Do kids belong at funerals?

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Alzheimer’s – the slow death

My Aunt AnClockn has Alzheimer’s. She is the fifth person in our family who is suffering with it.

Even though this is my 5th family member with the disease, it isn’t any easier than it was when my dad died in 1986.

He was the 1st family member to have it – early onset. He died at age 57; buried with full military honors (Lt. Col. Charles Parrish). He was exposed to nuclear testing and Agent Orange during his military career; they say that’s most likely what caused his early onset and early death.

At the time of my father’s death, our family provided a 3 generation genetic bank for the Bryan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, which helped researcher’s worldwide locate and identify the APOE e4 gene. <click the links to learn more>

My grandmother (Ann’s mother), father (Ann’s brother), and Ann’s oldest sister (Aunt Laura) have all passed away.

Ann’s ‘just older’ sister, Peggy, is at the blissfully unaware stage. By that I mean she doesn’t know anyone & no longer speaks or worries about anything. Peggy is lost within her own world now.

Ann is 79, and is well into the disease, but remains cheerful and pleasant to all. When she meets someone, Ann will say – with a big smile on her face, “Hello. My name is Ann and I have Alzheimer’s so I’m going to be repeating myself.”

I bring this up not only to spread the word about Alzheimer’s but to share the opportunities it gave my family; and hopefully someone reading this will benefit from the information.

The advantages of our family’s Alzheimer’s experience is that we’ve learned that time is fleeting and memories are precious.

To help you and your family, I like to offer the following insights to the benefits of The Slow Death.. .

  • My family had the chance to ‘soak up’ each member of our family because we knew their mind and memories would soon be gone.
  • We shared the stories, names & important dates of our past family members; so future generations would know their heritage.
  • We labeled photographs so the names of the people and the event when it was taken wouldn’t be lost to us forever.
  •  We learned how to help them cope with their deteriorating memory by offering them a notebook to write every visit, thought, memory in. And once, they lost the ability to read and write, we kept it for them and read it to them.. repeatedly.
  • We all learned to be more patience than any Parrish ever had before! We are strong willed and outspoken usually, but learned to react more slowly and empathetically with each new challenge.
  • We have all been advocates for Alzheimer’s – participating in studies, Alzheimer’s Walk to Remember
  •  We learned that even with a lot of time to prepare – we never quite were.
  • We talked about funeral wishes… and butterflies, flowers or gifts… a PRICELESS discussion when the time came.
  • We laughed over our proposed Epitaphs..
  • We shared our past losses, things that left a hole in our soul.
  • We ALL have preplanned and paid for our funerals.

To quickly sum it up, we grabbed every moment, every memory, every piece of information and planning ahead for the inevitable while we could. Because as anyone who has gone through A Slow Death of any type they KNOW how fleeting these precious moments are.

HELPFUL LINKS: (if you don’t see what you need, leave me a comment below, I’ll find it for you)

I recommend that you look these up NOW! Don’t delay.. you and your loved ones will be so very grateful you did.

 

 

 

 

 

Death with Dignity or Sucide?

I’m sure you’ve heard the debate over whether or not Brittany Manard’s decision to end her life when she decides that she no longer has any quality of life, is a burden, etc.

The debate online has my head spinning.

“When people criticize me for not waiting longer, or, you know, whatever they’ve decided is best for me, it hurts,” she says, “because really, I risk it every day, every day that I wake up.”

I honestly don’t know how I’d feel or what I would do if I had received medical news similar to hers.

I do know this:

  • my thoughts and prayers are with her and her family as they all go through this unimaginably difficult time
  • her story has me celebrating each day and I appreciate her brave reminder to treasure each and every day
  • my heart breaks for what people are saying about her instead of just loving her, and hurting along side her and praying for her

Brittany Maynard’s right to die  video

Brittany Maynard, terminally ill woman on decision to die: Now ‘doesn’t seem like the right time’

By Catherine E. Shoichet
(CNN) — Brittany Maynard says she hasn’t decided yet when she’ll end her life, but it’s a decision she’s still determined to make.

“I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time right now,” Maynard says in a video released to CNN on Wednesday. “But it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It’s happening each week.”

Courtesy: Brittany Maynard

Maynard says she has stage IV glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive form of terminal brain cancer. In April, she says, doctors gave her six months to live.

The 29-year-old Oregon woman’s story spread rapidly on social media after she revealed her plans to take medication to end her life. A video explaining her choice has garnered more than 8.8 million views on YouTube. And she’s become a prominent spokeswoman for the “death with dignity” movement, which advocates that terminally ill patients be allowed to receive medication that will let them die on their own terms. She’s also become a lightning rod for criticism from people who oppose that approach.

In her latest statement, a nearly six-minute video produced and released by end-of-life choice advocacy group Compassion & Choices, Maynard acknowledges that some have been skeptical about her story.

“When people criticize me for not waiting longer, or, you know, whatever they’ve decided is best for me, it hurts,” she says, “because really, I risk it every day, every day that I wake up.”

Compassion & Choices spokesman Sean Crowley declined CNN’s request to speak with Maynard’s doctors, saying they “prefer to remain anonymous for now because opponents of death with dignity sometimes harass doctors who write aid-in-dying prescriptions.”

Maynard says her health has been getting worse. She describes a recent “terrifying” day when she had two seizures and found herself unable to say her husband’s name.

“I think sometimes people look at me and they think. ‘Well you don’t look as sick as you say you are,’ which hurts to hear, because when I’m having a seizure and I can’t speak afterwards, I certainly feel as sick as I am,” she says, her voice cracking as she tears up.

When she first started speaking out about her decision, Maynard said she planned to take the medication she’d been prescribed in early November. In her latest video, she says she’s still waiting to see how her symptoms progress before deciding on a date.

But taking too long to make that choice is now one of her greatest fears, Maynard says in the video.

“The worst thing that could happen to me is that I wait too long because I’m trying to seize each day,” she says, “but I somehow have my autonomy taken away from me by my disease because of the nature of my cancer.”

National campaign

Compassion & Choices says the latest video, which was recorded on October 13 and 14, is part of a campaign “to expand access to death with dignity in California and other states nationwide.”

Maynard was living in California when doctors diagnosed her with brain cancer.

“We had to uproot from California to Oregon, because Oregon is one of only five states where death with dignity is authorized,” she said in an opinion column she wrote for CNN earlier this month.

Oregon, Washington and Vermont have “death with dignity” laws that allow terminally ill, mentally competent residents to voluntarily request and receive prescription drugs to hasten their death. Judicial decisions in Montana and New Mexico authorize doctors to prescribe fatal drug doses in such circumstances, although the rulings haven’t become state law.

Now, changing that has become part of Maynard’s mission.

“My goal, of course, is to influence this policy for positive change. And I would like to see all Americans have access to the same health care rights,” she says in her latest video.

But she says she’s also focused on simpler goals.

“They mostly do boil down to my family and friends and making sure they all know how important they are to me and how much I love them,” she says.

Family supports her decision

The video also includes statements from Maynard’s family. Her mother, Debbie Ziegler, says she supports her daughter.

“It’s not my job to tell her how to live, and it’s not my job to tell her how to die,” she says. “It’s my job to love her through it.”

Her husband, Dan Diaz, says they’re taking things day by day.

“That’s the only way to get through this. You take away all of the material stuff, all the nonsense that we all seem to latch onto as a society,” he says, “and you realize that those moments are really what matter.”

Last week, Maynard visited the Grand Canyon — a trip she described as the last item on her bucket list.

Photos on her website showed her and her husband standing on the edge of the canyon, hugging and kissing. In the video, Maynard says she’s hoping her mother and husband will be able to bounce back after her death.

“I understand everyone needs to grieve, but I want him to be happy, so I want him to have a family,” she says. “And I know that might sound weird, but there’s no part of me that wants him to live out the rest of his life just missing his wife, so I hope he moves on and becomes a father.”

Debate over ‘death with dignity’

The so-called “death with dignity” movement is opposed by many religious and right-to-life groups, which consider it assisted suicide.

And Maynard’s decision has drawn criticism from some religious leaders.

“We believe she’s made in the image of God, we believe that God determined when she would be born and God should determine when she’s going to die,” Dave Watson, pastor of Calvary Chapel of Staten Island, told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin earlier this month. “I certainly sympathize. And when I read the story, I prayed for the woman and her family. I can’t imagine the agony for a decision like this. But I don’t think that necessarily we’re saying the right things about death.”

What if Maynard had showed a gun in her video, instead of a pill bottle, he asked.

Philip Johnson, a Catholic seminarian who says he was also diagnosed with incurable brain cancer, criticized Maynard’s choice.

“A diagnosis of terminal cancer uproots one’s whole life, and the decision to pursue physician-assisted suicide seeks to grasp at an ounce of control in the midst of turmoil,” he wrote in a column posted on the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh’s website. “It is an understandable temptation to take this course of action, but that is all that it is — a temptation to avoid an important reality of life.”

But polls have shown that most Americans support having a say in how they die, especially if the process is described not as doctors helping a patient “commit suicide” but as ending a patient’s life “by some painless means.”

“I think there is something of a movement here,” Arthur Caplan, professor of bioethics at NYU’s Langone Medical Center, told CNN’s Don Lemon earlier this month. “When you push Americans to say, ‘Do you want choice on this matter?’ I think a lot of them are going to say yes.”

Caplan said Maynard’s first video speaking out about her decision raised some concerns.

“I wouldn’t want her to feel pressure that she had to do it because she just told us all she was going to,” he said.

Maynard has stressed that she isn’t suicidal.

“If all my dreams came true, I would somehow survive this,” she says in her latest video, “but most likely, I won’t.”

CNN’s Brandon Griggs and Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.

Trademark and Copyright 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved

Simulating Death

According to a story by CNN “We’ve all wondered what it’s like to die. Now there’s a game that claims it can fulfill our curiosity, without actually killing us.”

I did say that some of my posts would be humorous, some factual, thought-provoking, and indeed – some will be just plain weird. If you clicked on the link to the article, did you notice that it was under travel? It seems that this one definitely falls into the just plain weird category. . . or does it?

Read on…….

A new theme park opened this past September in China. One of the rides is a “death simulator”. A DEATH SIMULATOR? My first thought was “How?”  Is the entrance to the ride a long tunnel filled with bright white lights? Do you reach the end of the tunnel and a shimmering white figure speaks to you, helping you review your life – what you’ve done, how you’ve done it, and to whom? Does it end with an ascent or a descent?

The how is, of course, impossible. But how did they research what to do? What type of experience did they develop?

Life and death

Ding and his partner Huang Wei-ping went to great lengths researching their game, investigating the cremation process that typically awaits 50% of Chinese people after death.

The pair visited a real crematorium and asked to be sent through the furnace with the flames turned off.

“Ding went in the crematory first and it was stressful for me to observe from the outside,” says Huang.

“The controller of the crematory was also very nervous; he usually just focuses on sending bodies in, but not on bringing them back out.”

When it came to Huang’s turn, he found it unbearable.

“It was getting really hot. I couldn’t breathe and I thought my life was over,” he said.

The pair say realism is essential to provoke participants into thinking about life and death.

The why was quickly answered once I read several articles regarding this thrill (?) ride.

CNN: We’ve all wondered what it’s like to die. Now there’s a game that claims it can fulfill our curiosity, without actually killing us.

Business Insider: The creators were motivated to build the game, which was first shown at an exhibition of social enterprises at Gongyi Xintiandi in Shanghai, following their own individual periods of “soul searching”.

My curiosity got hold of me and I did more searching to find out how common this is. Are there others who are simulating death experiences to make you think about life?

A scroll on the wall read “If you don’t know death, how will you know life?” (pictured above) Jia stepped into one of the coffins and sat down. The room was permeated with a sad melody. Jia was given 15 minutes to write down her “last words” on a piece of paper.

Then, she lay on her back in the coffin, her face covered by a piece of thin, white cloth. The coffin was closed. After five minutes in darkness and silence, the lid was opened and Jia experienced a “rebirth.”

All of this took place at Lingxin Culture and Communication Company (3/F, Bldg 1, 18 Wuwei Road East, 6111-2894). The company claims to be the first on the Chinese mainland to offer such a “death experience” to the public. It began trialling the experiences in April, and so far more than 100 people have taken part.

My most intimate experience with dying was with my mother the last year of her life. As I watched her health, but never her spirits, fade we chatted about many things. I asked her many questions during that year:

  • What were her favorite memories?
  • What was the most important advice she had for me?
  • Did she have any regrets, disappointments, things she’d like to change?
  • Had I made her proud?
  • Was she afraid?

It seems from all that was written above, the experience of death’ allows each of us to do some soul-searching. And if you are still breathing and reading this, then you DO know ahead of time. We are all in the process of dying, so think about it. Talk about it. Discuss it with your family. Laugh, share, love, forgive. . .  tempus fugit!

Referenced: CNN, Business Insider and Global Times

You can’t take it with you!

A man, told his wife, “When I die, I want all my money put it my casket. I wanna take my money with me.”

She promised she would.

The man died and at the funeral, her friend said, “I hope you weren’t crazy enough to put all that money in the casket.”

“I sure did,” the wife said.

The friend, in shock, said “You mean to tell me you put every cent of his money in the casket with him?”

“I sure did,” said the wife. “I got it all together, put it into my account and I wrote him a check!!”

What are they going to say about me after I’m gone?

Funerals don’t have to be boring. They should reflect the personality of the deceased.

A funeral should be a celebration of the life that was lived. There should be stories shared, memories and lots of laughter remembering the good times you had with someone you loved. RIP to the decedents, and many thanks to the families for sharing. I hope my family does the same for me. I am proud to say that is what we managed to do for my mother.

I did a You Tube search on funerals. Here are a few that I liked. Some are funny, others are touching, some are merely class projects, and one is a “how to” video.  I’ve also included the trailer from the movie Eulogy. CAUTION: some contain language not appropriate for children.

I hope you laugh, but mostly I hope you start thinking, “What are they going to say about me after I’m gone?” and live your life accordingly.

Funny and Wise Eulogy I love this one. What a wonderful tribute. What a strong daughter.

Funerals in Black and White Amen…

Very unusual but moving eulogy I laughed out loud with this one! I hope people are laughing at my funeral.

A teen’s personal project just for laughs. Based on Death and Funerals.

When I think of my Grandma Rosie

Labor of Love: A Video Eulogy

Eulogy for Grandpa

Tribute for a best friend

Graham Chapman’s funeral – John’s Cleese’s speech at Grahan Chapman’s funeral.

Cher’s eulogy for Sonny

Eulogy

Little girl giving a Eulogy for her fish, Lucky

Best Funeral EVER (note: this is faked for April Fools Day)