(220 comments, 741 posts)
I'm a sixth generation funeral director. I have a grad degree in Missional Theology and a Certification in Thanatology.
And I like to read and write.
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Posts by Caleb Wilde
Today’s writer wishes to remain anonymous.
I had been waiting for my father to die for three years. That may sound cruel; he was nothing more than an old man with dementia living in a nursing home to the outside world. But to me he was a living lie, an evil, a tear in my soul.
My younger daughter, once a bright little girl, started changing before our eyes into a stranger. I know many parents experience this as their children grow, but what she became was frightening. First came the cutting, drugs, the towering rages full of hate toward us, the suicide attempts, and being put on life support, her father and I just holding each other as we watched the machine breath for her. She spent her teen years in and out of psych units, therapy and drugs. We read everything we could and began to suspect that sexual abuse had occurred, but when we asked she would only say” I have to wait before I can talk about it”.
Three years ago we suffered a loss so great it brought us to our knees. A man we loved as a son was killed. It was his death that unlocked the truth for our daughter. She hit bottom with her grief and very early one morning confessed to her father that grandpa had molested her from the age of 3 to 8. He had told her he loved her and this was how to show special love. My husband held her, but told her she had to tell me. She was fearful, wondering if I would hate her, scream at her and tell her she was a liar. She spoke words that tore deep inside my soul “Grandpa molested me and Grandma knew it”. I actually was not surprised, I had begun to suspect it was him; my father had been exposing himself to children and had been speaking of sexual acts including “I always enjoyed raping my daughters”. I held out my arms and we held each other.
I asked my daughter for permission to speak with my brothers and sisters about this and she gave it to me. And then I found out about the other lies-others in my family had been molested. Family member were present when the police had come with complaints but he was a fine upstanding man so it must be lies, some spoke of my mother begging them not to pursue this. One incident was 58 years ago. My sister said it didn’t happen to me, she watched out for me but who watched out for our daughters. In the beginning they all had stories but a few days later that changed and I was told it never happened,” He couldn’t defend himself because of the dementia, and mom was dead so why raise hurtful subjects”. One of my sisters told me to forgive and forget and we would be fine. That I had to respect him because he was my father. Our family was divided, those whose daughters were molested or had been molested themselves and those who denied it could have ever happened and that we were lying.
And so I waited for him to die. It took three years. Three years where I still paid his bills, did his taxes, made the decisions for his daily living but I never saw him once because with his mental sate he could never answer my questions. My sisters wanted me to give up the legal guardianship (my extended family had been eager for me to take this on years before) I had but I would not, it was the only power I had over him. During those Three years I found out charges would not be brought because of the dementia. And then he died. I was the one to plan the funeral. I picked the minister and kept it simple. No singing, no glorification of the body. I made some family members angry. One half of the family sat upfront and wept. The other half (the ones who came) sat a few rows back in silence. I know both sides were in pain. Questions could never be asked no answers would ever be acceptable. For a few weeks some family members wrote face book posts of “how I miss my daddy.” Having read this post the young women painfully realized that the hopes of a loving extended family supporting them would never be a reality.
I went to the funeral for one reason, so I could attest to my daughter that her Grandfather was really dead and buried. For weeks after the funeral she had nightmares of him reaching out to grab her and She would call in tears asking “was I sure he was dead”. I would assure her that I saw his dead body and he could never touch her again. So now he is dead but his legacy will be with us for a long time, for the rest of our lives. I see my daughter take two steps forward but then I feel him reach out and pull her back a step. We continue to deal with the pain of betrayal and the feelings that we should have known and stopped it. My Husband made a remark to me shortly after we found out. It was “I want to blame you and put this squarely on you because he was your father. And it would be so easy to do. But that would not be true”. I thank God he had the strength to not blame me and yet I continue to blame myself for not knowing. My faith reassures me that while we were denied justice on Earth, my Father did have to stand before his God. I have the unending hope that my daughter will feel joy in her life someday and that this can become a distant memory for us all and I pray the legacy of abuse has ended in our family.
Today’s guest post is written by Laura Saba:
I’ve been around death A LOT. When I was 4 one of my playmates, a 5 y/o, died of an asthma attack. They buried her and planted a tree at school in her memory. I couldn’t wrap my little brain around it – where did she go, and why did they plant a tree? Was she inside that tree?
A few years later, my grandmother’s tenant died, her body there on the apartment floor. Then when I was 11, my friend and I were about to deliver our newspaper route, when her mom was discovered. She’d had a stroke while leaning over to pull cookies out of the oven. Her face lying on the hot open oven door ’til found was not a pretty scene.
Flash forward to high school and you have the requisite schoolmate suicides, overdoses and car crashes. A few more years spin by and my best friend is murdered in a ”wrong place wrong time” incident, then a few years later my brother was KIA in Iraq (Semper Fi!). Then friends lost to cancer, as well as aging relatives and friends lost along the way.
My work as a birth doula also brought me into the realm of death at times. Soon I was volunteering as a loss doula, for women who would be induced due to a lost baby. There were the stillbirths. Then volunteering with Hospice, as I got really good at working with grief. Along the way I also co-owned a “Grief Gift Basket” business, where we created condolence baskets and our highly popular “Miscarriage Gift Baskets” which addressed the unspoken grief of so many women in a more honest and open way.
Along the way I often stepped in, helping others plan, assisting them as they went to make arrangements. Suddenly I knew the ins and outs of an industry I’d never been in. Too, I saw that supporting people through this process was, in so many ways, calling upon the skill-set of the birth doula, just channeled into a different high-stress time.
It became quickly obvious that people needed an advocate when dealing with this emotionally charged situation. That they needed a 3rd party, not emotionally attached to them or their dearly departed, to advocate for them, to hold their hand, to make necessary phone calls, to run clothing to the funeral home, or help figure out where that green cemetery plot is, precisely. Someone to help them hold it together as they navigate the minutiae in this complicated time – and to ensure they are fully informed, while ensuring they are also physically and emotionally supportive.
It amazed me to see that people responded to this support even more quickly and readily than they initially did to birth doula support. How was it that this Mourning Doula did not exist prior?
I realized it is because in other times we took care of our own dead. Family, friends, our villages rose up and assisted us. As with the birth industry, we need the support because these emotionally sensitive circumstances are no longer handled in the same way, but rather are almost under-the-rug-swept, as we as a culture work to dissociate ourselves from the messy realities of birth and death. Subsequently, there is the potential for someone to take advantage of our vulnerability – not even necessarily out of ill will or greed (though it too often is), but even out of good intentions.
It is simply a fact that no one knows what we would genuinely want if they don’t know us, and aren’t putting advocating for us first and foremost in their mind – especially when there is financial gain involved, it can be all too tempting to sway one in a particular direction over another. Had our culture not distanced itself emotionally and physically from birth and death, if these undertakings had remained undertakings rather than becoming a business, things would perhaps be very different at this time in history. However, as things are, this is how life is in the modern world. We have turned the very bookends that mark our lives into an industry, giving power over some of our most precious moments to others. With power comes at times corruption, and so it is we see the rise of the doula.
Laura Saba is founder of Momdoulary, LLC, which provides training and certification in the Momdoulary Method of both Birth and End-of-life, Mourning, and Death Doula and Midwifery support, and Post-Loss Life Coaching, and Professional Organizing & Management of Material Artifacts Post-Loss.
Laura’s background in life & loss coaching, doula support, FEMA and Red Cross trainings, and experience providing support following natural and terror disasters, coupled with hospice volunteer support, led to a natural combination of her doula and coaching experience to provide end-of-life and post-loss support. This inclination was reinforced by extensive personal experience with loss, beginning at the age of 4 with the death of a playmate, and extending to the loss of a brother in Iraq, and numerous friends and former colleagues on 9/11.
If you’re interested in being trained to be a End-of-Life doula, Mourning doula, Death doula and/or Death Midwife, you can visit Laura’s website, Mourning Doula.
I wouldn’t mind a memorable, albiet moral, death. It would give everyone something to talk about. Years after I’m dead, people would ask, “Do you remember Caleb Wilde?”, they’d say, “Oh, yeah, isn’t that the guy that died ….”. Here are ten people that have been immortalized in the minds of their family, friends and community because of the way they died.
1. Dead Man Winning
Frank Hayes, stableman and trainer by trade, and maiden racer Sweet Kiss, hold a bizarre distinction in racing history. The pair competed in only one race, and though they won, it was what happened afterwards that puts them in the record books.
7-year-old Sweet Kiss was not well thought-of by her owners. Frank Hayes, who had cared for her, was convinced that she could win a race. On June 4, 1923, he was given his wish, when he and Sweet Kiss lined up for a 2-mile, 12-jump race at Belmont Park. Rated at 20-1 odds they were not expected to do anything special.
Surprisingly, the hard-working filly and her makeshift jockey, riding in just his second career race, won by a head. When the overjoyed owner and trainer approached to lead her to the winner’s circle, they made a shocking discovery: Frank Hayes was dead in the saddle.
A heart attack had killed Hayes sometime during the latter part of the race. It was observed that Sweet Kiss swerved slightly while approaching the final jump, and many surmised that her swerve had been caused by Hayes slumping forward in the saddle. Since he had stayed on her back the entire race, Sweet Kiss was declared the winner, making Hayes the first (and so far, only) jockey to have won a race after death. He is also the only known jockey to have an undefeated record. Hayes was buried in his racing silks three days later.
2. An Exciting Death
This from Reddit:
3. Dying From Reading Your Prematurely Published Obituary
At the end of May 1940, Marcus Garvey was recovering from a stroke in a dingy, draughty rented house in Kensington when word reached him of his own death.
“Marcus Garvey dies in London” announced the first headline, followed by a stream of black-bordered obituaries, many of them critical or dismissive. Garvey was not happy. On the second day, his secretary recalled, as the letters and cables piled up, “he collapsed in his chair, and could hardly be understood after that”. A few days later, he died, a victim of his own premature demise. Via The Telegraph
4. Three Million Dollar Threesome
William Martinez died in March of 2009 during a threesome with a woman who was not his wife and a male friend. In June of 2012, a jury granted Martinez’s family $3 million in damages because his cardiologist failed to inform him that overexerting himself was a bad idea. They had previously sought $5 million, but it was determined that he was 40 percent responsible for his own death.
5. Hardcore Gamer
A teenager died at an Internet cafe in Taiwan after reportedly playing the videogame “Diablo 3″ for 40 hours straight.
The 18-year-old, who has only been identified by his first name, Chuang, had booked a private room at the Tainan cafe in southern Taiwan on the afternoon of July 13,according to the the Australian, which cited the United Daily News broadsheet. Chuang then proceeded to play the videogame for 40 hours straight without eating.
On July 15, an attendant went into the room where Chuang had been playing and found the teen resting on the table, according to the Australian. The attendant was able to wake Chuang, who stood up, took a few steps and then collapsed onto the ground. He was pronounced dead soon after arriving at the hospital.
According to the Mirror, authorities believe the teenager may have suffered a blood clot due to sitting for such a long period of time.
6. Dying at Your Funeral
7. Dying to Prove a Point
Clement Vallandigham died in 1871 in Lebanon, Ohio, at the age of 50, after accidentally shooting himself in the abdomen with a pistol. He was representing a defendant in a murder case for killing a man in a barroom brawl at the Golden Lamb Inn. Vallandigham attempted to prove the victim, Tom Myers, had in fact accidentally shot himself while drawing his pistol from a pocket while rising from a kneeling position. As Vallandigham conferred with fellow defense attorneys in his hotel room at the Golden Lamb, he showed them how he would demonstrate this to the jury. Selecting a pistol he believed to be unloaded, he put it in his pocket and enacted the events as they might have happened, snagging the loaded gun on his clothing and unintentionally causing it to discharge into his belly. Although he was fatally wounded, Vallandigham’s demonstration proved his point, and the defendant, Thomas McGehan, was acquitted and released from custody (to be shot to death four years later in his saloon).
8. Nut Case.
“A Chinese mother has gone on trial accused of killing a man by squeezing his testicles so hard that he died of shock. According to one witness report as she held him in a vice-like grip she shouted: ‘I’ll squeeze it to death, you’ll never have children again.'”
A British businessman who bought the Segway company less than a year ago died after riding one of the scooters off a cliff and into a river near his Yorkshire estate. Via NBC News
10. Self Embalming
This death earned a Darwin Award. And it’s probably the most ignoble of the bunch; but it’s equally as memorable.
(21 May 2004, Texas) Michael was an alcoholic. And not an ordinary alcoholic, but an alcoholic who liked to take his liquor, well, rectally. His wife said he was “addicted to enemas” and often used alcohol in this manner. The result was the same: inebriation.
The machine shop owner couldn’t imbibe alcohol by mouth due to a painful throat ailment, so he elected to receive his favourite beverage via enema. And tonight, Michael was in for one hell of a party. Two 1.5 litre bottles of sherry, more than 100 fluid ounces, right up the old address!
When the rest of us have had enough, we either stop drinking or pass out.
When Michael had had enough (and subsequently passed out) the alcohol remaining in his rectal cavity continued to be absorbed. The next morning, Michael was dead.
The 58-year-old did a pretty good job of embalming himself. According to toxicology reports, his blood alcohol level was 0.47%.
“Deep Dark Fears” is a comic about irrational fears. The idea behind “Deep Dark Fears” is pretty cool: you submit YOUR deep dark fears HERE and if the artist thinks it’s cool and original, he makes your fear into a comic.
You can also buy his work HERE.
Not ALL his comic are about death, you can check out the rest of his “Deep Dark Fears” at his WEBSITE.