The Curious Autodidact

May 13, 2015

Quotes about Death: In Memory of Mary O.

Filed under: end of life,Word Related — Honilima @ 7:25 am


Death is simply a shedding of the physical body, like the butterfly coming out of a cocoon. It is a transition into a higher state of consciousness, where you continue to perceive, to understand, to laugh, to be able to grow, and the only thing you lose is something you don’t need anymore . . . your physical body. It’s like putting away your winter coat when spring comes.

Death is the most beautiful adventure in life.
Charles Frohman

Death teaches us to live; it gives us a boundary to map our living within. Death’s hammer breaks through the mirror separating us from light.
David Meltzer

A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own.

The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.
Marcus Cicero
c 106-43 BC Great Roman Orator Politician

Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely.

Death is the liberator of him whom freedom cannot release, the physician of him whom medicine cannot cure, and the comforter of him whom time cannot console.
Charles C. Colton

I think of death as some delightful journey that I shall take when all my tasks are done.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Death? Why this fuss about death? Use your imagination, try to visualize a world without death! . . . Death is the essential condition of life, not an evil.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman

When the body sinks into death, the essence of man is revealed. Man is a knot, a web, a mesh into which relationships are tied. Only those relationships matter. The body is an old crock that nobody will miss. I have never known a man to think of himself when dying. Never.
Antoine De Saint-Exupery
1900-1944 French Aviator Writer

Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.
George Eliot
1819-1880 British Novelist

Dying is something we human beings do continuously, not just at the end of our physical lives on this earth.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Swiss-born American Psychiatrist

Every man goes down to his death bearing in his hands only that which he has given away.
Saying of Persian Origin

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.

Kona Sunset, Big Island, Hawaii


May 10, 2015

Tom Ashbrook: Widower with a Microphone

Filed under: book related,end of life,media related — Honilima @ 6:50 pm

(Photo: J. Costa)

(Photo: J. Costa)

Tom Ashbrook took a break from his microphone when his wife died last year. His broadcast on January 2, 2015 was a deeply personal show How We Grieve with guests Rabbi Earl Grollman, former rabbi of Beth El Temple Center in Belmont, MA. Author of “Living When A Loved One Has Died” and many other books and Patricia Rogers, a psychotherapist in private practice in the Greater Boston area.

His grief is new and palpable in this deeply personal segment of his WBUR show out of Boston.


May 7, 2015

Progress: Update on Legal Aid in Dying USA as of 2015

Filed under: end of life,environmental ideas,media related,social justice — Honilima @ 12:28 pm

DARK GREEN – states with Death with Dignity laws
LIGHT GREEN – states where Death with Dignity is legal by court decision
ORANGE – states where a bill HAS been proposed
RED – states with no legislative action

DARK GREEN – states with Death with Dignity laws
LIGHT GREEN – states where Death with Dignity is legal by court decision
ORANGE – states where a bill HAS been proposed
RED – states with no legislative action

May 2, 2015

Those Wacky People in the Left Hand Corner Have Done it Again!

Filed under: cool internet stuff,end of life,environmental ideas,women heroes — Honilima @ 11:21 am


The Pacific Northwest is certainly a hotbed of radical ideas and dreams of utopia (fueled no doubt by strong coffee). Start-ups do well here, cohousing is thriving, organic anything is top of mind, hence when the Urban Death Project idea was hatched here were we surprised? Not at all. We lined up to participate and pledged our money to make it so.

Take a look at the video here and learn the polluting facts of more traditional methods of disposing of the dead and you might want to sign on too. Architect Katrina Spade is the founder and I am thrilled to report that this AM the Kickstarter campaign  has been fully funded. Now the harder work will begin and the interesting process to see who will sign up to participate and if it will get any traction elsewhere in the less left leaning parts of our great country.

I applaud Ms Spade for her vision and determination, it is going to be fun to watch this project take flight.

April 28, 2015

20th Century Death: Infographic

Filed under: cool internet stuff,end of life — Honilima @ 6:18 pm

20th Century Death infographic

April 17, 2015

Getting Comfortable with Life’s End

Filed under: end of life,helpful hints,media related — Honilima @ 1:21 pm

image001 (1)

I was alerted to the documentary Consider the Conversation and that it would be shown on many public broadcasting stations. It was not going to be shown in my area and so I bought one to give to the local Compassion and Choices chapter to make available to their volunteers. It a terrific film and would make for great family viewing, here is a short but powerful three minute clip from YouTube that will give you a taste of the power of this film about a life passage rarely spoken of in our culture. Seattle neurologist and neuro-oncologist Dr. Lynne P. Taylor has written a powerful piece in a professional publication about her work with the Washington State Death with Dignity Law. Also worth reading is the New York Times article: Good Short Life by Dudley Clendinen. Choosing When to Go, the article about Maine resident Norman Morse, is quite intelligent. It does incorrectly state that Oregon is the only state with a Death with Dignity Law that allows physician aid in dying, when so does Washington and Montana. The people of Maine had always been strongly independent and Morse states a strong case for why he should be able to end his life when he thinks it should be over stressing once again quality over quantity. These videos and articles should be shared to make us all more comfortable with all parts of our lives even the end.

April 13, 2015

National Health Care Decision Day: April 16th

If you are reading this you no longer look like the baby in this picture, life passes quickly, and we are all rushing about putting off health care papers that may be vitally important for our closest friends and family.

April 16th has been set aside as National Health Care Decisions Day.

We are all going to die and in our death denying culture in the US it can be hard to muster up the energy to face getting your affairs in order.

Only a small percentage of Americans have take time out to write up a will or update a will made years ago, maybe when you married or had your first offspring. Many who have gotten a will together have one that hasn’t been updated or may not include your wishes about medical intervention. You hear tales of court cases where a divorced mate never bothered to update their will or insurance when they remarried leaving their wealth to the ex.

Compassion and Choices of Washington has put together some marvelous free tools to help you and your family and friends to detail your values and even provides a little quiz to make sure that when the conversation has been properly understood for those involved.

Just a click away is their Values Worksheet to help you rate your most important wished 1-5. This is a great way to begin a conversation with your family and friends and make clear what is most important to you and what is not. No matter what your feelings about end of life choice this is a useful straight forward tool.

After filling out the Values Worksheet and taking time to discuss the finer points you should have your mate or health care agent fill out the Health Care Decisions IQ Test

If you each fill it out you will be certain that you are totally understanding the others wishes or know that the conversation isn’t concluded.

If you find these resources helpful slip a check in the mail for them to continue offering these services for free to all, they rely on donations to keep their agency going.

Watching the documentary Consider the Conversation will also spark an open discussion and make you aware that it is important no matter what your age, religion, gender or race. Buy a copy to support the filmmakers and show it at your next family gathering, or community club it is important we not keep out heads in the sand around issues of choice.

Journalist Ellen Goodman has put together this site that may be of interest, The Conversation Project.

We might all hope that we just die in our sleep but that chance is not likely and your family will be so much more at ease to know they have done just what you wanted as detailed by your own writing.

Just do it!

April 10, 2015

One Last Kindness: Organ and Body Donation

Filed under: end of life,environmental ideas — Honilima @ 1:50 am



Death provides many of us with a one-time chance to make a valuable gift to humanity. All major religions approve of body and organ donation for medical and dental teaching, research, and transplants. According to public opinion polls, most people believe that such donations are desirable.

Organ Donation

With the advances in medical science in the last decade, organ transplants have become fairly common. Organ donation at a time of death is a gift of life or sight to the recipient. Circumstances surrounding death may limit this option, yet the corneas of even elderly donors will be grateful accepted. If your wish is to aid the living with an organ donation, make sure your next-of-kin and your physician know your preference. This intent should be noted on any medical or hospital records, too. A body from which organs have been removed will not be accepted for medical study.

Body Donation

Medical schools have an ongoing need of bodies for teaching and research. The need may be especially urgent at osteopathic and chiropractic schools. No medical school buys bodies, but there is usually little or no expense for the family when death occurs. Therefore, if you live in an area where low-cost funeral options do not exist, body donation may be an economical as well as thoughtful and generous choice.

Most medical schools pay for nearby transportation as well as embalming and final disposition. The School may have a contract with a particular firm for transporting bodies, so it is important to inquire about the specific arrangements to be used at the time of death in order to avoid added costs. After medical study, the body is usually cremated, with burial or scattering in a university plot. Often the cremains or remains can be returned to the family for burial within a year or two. This request should be made known at the time of donation. Some medical schools require that a donor register before death. However, in many cases, next-of-kin may make the bequest without prior arrangement.

Funeral Plans

Because it is important for the medical school to start preservation as soon after death as possible, a memorial service is most appropriate for those planning on body donation. Alternative plans for body disposition should be discussed with your family. A few schools take care of disposition regardless of condition at the time of death, in fulfillment of their contract with a donor. Most medical schools, however, follow guidelines in the acceptance of a body. If death occurs at the time of surgery, for example, the body would not be accepted for study. Certain diseases, as well as obesity, make a body unsuitable. Some medical schools may not have an immediate need and have no provision for storage or for sharing with another university.

Provisions When Traveling

There will be special considerations if death occurs while you are traveling and you planned on body donation. If you are a great distance from the medical school of your choice, should your family bear the cost of transporting your body there, or may the nearest university be contacted? The need for cadavers in some foreign countries is even greater than in the U.S. For example, in Argentina 200 medical students must share a cadaver. A private individual’s body may be shipped to another country if placed in a hermetically sealed container. If death were to occur abroad, do you wish your survivors to inquire about the local need for bodies or organs to fulfill the intent of your anatomical bequest? Be sure to note your preference on the Uniform Donor Card you carry.



April 5, 2015

Diane Rehm: A Widow with a Microphone

Filed under: end of life,media related,women heroes — Honilima @ 6:35 pm


Diane Rehm is a stunning journalist working out of WAMU in Washington DC. Her husband’s recent death has gotten her only more active in working for national access to end-of-life choice.

At 78 years old she has stepped up her coverage of death to open the dialogue nationally after seeing her husband’s sad decline from Parkinson’s Disease. Theirs was a strong marriage of two smart active people and seeing one’s partner decline as she had to activated her to join with Compassion and Choices to work on end of life options for those who desire it most.

Here are a few of her recent broadcasts of merit include New Efforts to Expand Options for Terminally Ill Patients and Choosing to Die.

March 22, 2015

Making Friends with Death, Start Today

Filed under: end of life,media related,social justice,women heroes — Honilima @ 12:09 pm

Image result for barbara coombs lee

At the National Compassion and Choices conference in Chicago, Barbara Coombs Lee stated powerfully that, “Making friends with death leads you to a more meaningful life”

To normalize death in our culture would be a step in the right direction to allow us more decent death choices. Nationally we are being crushed by the costs of medical care at the end of life as detailed by this article in the WSJ “The Crushing Cost of Care.”

It has been said that many are replacing a fear of death with a fear of not dying—being stuck in that place between life and death and dying surrounded by machines and strangers.

Michael Wolf’s “Life Worth Ending” in the New York Magazine is a brave piece about his mother. When you read it you realize what a step forward we have taken for a mainstream magazine to feature such a candid article on this end of life topic. We have many more steps to take on this journey.

If you have not taken time to create your very own Advanced Directive, to be certain your end of life choices are made clear, for all to understand, Compassion and Choices has free forms available on-line for all fifty states. Filling out the form is a great way to begin the conversation but talking to your loved ones about this document and making sure it is on file with your doctor is also wise. Having your feelings about medical interventions in serious situations is a marvelous gift to give your family and loved ones.

Barbara Coombs Lee has also written a powerful article called “If Wishes Were Fishes” worth reading too as a cautionary tale about using the Five Wishes document to state your end of life wishes.

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