founder of a series of associated events that she calls Death Salons.

“Do you have a QR code reader on your phone?” she asks. “A century from now, will anyone even have any idea what that is?”

That’s a key issue for death in the digital age: Software goes out of date quickly, but memorials are meant to last forever. Today even keeping track of who is here and who is gone is a challenge. At some point you’ve probably had the unnerving experience of receiving a Facebook reminder to celebrate a birthday of a friend who is no longer alive.


Entrepreneurs are rushing in to solve this problem of “digital death curation.”

A site called the Digital Beyond maintains a list of dozens of companies that handle everything from closing out social media accounts and maintaining permanent cloud-based obituaries to creating interactive online memorials. Many of them allow you to post posthumous text and videos, or even to send scheduled messages to your loved ones long after you’re gone.

If the concept sounds creepy, it may be that you haven’t adapted yet to the fast-changing culture. “I think it’s all positive,” Rosenbloom says. “I don’t want to take up permanent real estate in a cemetery, but I do want to be remembered. Physical, virtual: the more the merrier.”

There’s an old joke that on the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. An updated version of that might be that on the internet, no one knows you’re dead. Chatbots — computer programs that emulate a person’s conversational style — could keep your digital self talking long after your physical self has stopped breathing.

Russian startup called Luka has created a chatbot that simulates conversations with Prince. It can take on many other guises as well. Luka’s co-founder, Eugenia Kuyda, programmed a bot to mimic a close friend who died in 2015.

Taking the idea a step further, computer scientist Hossein Rahnama of the MIT Media Lab is developing what he calls “augmented eternity.” It would mine all the information about a dead person to create a detailed virtual presence. His nominal goal is to simulate famous historical figures as an educational tool, but the same approach could be applied to any person.


Rahnama’s big-data approach to artificial intelligence parallels the way that researchers at IBM taught their Watson artificial intelligence platform how to think like a person. Six years ago, Watson famously defeated Ken Jennings to become the first machine Jeopardy champion, in large part by assimilating complex cultural knowledge.

Kurzweil thinks we’ll follow a similar path to the Singularity, the hypothetical time (around 2029, by his estimate) when the great blurring between humans and computers will occur. If he’s right, questions about what to do with the body at death will then become largely irrelevant.

“We can create bodies with nanotechnology, we can create virtual bodies in virtual reality,” Kurzweil says. “I think we’ll have a choice of bodies; we’ll certainly be routinely changing our parent body in virtual reality.”

Many scoff at Kurzweil’s vision, questioning not only its technological feasibility but also its philosophical desirability. Fantasizing about immortality keeps people from living their best lives right now, Rosenbloom argues. “It feeds into death denial. When there’s no longer a deadline on your life, it takes away a lot of the motivations that we have in our life.”

Like it or not, some forms of digital afterlife are here already, and more elaborate ones are on the way. Just as today’s kids have never laid hands on a VHS cassette, so they may soon find it strange that anyone ever traveled to a distant graveyard rather than activating a virtual memorial experience they can call up anywhere, anytime


Giving permission to die – – the final gift — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

Death, Dying, End of Life Information, Book Reviews, and Advocacy

Important information and something loved ones might not think of: giving permission to your family member or friend to die. If it was in the reverse, would you not want the same?

via Giving permission–the final gift

via Giving permission to die – – the final gift — Loss, Grief, Bereavement and Life Transitions Resource Library

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What NOT to Say When Someone is Dying

Courtesy of A Place For Mom - Senior Living Blog | By Sarah Stevenson | Originally Published 10.21.2013 | Published 12.06.2017

Just because we’re in a caregiving role doesn’t mean we know what to say when faced with end-of-life decisions. What is the etiquette when a loved one is dying?

t’s a truism to say that death is a natural part of life, a situation we will all face someday. True though they may be, such words may not be adequate to encompass our emotions when we are actually faced with the death of a loved one. Platitudes, while comforting, don’t offer a lot of specific guidance for caregivers on what to say or do when an aging parent is dying. How to talk to loved ones about their end-of-life wishes, how to include other family members in important decisions, and how to treat the dying person with dignity and respect—these are the key issues caregivers need to know how to address when the time comes. Knowing the right words to share difficult information or express condolences is not the only important consideration, either. In many cases, knowing what not to say is just as important. Continue reading “What NOT to Say When Someone is Dying”

The Holidays and Bereavement

Death, Dying, End of Life Information, Book Reviews, and Advocacy

A good article on grief, mourning, and bereavement… and the holidays.

For many, the upcoming holidays are a happy and joyful time filled with family, friends, gifts, food, and time spent together. For others, the upcoming holidays are a time that makes them sad, sorrowful, unhappy and brings back memories of a loved one.

For those affected by grief-it is a time to create new traditions, to adjust to a holiday without a spouse or other family member. Be patient. Be gentle with yourself. Allow the memories, allow quiet time for yourself. Speak up and talk to friends and family so they understand how you feel. For those on the other side, meaning a family member or friend who is watching one go through the mourning process-also be patient, be kind, be understanding, be gentle.

Here is another link that will assist the individual in bereavement and mourning. It…

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Facing the final stage of life

Courtesy of | Posted 12.05.2017

Some people have cancer that no longer responds to treatment and must face the fact that they will soon die. This is scary for the person who is sick and for those around them. Your friend may be in pain, may be bedridden, may be able to walk only a few steps, or may be confused. It’s hard to watch someone you care about go through this process of decline.

Being there

No matter how hard it may be, it’s still important to try to be there for your friend. They may feel lonely even if there are people around. This is because the people nearby may not be really in tune with what’s going on with them. Just by staying close and listening with a smile or gentle touch, you show you are there. It takes courage and extra energy to do this.

Sometimes the person with advanced cancer may pull away from people and seem to be withdrawing as death nears. This is natural and is one way of disconnecting from life. This process and what you might expect at this time is described in our information called Nearing the End of Life. The best thing you can do at this time is take you friend’s cue – simply stay in the background and be available. Try not to take this withdrawal personally or feel hurt when your friend pulls away. It likely has nothing to do with you.

Talking about death and dying

Many people worry about what to say when a person talks about dying. But this is a common topic when facing cancer. Some people want to talk about the dying process – they want to know what to expect. Some want to make sure that their wishes are followed when it comes to death. For example, they want to be sure that machines are not used to keep them alive. Some want to know how they will die, and ask, “What will happen when I’m actually dying?” For answers to these questions and concerns, it helps to find experts in hospice care or care of the terminally ill. If you don’t know the answers to specific questions, you can say, “I don’t know, but we can call some people who can help us with those answers.” These professionals can guide you and your friend by helping figure out things like living wills and advance directives and explaining the things that might happen as death gets closer.

Hospice staff members are used to answering these questions, and they are skilled in doing it in a supportive, caring way. Hospice gives expert, compassionate care for people with advanced disease. We have more about end-of-life issues or hospice care that may be helpful. We also have information on living willsadvanced cancer, and caring for the cancer patient at home.

Your friend may ask, “Why is this happening to me?” It’s very hard to hear this question because there’s no answer. And it can be heart-wrenching to feel the pain that lies within questions like this. In most cases, the simple answer is “I don’t know.” Holding your friend’s hand and letting them cry or talk about their sadness and regrets is the best you can do. Allowing a person to do this is a true help because many people avoid the subject of dying and won’t allow themselves to share this pain.

Some people who know they’re going to die feel the need to get some things off their chests. They may want to talk about some of the things they did in their life that they’re not proud of or that they regret. They may want to apologize for these things. They may want to give you advice about the lessons they learned or instructions about what to do for them in the future. Respectfully listening and, of course, offering forgiveness and a loving attitude are often all that’s necessary. There are no magic words for the dying person, but often your presence is all that’s needed, and having an open heart is priceless.

How Living People Are Wrongfully Pronounced Dead

Courtesy of | By Simon Davis | Originally Published 08.31.2016 | Posted 12.04.2017
Each year, about 1,000 living people are erroneously added to the Death Master File, a database of every American who has died since 1936.

A few weeks ago, Barbara Murphy was having dinner with her husband at a restaurant in Utah when her credit card was declined. Her husband paid the bill, and when they got home, Murphy’s granddaughter called the bank to see what was wrong.

“Of course, it’s been declined,” the bank’s representative told her. “She’s been dead for two years.”

Murphy is, in fact, very much alive. When I spoke to her on the phone this week, she described the agonizing process of proving her life to numerous institutions, all of which believed she had died.

Murphy has been erroneously added to the Death Master File (DMF), a Social Security Agency (SSA) database of every American who has died and was issued a social security number from 1936 onward. It contains approximately 88 million records, each with a name, Social Security number, date of birth, and date of death. When the SSA made the database available for purchase in 1980, financial institutions started to rely on it for fraud detection. Continue reading “How Living People Are Wrongfully Pronounced Dead”

The heartbreaking story of an old man and his cat

Courtesy of the Washington Post | 

When Akiko DuPont’s grandfather, Jiji, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, his smile progressively disappeared as he shut himself from the world. That’s when Kinako, the cat, entered his life, said DuPont, a freelance photographer based in Tokyo and London. “One day, Jiji wandered into my room and found the cat. His eyes shined with happiness.”

Jiji fought in World War II and trained to become a kamikaze fighter. He was supposed to take flight on Aug. 15, 1945. That day instead, Japan, reeling from two atomic attacks, surrendered. After that, Jiji commuted every day to put bread on the table for his family, back and forth to the office for more than 60 years until he retired. “He was a very organized person and for as long as I can remember he scrapbooked articles in newspapers as his hobby,” DuPont said.

Kinako is a “scaredy-cat,” as DuPont called it: a loving but very shy cat. “He loved interrupting or trying to get Jiji’s attention when he was on his newspaper clipping missions,” she said.

The two quickly developed a symbiotic relationship. “When they were tired, they often napped together, even sleeping in similar poses,” DuPont said. “It was genuinely funny and heartwarming to look at them.” Continue reading “The heartbreaking story of an old man and his cat”

How Will You Die?

Courtesy of Lion's Roar| By Lindsay Kyte | Originally Published 11.22.2017 | Posted 12.02.2017

Buddhist wisdom for people who are dying — and those who love them.

Death Is Here Now: Koshin Paley Ellison & Robert Chodo Campbell

I didn’t know what to do. I was at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care to talk with Koshin Paley Ellison and Robert Chodo Campbell about their Buddhist approach to end-of-life care. But they were dealing with death right in front of me. “One of my dear friends is dying right now,” Koshin had just informed me, with tears in his eyes.

“Oh… I’m so sorry. We can reschedule if this is a bad time?” I offered, wishing I knew the right words to say. This made them both smile, and Chodo reached for my hand.

“Lindsay, isn’t this story on death and dying?” he said gently. “Yes,” I replied, terrified of the emotion so present in that moment. “Well, welcome to it,” Chodo stated. “Here it is, right now, in this room.”

“Death is the most important spiritual teaching.”

Continue reading “How Will You Die?”

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