Category Archives: Death and dying

Should we rage against death, or enjoy the charmed spaces of life? | Ian Jack

An Ingmar Bergman classic is a reminder not just of the inevitable but of the small happinesses we should all treasure

As a treat on my 73rd birthday, I went to see The Seventh Seal. Treat may seem an unlikely word in the previous sentence: Ingmar Bergman’s film is almost certainly the most memorable depiction of death in the history of cinema, and death is far closer to me now – its ordinary fact a greater presence in my life – than it was when I first saw the film 50 years ago.

Related: The Seventh Seal

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Source: gad

What terminally ill children taught this doctor about how to live

Dr Alastair McAlpine asked some of young patients what gave them joy and meaning – their answers surprised him

As a pediatric palliative care physician, I spend my days working with children who have life-threatening or life-limiting illnesses and their families.

Although many people think of us as the harbingers of death, in reality, doctors like us aim to maximize quality of life, especially when that life is likely to be shortened. We recognize that these children are so much more than just their illness and that they are part of a family. We focus not just on their medical needs but also on their psychosocial and spiritual ones as well.

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Source: gad

The new death industry: funeral businesses that won’t exploit grief

From the ‘mushroom death suit’ to no funeral at all, entrepreneurs are transforming the burial sector

Most of us come to terms with paying taxes, even if we don’t much like it. But it’s harder to face up to what Benjamin Franklin famously said was the only other certainty in life: our deaths. And that’s a problem, because in England alone, around half a million of us die every year, leaving our bereaved families to arrange our funerals and, for the 59% who haven’t made a will, deal with the administrative and emotional miseries caused when a loved one dies intestate.

Death needn’t be as mysterious or expensive as it has become. That’s according to a new band of entrepreneurs who are aiming to challenge what they claim is the oppressive and sometimes exploitative industry that profits from our inevitable demise.

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Source: gad

‘It was an incredibly enriching day’: the families taking control of death

We plan for births, but fail to take full charge with deaths. Annalisa Barbieri meets the families who are building coffins, cancelling the hearses and creating highly personalised funeral services – before, sadly, putting her new knowledge to use

Six years ago, my cousin died. As we waited on the kerb, my aunt, her mother, reached out, as if to touch her daughter’s coffin through the glass of the hearse window. “I hate to think of her in that box,” she said. And a chink of brutal reality hit me; this was not like any funeral I had seen at a roadside before. This was her child, in a box in a car. The tragedy was only accentuated by how alien it all felt.

I had, not long before, given birth to my second child at home, with my eldest upstairs asleep, and the promise of blueberry pancakes (and a martini) after. I started to think about how much preparation we put into birth: making birth plans, reading books, talking about it, everything to make it as perfect – personal – as possible. Death is more certain than giving birth, but we rarely talk about it or want to plan for it. Yet when death comes, funerals are, as my partner says, “the ultimate distress purchase”.

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Source: gad