Monday, November 5, 2018

Epitaph on Elizabeth LH by Ben Jonson

Epitaph on Elizabeth, L. H.

Wouldst thou hear what man can say 
In a little? Reader, stay. 
Underneath this stone doth lie 
As much beauty as could die; 
Which in life did harbour give 
To more virtue than doth live. 
If at all she had a fault, 
Leave it buried in this vault. 
One name was Elizabeth, 
Th' other let it sleep with death: 
Fitter, where it died to tell, 
Than that it liv'd at all. Farewell. 

Epitaph; To Live in Hearts We Leave Behind is Not to Die

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” 
― Thomas Campbell

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Nick Cave on Grieving for His Son

Dear Cynthia,
This is a very beautiful question and I am grateful that you have asked it. It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable. There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves. We are tiny, trembling clusters of atoms subsumed within grief’s awesome presence. It occupies the core of our being and extends through our fingers to the limits of the universe. Within that whirling gyre all manner of madnesses exist; ghosts and spirits and dream visitations, and everything else that we, in our anguish, will into existence. These are precious gifts that are as valid and as real as we need them to be. They are the spirit guides that lead us out of the darkness.
I feel the presence of my son, all around, but he may not be there. I hear him talk to me, parent me, guide me, though he may not be there. He visits Susie in her sleep regularly, speaks to her, comforts her, but he may not be there. Dread grief trails bright phantoms in its wake. These spirits are ideas, essentially. They are our stunned imaginations reawakening after the calamity. Like ideas, these spirits speak of possibility. Follow your ideas, because on the other side of the idea is change and growth and redemption. Create your spirits. Call to them. Will them alive. Speak to them. It is their impossible and ghostly hands that draw us back to the world from which we were jettisoned; better now and unimaginably changed.
With love, Nick.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Monty Python Song Now Number One for Funerals

They came of age in the “swinging sixties,” and now baby boomers are dying as they lived: ditching tradition and replacing it with Monty Python, pop songs and even fancy dress at their funerals.

The generation who grew up with the surreal comedians’ sketches and films is believed to be behind a surge in demand for the song Always Look On the Bright Side of Life at funerals, making it the most popular number to bow out to.

With its famously chirpy lyrics about the absurdity of life and the finality of death, the hit from the irreverent 1979 film Monty Python’s Life of Brian rose from the 13th most commonly chosen song three years ago to the top spot this year, research by The Co-operative Funeralcare revealed.

The more traditional choices of The Lord is My Shepherd and Abide with Me were pushed into second and third place respectively as the Python member behind the song, Eric Idle, proved that comedy conquers all.

Hits by Queen also proved popular choices of funeral music, with nine songs by the band - including Who Wants to Live Forever and Don’t Stop Me Now - among the most commonly chosen.

Notoriously sung from a position of crucifixion at the end of The Life of Brian, it’s become a plucky English anthem, even performed at the 2012 Olympics, and a twinkly stiff-upper-lip send-off. In November 2014, a study by a chain of funeral directors found the 1979 Life of Brian song had overtaken Frank Sinatra's My Way as the preferred choice of music.

Elvis Presley was the most requested solo singer.

Baby boomers jazz up their funerals with Monty Python and fancy dress

Friday, October 26, 2018

Reimagine End of Life Festival: Wonder, Prepare for, and Remember Loss

At the Reimagine Festival, people will gather to talk about all aspects of end of life.

In Wonder
There’s so much we don’t know about death. At Reimagine, take an opportunity to consider, reflect, daydream, philosophize, and learn through a set of unique and often enlivening experiences.

In Preparation
Preparing for death can be an opportunity to set intentions for our lives. Whether planning for ourselves or with loved ones, it’s important to clarify our wishes and consider the many logistical and emotional aspects of death and dying.

In Remembrance
We’ve all experienced loss. Come together to share stories, to connect through our shared experience of grief and loss, and to remember those who will always be with us.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Obituary of a Beloved Mother, Daughter, and Opioid Addict

This obituary is heartbreaking and also wise and instructive.

It is impossible to capture a person in an obituary, and especially someone whose adult life was largely defined by drug addiction. To some, Maddie was just a junkie — when they saw her addiction, they stopped seeing her. And what a loss for them. Because Maddie was hilarious, and warm, and fearless, and resilient. She could and would talk to anyone, and when you were in her company you wanted to stay. In a system that seems to have hardened itself against addicts and is failing them every day, she befriended and delighted cops, social workers, public defenders and doctors, who advocated for and believed in her 'til the end. She was adored as a daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend and mother, and being loved by Madelyn was a constantly astonishing gift....During the past two years especially, her disease brought her to places of incredible darkness, and this darkness compounded on itself, as each unspeakable thing that happened to her and each horrible thing she did in the name of her disease exponentially increased her pain and shame. For 12 days this summer, she was home, and for most of that time she was sober. For those 12 wonderful days, full of swimming and Disney movies and family dinners, we believed as we always did that she would overcome her disease and make the life for herself we knew she deserved. We believed this until the moment she took her last breath. But her addiction stalked her and stole her once again. Though we would have paid any ransom to have her back, any price in the world, this disease would not let her go until she was gone.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

How to Write a Condolence Note

The New York Public Library is presenting our beloved Amy Cunningham to discuss how to write a condolence note.

Join funeral director and Green-Wood Cemetery educator, Amy Cunningham, for this workshop on how to write a condolence letter.

With death ever-present, condolence letters were mainstays of 19th-century life, missives of comfort written straight from the heart. Amy and participants will read copies of letters by Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and Queen Victoria herself with comparisons to modern letter writing. Participants will then review the principles of a good condolence letter. Amy Cunningham is a Brooklyn funeral director who helps families with green burials, cremation services in Green-Wood Cemetery crematory chapels, home vigils, and other sorts of memorials.