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> Death: The Final Stage of Growth
Gillian
post Jan 3 2007, 04:42 AM
Post #41


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QUOTE(lilacwine13 @ Jan 2 2007, 07:48 AM) *

I never heard of taking pictures of people in their caskets was strictly Eastern European, I remember hearing of people doing that on both sides of my family, and we're from northern Europe. I've also seen pictures from the 1940's of dead Norweigan relatives in their caskets. I think it's died out, though, since nobody has done that at any of the funerals I've been to. People took pictures of the grave and the flowers, though.


I'm in Nothern Europe (in Finland) and I've never heard of people having open casket funerals around here. They used to have them some 50+ years ago but I don't know if people actually took pictures. At least my family didn't. Here people usually take pictures of the closed casket and flowers like at my gradmas funeral last August.

But at least in the baltic countries they still have open casket funerals and take pictures of the dead. A few years ago I worked at a place where we developed photographs from the nordic and baltic countries and I saw too many dead Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians. (Argh, I could tell you so many weird stories, but they wouldn't all appropriate for this discussion.)


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erinjane
post Jan 2 2007, 11:31 AM
Post #42


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Sorry, i didn't mean strictly eastern European, but that my family got it from the eastern European side. I wish no one did it at the more current funerals I've been too, but if anyone over 65 is there a camera usually comes out.


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lilacwine13
post Jan 1 2007, 11:31 PM
Post #43


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I never heard of taking pictures of people in their caskets was strictly Eastern European, I remember hearing of people doing that on both sides of my family, and we're from northern Europe. I've also seen pictures from the 1940's of dead Norweigan relatives in their caskets. I think it's died out, though, since nobody has done that at any of the funerals I've been to. People took pictures of the grave and the flowers, though.

As for open casket, I don't think I've been to a funeral where that wasn't one. They had the casket open before the service so the people attending could see them and the casket was closed during it. About the only time it seemed strange was at my cousin's, but that was because the funeral director had to do massive reconstruction (she was killed in a car crash) and it looked like a wax replica of her face (which it probably was). I think my uncle's family did that because they wanted to see her one last time, her death devastated them.


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sixelacat
post Jan 1 2007, 08:55 PM
Post #44


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I never really got the point of having open casket visitation until my gran died several years ago. I saw her death, in fact, I was the only one with her when she actually died. She was managing her illness fine for about a year, then took a relatively quick turn for the worse. I drove down to see her and help my grandad out with her care on Sunday, she died Monday. She had been, well, not good for a week or 10 days, so she went fairly quickly. Anyway, having seen her ill, dying, and dead, I didn't particularly feel the need to "view" the body. But I'm really glad I did, not for me, but for my cousin. He was practically raised by my gran, and was really really torn up he didn't get to see her right before she died (he lives several states away and couldn't come right away). He is a very very sensitive, kind of nervous type person, and absolutely didn't want to see her body. I talked him into it anyway, because the funeral home had done SUCH a good job on her! I mean, they made her look exactly like the gran we remembered from our childhood 20 years ago!!! He has said since it really helped him cope to have his last memory of her looking so well, instead of sick, waxy, or well, DEAD. (really, she did look like she was just napping)

Funny, knowing all that, I still insist that I be cremated, because the idea of people pumping my corpse full of chemicals and putting make-up on it creeps me the hell out.


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erinjane
post Jan 1 2007, 08:47 PM
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My dad says the picture thing is an eastern european thing, which is what I thought. I feel like I should have more of an opinion on the open casket thing but I feel so indifferent to it now. At all the funerals I've been to there is a viewing for the immediate family, and the casket is closed through the service, and then opened as everyone walks out so that people can go up and pay their respects, but it's not a requirement. I see lots of people walk right by without looking in or stopping, but I don't know if this is how it's done everywhere.


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wombat
post Jan 1 2007, 08:28 PM
Post #46


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I hate open caskets where they prop the dead-waxy-doll body up. You should be able to choose whether to see the person's body or not, when and if you walk up to it, not just the minute you walk in the funeral home or turn on the tv, bam!, dead bodies in yo face!

I went to my Irish grand
father's funeral when I was 11 or 12 and got up with my cousins to take the host and I was not catholic so the "body you eat" thing really grossed me out!




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raisingirl
post Dec 31 2006, 08:41 AM
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Those are good stories, Polly.

Erin, interesting perspective. We took pictures (of the living) at the post-wake and post-funeral dinners, but no pictures at the actual wake and funeral.
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pollystyrene
post Dec 30 2006, 09:32 PM
Post #48


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Ok, kind of a funny funeral story- my grandpa died when I was 10. My mom's side of the family is huge and I, along with all my cousins, were there. I was probably the oldest, and we were running around the funeral home during the wake- we'd been there all day, what else do you expect little kids to do? I don't think we were being loud and crazy, but you can't expect kids under the age of 12 to sit still for 8-12 hours at a wake when all their cousins are there.

One of my grandma's cousins came up to my dad (she may not have even known it was my dad) and said, "Don't those children mind?" (as in "Can't they behave?") and my dad said with a straight face, "No, no, I don't think they mind." She just harumphed and walked away.

Fast forward to this week- my parents are in Kansas City for the holidays visiting my mom's family and my grandma's aforementioned cousin died the day after Christmas. On Wednesday, my parents went to the funeral and my dad said he was overjoyed to see this woman's grandchildren and great-grandchildren running around the same way we were. Hee hee!

Yeah, I don't think we're big on the picture of the casket thing. Not that I know of, anyway.


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erinjane
post Dec 30 2006, 08:58 PM
Post #49


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As for open caskets, they've never bothered me. I've never given them a second thought but when my grandma died this summer three of my friends came and they all said they had never seen an open casket before. None of them looked inside as they walked past. The ukranian side of my family is really big and i've been to 14 funerals in my life (i'm 21) so it just doesn't effect me, good or bad.

My friends asked me if it didn't bother me that her in the casket would be my last memory of her, but I just don't even think of the body in the casket as her. My last memory of my grandma is of my family in her hospital room, and me holding her hand as she took her last breaths. The body is just a body...not her.

For me seeing my grandma's body meant nothing to me. It didn't really look like her but I know for others it was important to see her and say that final goodbye. Of course my immediate family is incredibly morbid and we were laughing about how unnatural her hand placement was. I think that morbid sense of humour really helps us deal with things though. We're able to laugh about life and death. I know for my dad, brother, and I it calms us mentally.

I don't know if this is an older generation thing or a Ukranian thing, but my older relatives all used to take pictures at the funerals and of the body. When we went to visit my grandma's brother he was disapointed we didn't have any photo's of her in the casket. That weirds me out.


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pollystyrene
post Dec 30 2006, 08:50 PM
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Yeah, obviously, there are some cases where it may have been better to have a closed casket, and for some people it probably doesn't make a difference.

I had an uncle who died in a train accident when I was 14. He was driving to work early one morning, going east (towards the sunrise) and he lived in a rural area where many of the RR crossings didn't have gates, just warning lights. He was color-blind to red so he didn't see the lights and the tracks were running at an angle to the road he was on, and the train came from behind his left shoulder. He died instantly and probably never even knew it was coming.

They did an open-casket for him, and it wasn't as grisly as I expected. He looked bloatier than most dead people I'd seen (and definitely more than when he was alive), and he had some bruising around his face (they had to put tons of makeup on him), but I think it made it easier to have my last memory of him be him just looking kinda crappy rather than what I could have imagined he would have looked like after a train accident.


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You went to school where you were taught to fear and to obey, be cheerful, fit in, or someone might think you're weird.
Life can be perfect. People can be trusted. Someday, I will fall in love; a nice quiet home of my very own.
Free from all the pain. Happy and having fun all the time.
It never happened, did it?
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raisingirl
post Dec 30 2006, 08:32 PM
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I mean, that's the obvious answer and with good cause, Polly, but I am still creeped out by it. I got more closure from the funeral service; the wake just serves to make me feel uneasy. The funeral home was a nice place, though.

I don't know, do we ever get better when it comes to coping with death?

I can count on two hands the number of funerals and/or wakes I've attended, and I'm still not using all my fingers.
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pollystyrene
post Dec 30 2006, 08:19 PM
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Re: open casket funerals- I've heard that it helps provide closure to the mourners, to see their loved one deceased and at peace.


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You went to school where you were taught to fear and to obey, be cheerful, fit in, or someone might think you're weird.
Life can be perfect. People can be trusted. Someday, I will fall in love; a nice quiet home of my very own.
Free from all the pain. Happy and having fun all the time.
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raisingirl
post Dec 30 2006, 08:08 PM
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Who else wants to revive this thread?

Cemetaries can be really beautiful places.

I feel guilty for never visiting.

I think I'm going to turn into one of those people who reads the obits every day.

And I still don't understand the point of open-casket wakes and I wish the tradition would be done away with. My heart was racing as I entered the funeral home this week. I stayed in the back half of the room.
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auralpoison
post Nov 22 2006, 06:02 PM
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Mary Roach's Stiff is a good one. Insightful & humourous. She recently put out another, but I've yet to pick it up.


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bunnyb
post Nov 22 2006, 04:46 PM
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ooh pollystyrene, how cool of you to bump this as it reminded me I had to ask something! Is the book Stiff the one my fellow death-thinkers (as opposed to death-eaters) recommend? I'm thinking of buying it for my stepdad for Christmas as he's a gravedigger and cos bunnymama and I were having a dispute about the ecological unfriendliness of burial.


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pollystyrene
post Nov 22 2006, 02:04 AM
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Here's a very interesting article about a man's (and his family's) experience in hospice. There's a video and a 2-part article.

I thought the part in the second article where the hospice chaplain says she knew he was close to the end of his life when he said "My car is waiting" was really interesting- she said people typically make these travel statements when they are close to the end.


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You went to school where you were taught to fear and to obey, be cheerful, fit in, or someone might think you're weird.
Life can be perfect. People can be trusted. Someday, I will fall in love; a nice quiet home of my very own.
Free from all the pain. Happy and having fun all the time.
It never happened, did it?
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auralpoison
post Sep 9 2006, 12:08 AM
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Photos/video of the Towers of Silence shock Mumbai. The Parsi believe that in order for the soul to be released the body must be devoured by vultures. But there aren't enough vultures & too many bodies.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060907/ap_on_...ath_rituals_lh1


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ratgrl
post Sep 3 2006, 11:54 AM
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Thanks for posting that link, Auralpoison. Some interesting facts in there!

I'm only now delurking in this thread, although I've been reading it since its inception a few months ago. Death has always fascinated me, and because it's a subject that's not discussed much in everyday conversation, I love it that there are places like this where I can share my thoughts about it, as well as hear those of other people.

I guess my interest in the subject began when I was in first grade: My teacher was reading us a book about a boy whose father dies, in a war, perhaps (I have absolutely no recollection of the title or author). The teacher showed an illustration of the kid asking "Where's my daddy?" and someone else answering, "He's in there" (pointing to a closed casket). This haunted me for a long, long time. Then, when I was 7 years old, I had a dream in which my father was lying dead in an open casket, with my sister leaning over him, weeping. It was so horrible; the fact that I remember the dream 34 years later attests to the impact it had on me!

Then, when I was in third grade, our next-door neighbor died. He was an elderly man and I knew he'd been sick, but here's how I found out about his death: My father handed me the obits page of our local newspaper and pointed to the neighbor's name and said, "Ratgrl, read this!" Ever since that day, I have made a point of reading the obituaries before anything else in the paper. And I've even written my own obituary and made both my husband and mother aware of it. Hey, I want to be in control of what's said about me in my final send-off!

I'm reasonably healthy and still fairly young, so I don't plan on dying any time soon. But of course it's conceivable that it could happen: car accident, asthma attack, cancer--there are so many possibilities. And having known many people who've died at a young age (most recently, my brother-in-law), I just can't help but think about it. Oh, I'm also a fan of true-crime books; ratboy and I have huge library of them at our house. Because of all this, I've sometimes been called morbid or ghoulish. So be it--the subject interests me.

I like the discussions in here about burials and cemetaries. Bunnyb, that's an interesting story about a body being moved to its rightful grave and the mother's reaction. If I were in that situation, I don't know how I'd react.

Tesao, I can so relate to your last paragraph! I'm prepared for--and at peace with--the prospect of my own death (in addition having written my obit and made it clear to loved ones that I want to be cremated, I've got my other affairs in order, such as my will, a living will (I will NOT risk ending up like Terri Schiavo), life insurance policies, etc.). BUT, my worst fear in the world is losing loved ones--especially ratboy, my parents, my sister, and my nieces. Truly, if any of them died, I think I'd totally come undone. But I don't think that's egotism--you can't help the way you feel, after all.

Well, enough of my ramblings for now. Thanks for listening!


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auralpoison
post Sep 1 2006, 09:34 PM
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I thought this sounded interesting...

http://www.discover.com/issues/sep-06/depa.../20thingsdeath/


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tesao
post Aug 22 2006, 05:20 AM
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i'm with you, bunnybsweet. what made her son her son isn't there, anyway. i'd stay quiet about it.

every time i see my mamãe lately, i worry that it may be the last time. then, when it is a few months later, i worry that i won't get to see her again before she dies.

why is it that i don't have any problems with the thought of MY death, but the deaths of those i love makes me miserable, sad and depressed? egotism?
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