Archive for September, 2011
I had a couple featured posts this past week and I failed to mention two of them. And being that my hands are stiffer than, well, a stiff, cause of my recent membership at an indoor rock climbing gym, I thought I’d give my fingers a break and simply provide some links.
Two of the posts are kinda reposts. But the one at Church Leaders is mostly fresh.
Even Jesus Wept at RELEVANT Magazine.
5 Things Funeral Directors Wish Pastors Knew at Church Leaders
600,000 Dying Stories Aren’t Being Told at Reject Apathy
It’s a struggle for funeral homes to advertise.
Where do we advertise? At nursing homes? Hospitals? Bars? Along dangerous highways?
It’s a struggle for us to sponsor events.
What should we sponsor? A BBQ fundraiser? Who wants to see a funeral home ad on the back of their son’s Little League uniform?
And when other businesses can donate a coupon or a gift certificate to a charity auction, the funeral homes can donate … what? A used casket? A groupon?
There’s a lot of opportunity for us to fail in our advertising. And with that in mind, here’s a great example:
I get it. You’re desperate to show that you’re a part of a community. But, there’s better ways to do it. She’s almost dead. You’re a funeral home. You don’t see a conflict of interest? For goodness sake, get a new advertisement department.
Really? Are you serious? The perfect gift for Valentines Day? Is the person who designed this a human being? If there was a Darwin Award for people who kill their own businesses, you’d be this year’s recipient.
So, you’ve got to have some control over the side of your building … right? You’re “FuneralCare” … that’s what you call yourself. ”Care” is part of your name. And you have a billboard for a zombie show on the side of your building? Zombies + Funeral + Care ≠ Awesome Advertising.
Okay. So you need a little more business, but there’s better ways to do it. Join a church. Make friends at a local civic organization. Joining the local chapter of the Juggalos would be a more honest way to get business. But, please, don’t make us funeral directors look anymore weirder than we already are!!!
Today’s guest post comes from Leigh Kramer, who is a certified thanatologist and former hospice worker, which easily makes her a candidate for a “Top 10 Coolest People in the World” award.
In May 2010, Leigh intentionally uprooted her life in the Chicago suburbs by moving to Nashville in an effort to live more dependently on God. She writes about life in the South, what God has been teaching her, and her ongoing quest for the perfect fried pickle. A former medical social worker, she is currently writing her first novel. You can follow her adventures on Twitter and her blog HopefulLeigh.
We know that grief is a stranger to no one. At any time, we could lose a person that is a part of our lives. Now in the age of social media, we’re facing loss on a virtual level.
Since blog friends can be real friends, what do we do when a blog/Twitter friend dies?
I stumbled unto Gitzen Girl‘s blog a couple of years ago, amazed by her joyful spirit in spite of her circumstances: a painful chronic illness. I’ve read her blog sporadically the past several months, but was always glad when she’d pop up at (in)courage.
Last summer, she vulnerably explored her grief after the sudden death of her father. Grief is messy. There are no pat answers when your world is ripped apart. Until you’ve experienced the pain of losing a loved one, it’s impossible to know what the bereaved experience.
Sara lifted the veil for those who haven’t walked that road and provided community to those who’ve mourned. In some ways, she prepared us for what we now face.
On Wednesday, news spread through the blogosphere that Sara’s body was shutting down. She started hospice and her loved ones began the process of saying goodbye.
But what about the rest of us? Those of us who had felt encouraged and comforted by her writing but knew Sara by her words alone. We’ve felt the impending loss all the same.
When you don’t have that face-to-face connection, how do you mourn? The intersection of grief and social media adds a new dimension to bereavement. Loss is loss, no matter what.
We simply have to be more creative when it comes to mourning those in our social media circle.
The Twitter hashtag #ChooseJoy sprang up Wednesday as the news spread, a place for everyone to reflect on Sara’s impact on our lives. Sara’s words made real, a testimony to who she is and how we’ll remember her.
Wednesday night we learned that Sara’s family would have a candlelight vigil at 7:45 CST. And so all around the country, people lit candles and said prayers.
People have been writing beautiful posts about what Sara has meant to them. Her dear friend Jessica began a link-up for all the posts. It is amazing- and at times overwhelming- to see how one person affected so many people, many of whom never met her in real life.
There’s talk of Choose Joy jewelry being created. And then there’s this other way to commemorate Gitz’s life: a Choose Joy tattoo in her own handwriting. Tam‘s already taken the plunge and many more, myself included, will follow suit.
Jessica’s husband Matthew reflected on social media’s impact on Sara. Because of her illness, Sara’s been limited to her condo for a couple of years now. She Skyped, she blogged, she Tweeted. Along the way, her life expanded beyond the walls of her condo.
She brought us into her world and we brought her in to ours. This is why so many face the task of mourning someone they’ve never met.
It may be tempting to ignore our sadness, to say we don’t have the right to mourn Sara since we didn’t know her personally. However, we’ll only be doing ourselves a disservice.
No matter the connection, we must give ourselves permission to mourn.
Be sad. Cry. Reflect on what Sara meant to you. Pray. Decide how her legacy will impact your life.
Above all else, choose joy.
How do you choose joy?
I’m friends with about five dead people on facebook.
It’s kinda odd, especially around their birthday when, inevitably, a couple people wish them “happy birthday” and you wonder, “Do … they … know why he/she isn’t responding with a “thanks”?”
Most of my ghost friends died suddenly, leaving their password eternally forgotten and their facebook status in limbo.
And as my generation gets older and dies, there will be millions of facebook profiles that each contain thousands of pictures, status updates, conversations and activity reports that will act as a memorial of sorts for their friends and family that they leave behind.
It’s kind of neat if you think about.
In many ways, the ghost account can take the place of the grave site. We will often use grave sites as a therapeutic way to “speak” with the deceased, tell them what’s going on in our lives. We’ll also use the grave site as a place to honor the deceased with flowers or small tokens of memorialization.
But ghost facebook accounts allow us to do all that and more, as we can not only leave a small message on their wall, but look through their photos, maybe even their videos.
How many of your facebook friends are “ghost accounts”?
What do you do with your ghost accounts? Unfriend them? Do you still wish them “happy birthday?”
Do you think facebook should do something special with these “ghost” accounts? Should they create a “graveyard” of sorts where these accounts go?
I’ve often thought about posting video on my facebook account that is meant to viewed when I’m dead. What do you think about that? Weird?
Blurring the Lines Between Suicide and Murder: Thoughts on the death of Jamey Rodemeyer, Lady Gaga and Gay Bullying
I come from a theological background that embraces what many call a “libertarian view of free will” (or the “rational actor theory” by sociologists), the praxis of which means that no matter your environment, biological constitution and your nurture, you (can) have the freedom to choose and are therefore responsible for who you are.
Just the other day I was sitting with a young man who has been marginalized on a number of fronts due to his economic status and his disabling lack of kidneys. His three times a week dialysis, coupled with a lack of transportation, keeps him from being employable. On top of that his girlfriend just found out she’s pregnant to another man.
He was telling me that his spirit’s broken. No hope.
And he says, “It is what it is.”
I hate that saying. For a young man like this, it’s the white flag of surrender. It says, “My life will never be any better than what it is.” And with that attitude, it won’t.
It’d be easy for me to respond, “Stop saying, ‘It is what it is’ and start saying, ‘it will be what I make it’ … start believing you can take control of your future.” And that’s the positive side to believing in a libertarian free will … that you, no matter what your situation, can find a way to overcome. Especially, when you factor God and his Church into the equation.
It’s easy for me as a privileged white man to say, “Just take your world by the horns … get a job, find some self-respect.” And while acknowledging nature and nurture aren’t causative, it’s also vital to acknowledge that being dealt a bad hand limits options, and can, in some areas, take away both the freedom and the will to move on.
Bullying is another thing that limits the will.
This past week, Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide. He was 14 years old. He was also gay.
Stuff like this was posted on one of Jamey’s social media pages,
“JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT AND [sic] UGLY. HE MUST DIE!”
“I wouldn’t care if you died. No one would. So just do it It would make everyone WAY more happier!”
Apparently, according to his friends and mother, he had been made fun of for years. And, he had been told, by a number of his class mates that he was going straight to hell.
He was ONLY 14 years old.
But, this isn’t new. According to a Rutgers report, roughly 20% of gay kids attempt suicide compared to only 5% of straight kids.
In response to Jamey’s suicide, Lady Gaga (who I’ve been writing about a lot of late), wrote:
“The past days I’ve spent reflecting, crying, and yelling. I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someone’s life….Bullying must become illegal. It is a hate crime. I am meeting with our President. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it. Trend it #MakeALawForJamey.”
I work with youth at a type of Boys and Girls club called “The Parkesburg Point” (which is where I met the young man with no kidneys). Bullying is real. And it really messes a kid up. Gay or not. And while bullying has been taking place ever since one child was shorter than the rest, cyber space has created a forum that takes bullying those who are different to a whole different level.
In fact, we don’t allow cell phones at “The Parkesburg Point” for that very reason. We’re afraid that someone would use their cell phone’s camera to take a compromising photo of another youth, edit the photo to make it look worse, post it on facebook only to have the photo grow viral and the bullying grow exponentially.
And I know there’s agendas and associations from the political right and the left whenever the term “hate crime” is brought up. Everybody’s afraid that their rights are being violated. But, I think cases like this should make us realize that free speech and bullying aren’t the same thing … that bullying a different child to the point of death is different than disagreeing with a particular lifestyle.
Bullying breaks the spirit. It effectively takes away both freedom and the will to live. It takes away worth. It takes away the future. It creates death. And in some ways, creates what appears to be “a suicide” into murder.
In Jamey’s case, the police are opening a criminal investigation and supposedly are determining whether or not they will charge three particular boys with some form of harassment, hate crime or cyber harassement.
Malcolm Lazin, founder and executive director of the Equality Forum, states concerning gay bullying,
“They are bullied and marginalized. While some may say that Jamey took his life, it is unrelenting homophobia that murdered him.”
On a death certificate, there’s a place for the doctor to mark the manner of a person’s death . The manner can either be “Natural”, “Accidental”, “Homicide”, “Suicide”, “Pending” or “Could Not be Determined”. And if I were a doctor, I’d be tempted to put my “X” in between the boxes for “homicide” and “suicide.”
I believe that Jamey took his own life. By his own 14 year old hand. I believe it was suicide. I also believe that he wouldn’t have done it had he been treated with more love and respect by his peers. And I believe the freedom of his will was greatly damaged by the hurtful words of others.
So was this murder or suicide? I think the lines are blurred.