Palliative and End of Life Care

By Ellen Fink-Samnick

Palliative and End of Life Care

We all know the cost of care at the end of life (EOL) tends to be needlessly wasteful. And we know that, too often, the wishes of patients are ignored, or worse, unknown. As the healthcare system adopts a patient-centered approach, it is important we ask every dying patient and their family what they want. When we do, we find that most would say they want less care and more quality of life in their final days. This is especially pressing today for three reasons

1. There is heightened emphasis on palliative and EOL care, in part, because of Institute of Medicine’s report last year, Dying in America: Improving Quality and Honoring Individual Preferences Near the End of Life1. In it, experts on death and dying made bold recommendations about how hospitals and healthcare professionals should address palliative and EOL care.

2. Officials from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Baltimore, said, in July, it would pay physicians to conduct EOL counseling and start a pilot project to pay for hospice care and treatment instead of one or the other. At the end of the four-year project, CMS will evaluate whether it’s better to continue the current form of reimbursement or pay for both.

In this new program, 150,000 dying patients on Medicare will be allowed to choose hospice care to manage pain and suffering, get EOL counseling and medical treatments – including hospitalization – to help them battle illnesses, according to The New York Times2. Research shows that patients, who get palliative care and traditional medical care, have better quality of life and less intense medical care, resulting in lower costs, the newspaper reported.

It’s likely that CMS officials know that providing appropriate care for dying Medicare patients could control some of the steep EOL costs when the healthcare system does what it normally does: provide heroic measures to keep patients alive whether they want or need that.

In a study published in Health Affairs3, researchers at the Brookdale Department of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, showed considerable savings when patients with terminal illness are enrolled early in palliative and EOL care programs.

If 1,000 Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in hospice within 15 to 30 days before death, CMS could save more than $6.4 million and those patients would be spared 4,100 hospital days. If 1,000 dying Medicare patients enrolled in hospice within 53 to 105 days before death, the savings would be more than $2.5 million, adds the study.

3. Brittany Maynard put the importance of end of life care into the news last year. The 29-year-old newly married teacher and resident of California became interested in assisted suicide after her diagnosis with terminal brain cancer in 2013. Under California law, this option wasn’t available. So, she and her husband rented a home in Oregon, which allows assisted suicide. A year later, at least 13 states are pursuing what is called “death with dignity” legislation. Oregon, only Montana, New Mexico, Vermont, and Washington State currently have such laws.

Given these significant developments, it may be more important than ever for healthcare professionals to ask what patients want in terms of palliative and EOL care. When we fail to ask, we are, by definition, no longer providing patient-centered care. Instead, we’re doing what the healthcare system has always done: provide lots of care whether it meets patient needs or not and wasting precious resources in the process.

Fixing this problem shouldn’t be that difficult. We simply need to make sure we’re delivering patient-centered care. To do that, we need to ensure the patient and family are fully engaged in care delivery. But, as we have seen in the past, members of the care team may not be prepared to talk about death and dying. After all, most went to school to learn to care for the living and keep them alive.

Has the care team talked with the patient about what he or she wants? If there was such a conversation, was the family included? Did the care team discuss what the patient wants without the patient being present?

The patient-engagement step is easy to overlook. Healthcare providers, not trained to talk about death and dying, don’t know how to do it; or believe it’s someone else’s job. So, the first step is to ensure that someone lets the hospital or health system know what the patient wants. In many facilities, this falls to the case manager or social worker who ensures the patient gets what he or she needs from the health system.

James McGregor, MD, an expert in palliative and end of life care and senior medical director for Sutter Health, Sacramento, Calif., says, “Addressing the full spectrum of psychosocial, emotional, physical and spiritual needs helps to raise patient and family satisfaction and prolong life. Patients and family members often have questions about palliative and EOL care and need someone to answer them.”

Those who work in palliative and EOL know the value of engaging patients and their families to guide them through these difficult times, explaining an illness and planning. And, they are likely to create a more sustainable healthcare system.

Complete Article HERE!

Negative feelings about aging can affect hearing and memory in older people


Older adults who have negative feelings about aging also perform less well in tests of hearing and memory when the negative feelings appear to undermine confidence in their ability to hear and remember things.

Changing how older adults feel about themselves could improve their ability to hear and remember.

This was the finding of the first study to look at associations among three variables in the same group of older adults: views on aging, self-perceptions about one’s hearing and memory ability, and one’s actual performance in those skills.

The study, led by the University of Toronto in Canada, is published in the journal Psychology and Aging.

First author Alison Chasteen is a professor of psychology whose research interests include stereotyping across the lifespan and cognitive processes such as memory and attention in social contexts.

She explains there is a need to understand more about the factors that influence the daily lives of older people:

“People’s feelings about getting older influence their sensory and cognitive functions. Those feelings are often rooted in stereotypes about getting older and comments made by those around them that their hearing and memory are failing.”

The study involved 301 older participants aged from 56-96 who completed a series of tests on hearing and memory, and who also underwent assessments of their views and potential concerns about getting older.

Tests of hearing, memory and perception of ability

First, the participants completed standard hearing tests and performed a series of recall tasks to test their memory.

In the memory tests, they looked at one list of 15 words on a computer screen and listened to a different list of words on headphones. They were then invited to write down as many words as they could recall.

There was also another test where the participants were asked to listen to and repeat a list of five words straight away, and then recall them again after a wait of 5 minutes. This was a test of both hearing and memory.

To assess participants’ perception about their own hearing and memory abilities, the researchers asked them to respond to a series of questions and statements. For example, whether they agreed or disagreed with statements like: “I am good at remembering names,” or “I can easily have a conversation on the phone.”

To assess participants’ views on getting older, the researchers asked them to imagine 15 scenarios and give a score indicating their age-related concerns. For example, one scenario is about being involved in a car accident where it is not clear which driver is at fault. The participants are asked to rate how worried they would be about being blamed because of their age.

The participants were also asked to rate their level of concern about being able to find contentment, being alone as they aged or about losing their independence, or being more forgetful as they got older.

Link is stronger when negative views affect self-confidence

When they analyzed the results, the team found that participants who had negative views about aging – and who believed they had problems with their hearing and memory – also performed less well on tests of those abilities.

“That’s not to say all older adults who demonstrate poor capacities for hearing and memory have negative views of aging,” Prof. Chasteen says, adding:

“It’s not that negative views on aging cause poor performance in some functions, there is simply a strong correlation between the two when a negative view impacts an individual’s confidence in the ability to function.”

This indicates a need to appreciate these broader and wider factors when assessing older people’s cognitive and sensory health, she explains. The perceptions they have about their abilities and functioning and how they feel about getting older should be considered.

Prof. Chasteen suggests older people could benefit from learning how they can influence their own aging experience. This could be done by giving them practical exercises to improve thinking, memory and physical performance and help them cast off stereotypes about aging. She concludes:

“Knowing that changing how older adults feel about themselves could improve their abilities to hear and remember will enable the development of interventions to improve their quality of life.”

Meanwhile, Medical News Today recently reported a study that found home-delivered meals reduce feelings of loneliness in older people who are homebound. The randomly controlled trial concluded that Meals on Wheels goes beyond ensuring nutritional health; it also has a positive impact on the emotional health of older people in need.

Complete Article HERE!

101 Ways to Say “Died”



I’m going to start running a series called “101 Ways to Say Died.” In this project, I will be cataloging all the synonyms for “died” that appear in early American epitaphs.

In order to qualify, the word/phrase must appear in the main part of the text, not the verse. That is to say, I’m looking at the part where it says, “Here lies John Doe, died January 1, 1750,” rather than the poetic epitaph that sometimes appears after the primary epitaph. If I can’t make it to 101 with this criterion, I’ll look at the verses. Similarly, I’m going to limit eligibility to pre-1825 stones with the option to extend that to 1850 if I fall short of 101.

Complete list of 101 posts after the break.

Departed This Life
Departed This Life

Part 1: Died
Part 2: Departed This Life
Part 3: Deceased
Part 4: Entred Apon an Eternal Sabbath of Rest
Part 5: Fell a Victim to an Untimely Disease
Part 6: Departed This Transitory Life
Part 7: Killed by the Fall of a Tree
Part 8: Left Us
Part 9: Obit
Part 10: Slain by the Enemy
Part 11: Departed This Stage of Existence
Part 12: Went Rejoycing Out of This World
Part 13: Submiting Her Self to ye Will of God
Part 14: Fell Asleep
Part 15: Changed a Fleeting World for an Immortal Rest
Part 16: Fell Asleep in the Cradle of Death
Part 17: Fell Aslep in Jesus
Part 18: Was Still Born
Part 19: Innocently Retired
Part 20: Expired
Part 21: Perished in a Storm
Part 22: Departed from This in Hope of a Better Life
Part 23: Summoned to Appear Before His Judge
Part 24: Liv’d About 2 Hours
Part 25: Rose Upon the Horizon of Perfect Endless Day
Part 26: Peracto Hac Vita
Part 27: Bid Farewell to this World
Part 28: Was Barbarously Murdered in his Own Home by Gages Bloody Troops
Part 29: Kill’d by a Cart
Part 30: Killed by a Waggon
Part 31: Passed to the Summer Land

Passed to the Summer Land
Passed to the Summer Land

Part 32: Joined the Congregation of the Dead
Part 33: Exchanged Worlds
Part 34: Changed this Mortal Life for that of Immortality
Part 35: Her Longing Spirit Sprung
Part 36: Lost at Sea
Part 37: Hung
Part 38: Finish’d a Life of Examplary Piety
Part 39: Breathed Her Soul Away Into Her Saviour’s Arms
Part 40: Second Birth
Part 41: Passed Into the World of Spirits
Part 42: Fell by the Hands of . . . an Infatuated Man
Part 43: Expired in the Faith of Christ
Part 44: Ended All Her Cares in Quiet Death
Part 45: Yielding Up Her Spirit
Part 46: Clos’d This Earthly Scene
Part 47: Her Existence Terminated
Part 48: Rested From ye Pains & Sorrows of This Life
Part 49: Inhumanly Murdered by Cruel Savages
Part 50: Entered the Regions of Immortal Felicity
Part 51: Lost His Life By a Fall From a Tree
Part 52: Fell Bravely Fighting for the Liberties of His Country
Part 53: Finished a Long and Useful Life
Part 54: Was Shot by a Negroe Soldier
Part 55: Drowned
Part 56: Was Found Lashed to the Mast of His Sunken and Ill-Fated Vessel
Part 57: Began to Dissolve
Part 58: Died . . . From Stabs Inflicted With a Knife
Part 59: Basely Assassinated
Part 60: Resigned His Soul to God
Part 61: Fell on Sleep and Was Laid Unto His Fathers
Part 62: Made His Exit
Part 63: Supposed Foundered at Sea
Part 64: Quitted the Stage
Part 65: Earth Life Closed
Part 66: Frozen to Death
Part 67: Was Called to Close His Eyes on Mortal Things
Part 68: Chearfully Resigned Her Spret Into the Hand of Jesus
Part 69: Entred into His Heavenly House
Part 70: . . . For A Never Ending Eternity
Part 71: Yielded Her Spirit to Its Benevolent Author
Part 72: Lost on Look-Out Shoals
Part 73: Exchanged This for a Better Life
Part 74: Rested From the Hurry of Life
Part 75: Received a Mortal Wound on His Head
Part 76: Died Tryumphingly in Hops of a Goyful Resurrection
Part 77: Kill’d By Lightening
Part 78: Left It
Part 79: Whose Deaths . . . Were Occasioned by the Explosion of the Powder Mill
Part 80: Translation to ye Temple Above
Part 81: Resigned His Mortal Life
Part 82: Call’d . . . To His Reward
Part 83: Arrested by Death
Part 84: . . . And Have Never Since Been Heard of
Part 85: Gone Home
Part 86: Resigned This Life in Calm and Humble Hope of Heaven
Part 87: Was Released
Part 88: Left Her Weeping Friends
Part 89: Laid His Hoary Head to Rest Beneath This Mournful Turf
Part 90: Rested From His Labors

Rested from His Labors
Rested from His Labors

Part 91: Quitted the Stage
Part 92: Was Casually Shot
Part 93: Cut Down in the Bloom of Life
Part 94: Unhappily Parish’d in the Flames
Part 95: Unveiled
Part 96: Nobly Fell By the Impious Hand of Treason and Rebellion
Part 97: Fell in Battle at Molino del Rey
Part 98: Remanded
Part 99: Translated to His Masters Joy
Part 100: Bid Adieu to Earthly Scenes
Part 101: I Am Only Going Into Another Room

Even though the series is over, I’ll carry on posting these as I find them.

Part 102: Was Taken By Death From His Mother’s Breasts
Part 103: Was Suffocated
Part 104: Left to Go and Be With Christ
Part 105: Left This World
Part 106: Passed Onward
Part 107: Passed Away
Part 108: Perished With 41 Other Persons
Part 109: Killed By Falling From Cliffs
Part 110: Vanquished the World and Relinquished It
Part 111: Was Removed By a Dysentery
Part 112: Died in His Country[‘]s Service
Part 113: Commenced Her Inseparable Union with Her Much Beloved Husband and Her God
Part 114: Was Drouned in a Tan Pit
Part 115: Was Instantly Kill’d by a Stock of Boards
Part 116: Submitted to the Stroke of All Conquering Death
Part 117: Died of the 108 Convulsion Fit
Part 118: Hurried From This Life

Complete Article HERE!

Children, Grief, and the Holidays: How You Can Help

By Pamela Gabbay, M.A., FT


The holiday season is painful for adults after the death of a loved one, but it can be even more isolating and distressing for children if they are not given ample guidance from the adults in their lives. Here are some suggestions for how to help your children during the holidays:

1. Suppress the urge to ignore the holidays because they seem too painful to endure. It’s important that children are given the opportunity to celebrate the holidays without feeling bad or feeling guilty. After all, they still have a need to “just be a kid,” especially during the holidays.

2. Discuss the painful feelings that might arise during the holiday season. Children are flooded with memories from the past and they want everything to go back to the way it was before. Help normalize these feelings for your children by allowing them to openly talk about their feelings. As a parent, you might explain that you’ve been feeling that way, too.

3. Together, as a family, create new holiday traditions. When creating these new rituals, ask your children what they want. Their input is extremely important. If you have more than one child, get all of their opinions. Then, as a group, decide the best way to spend the holidays.

4. Include the memory of your loved one in your celebration. Encourage your children to make something meaningful, such as a holiday card or special gift, specifically for your loved one. Decide as a family where these items should be placed during the holidays. Your children might want to place them under the tree, on the fireplace mantle, or in their room. Some children might want to take these items to the cemetery.

5. Spend time together reflecting back on special holiday memories from the past. Have your children draw a picture of their favorite holiday memory. Give them the opportunity to talk about their drawing, if they choose to.

6. Light a candle in memory of your loved one. If you have more than one child, allow each child to have his or her own special candle. Consider creating a place of honor for the candles in your home.children and grief

7. Together, make a holiday ornament in memory of the person who died. Or, consider an ongoing ritual of purchasing an ornament each year in their memory. This ornament could represent anything your loved one held dear.

8. If the person who died had any favorite holiday songs, play these songs with your children and reflect back on meaningful times that you had together while listening to these songs.

9. Plan a special remembrance meal together. Help your children bake a favorite holiday dish or dessert of the person who died. If you have more than one child, offer each child the opportunity to make a favorite dish.

10. As a family, consider volunteering your time to a charity in need during the holidays. Often, giving back to others who are also hurting can be very beneficial to grieving children.

11. Donate toys to a charity that helps children. Have your children help you choose and purchase the toys and then wrap them together. Include your children in the delivery of the toys.

12. Attend a holiday memorial celebration as a family. Many communities hold candle lighting events during the holidays. This provides an opportunity for you and your children to honor the memory of your loved one in a community setting. Check with your local hospice to see if they have an upcoming event this holiday season.

Full Review HERE!

Grief in Times of Celebration: The Empty Spot

By: Glen R. Horst MDiv, DMin, BA

Grieving the death of a family member or close friend is hard, exhausting work. This work may be especially difficult during holiday seasons, and other days that are filled with family and community traditions, such as anniversaries, birthdays, and mother’s and father’s days. During these times you may be keenly aware of the empty spot left by the one who has died, whether that death happened recently or years ago.empty chair2

If your loss is recent, you may dread the approach of a holiday and wonder how you and your family will get through it. While others in your family or friendship circle may share your dread, talking about it with them can be difficult. You may believe that mentioning the empty spot that will be present during the holidays will simply deepen your pain and sadness. The tendency to avoid addressing this empty spot is so common that some have compared it to an elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.

Other people who expect you to be over your grief and to get on with your life may add to your difficulty. Their excitement and happiness in the holiday season may feel like a mockery of your emptiness and a judgment on your sadness. As you and your family try to face the holiday season, you may feel alone and out of step with your community or culture. However, you are not alone. Many people around you are painfully aware of the empty spots left by death in their own family circles. Each grieving family faces a similar task of finding new ways to live through the holidays.

New ways to live through holidays

When bereavement is recent and grief is fresh, people often talk about “getting through” or “surviving” the holidays. This attitude may continue for years after a significant loss. It acknowledges and expresses the pain and distress of loss that wells up at special times of the year. This deep ache and sadness is normal. Recognizing the grief you and your family feel is the starting point for developing new ways of living through the holidays.

There is no one right way of facing holidays when you and your family are grieving. If those in your family circle can share with each other the feelings that come up before or during the holiday, you can think together about how to approach the holiday differently. Exploring ways of honouring old family traditions while creating new ones can give your family a sense of stability and hope in the midst of loss and change. Finding ways to include the reality of the empty spot, without making it the primary focus of the holiday, can help you to take new steps in the healing of your grief.

As you and your family seek new ways of living through holidays you may want to consider the following suggestions.

Honour your loved one

Consider ways of honouring the memory and continuing presence of your loved one as part of your holiday tradition.

  • Light a candle in a special candleholder at a holiday meal or throughout the holiday season.
  • Mark the empty spot at a holiday meal with a photograph, single flower, or some other memento. This could be particularly helpful within the first year or two after your bereavement.
  • Visit the gravesite and leave a holiday symbol, such as an ornament, ritual object, or personal note.
  • Set up a small memory tree and invite family members to hang remembrances on the branches. A memory bowl or basket may be an appropriate alternative.
  • Write a letter or poem to your loved one in your journal. You may want to read it at a family gathering if others are open to this.
  • Have photo albums or slide shows at hand so that family members can reminisce together. This sharing of memories is likely to be bittersweet and may include both laughter and tears. The sharing of memories and stories can affirm the strength and identity of your family in the midst of your sorrow.
  • In conversation or a prayer, express your gratitude for memories of times shared with your loved one and for family ties and the support of friends. Referring to your loss in such direct ways can be painful, but also very comforting.


Respect your limits

Respect your limits and take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

  • Simplify your holiday plans.
    Discuss with your family what is most important and most enjoyable in your past holiday traditions. Think together about how to reshape these in light of the gaps left by your loved one’s death. Roles will have to be shifted, and changes in time, place, and kinds of activities may need to be made. You and your family may feel off balance, but working together to re-create your holiday rituals can help your family discover its resiliency.
  • Exercise in a way that fits for you.
    This may be as simple as going for a daily walk or bike ride, but could include visits to a fitness centre or an exercise routine in your home. Grief often depletes your energy and makes you feel lethargic. Intentional exercise can help you be healthier for responding to the challenges of grief.
  • Maintain or return to a nutritious diet.
    Holiday meals are often a time of indulgence. You may be tempted to compensate for the sorrow you carry with overeating or excessive alcohol. On the other hand, you may experience a lack of appetite and a disinterest in the festivities surrounding food and drink. Avoid judging yourself for either over-indulgence or lack of participation. Use your energy instead to return to a diet that you know works well for your mind and body.
  • Keep yourself centred.
    Take time to be by yourself. Meditate in ways that are familiar and that have proven helpful to calm and centre you. Reflect on the meaning of this holiday and on how its meaning has changed in light of your loss. Contemplate new insights that are emerging. Pace yourself so that you have time to process what you are feeling.


Connect with the outside world

Consider some of these ways in which to remain connected with the world.

  • Accept social invitations and attend social events.
    You may feel you just want to be alone during a holiday season. You may feel out of step with the season and apologetic that you cannot share in its mood. However, contact with your friends can help you deal with the loneliness and sense of isolation that frequently accompany grief. Use your judgment to decide which social events and occasions may be helpful. Give yourself permission to cancel at the last minute or to leave early.
  • Care for others.
    Your sorrow may sensitize you to the suffering or needs of others. Reaching out to others with care can be surprisingly strengthening and healing. Consider these suggestions:
    Give a gift to a charity in memory of your loved.
    Visit a nursing home or volunteer at a soup kitchen.
    Do a small act of kindness for a neighbour or friend.
    Call or email a lonely acquaintance.
  • Participate in community events.
    If religious faith is part of your life, attend a worship service in your faith community. If you do not consider yourself religious, look for community events that capture the meaning of the holiday for you. Events that connect you to the larger meaning of the holiday can give you both inner strength and a sense of community.
  • Attend sessions on coping with grief during the holidays.
    Check whether a local funeral home or hospice and palliative care group in your area offer sessions on coping with grief during the holidays. Such sessions will help you realize you are not alone in what you are feeling and give you new ways to handle holiday traditions after losing a loved one.


The importance of taking charge

Loss and grief are unwelcome intruders into family life. They threaten your family’s identity and common experience. When grief is recent and strong, you and your family members may feel disoriented or lost. This is a time to be gentle with yourself and with each other. However, it is also a time to take charge of what you can. This can help you find new ways of continuing traditions and rituals that have been meaningful in the past, and to work together in creating new ones. The suggestions in this article may help you in these tasks. While they have focused on holidays and holiday seasons, they can be adapted for other significant days in family life, such as birthdays and anniversaries.

Meaningful rituals and traditions can help you and your family to do your grief work. They provide opportunities to:

  • connect to the past and to what seems lost;
  • develop a new sense of yourself and a new identity as a family as you change your attachments to your loved one;
  • give your loved one a new place in your family that marks the movement from being a living participant to someone who is present in spirit.

As you try out new ways of living through holidays, reflect on what is meaningful and what does not work. There may be some trial and error involved in this time of change. Discussion with other family members will help you to find hopeful ways into the future.

Even when there are empty spots holidays can still be special times.

Complete Article HERE!

Holidays a time to talk plainly about end-of-life care wishes

By Mary Thelen

Let’s talk turkey. And, no, I don’t mean gobbling like that festive holiday bird. I mean use the holidays, when family members are gathered, to go beyond the “How ’bout them Packers?” discussion. Use that precious time to speak honestly and openly about your end-of-life wishes. For example:

– Would I want a feeding tube?

– Would I want to be put on a breathing machine?

– Would I want CPR if my heart or breathing stops?

– What would be important to me if my days were numbered?

“Depressing,” some people groan. “I’ll make those big decisions when the time comes.” It’s human to want to put off thoughts of death and dying. Unfortunately, a health care crisis can happen at any time, at any age. When the unthinkable strikes – a debilitating illness, a devastating accident – families who haven’t had these discussions often are left agonizing over “what would my loved one want?”Accidental-Turkey-Death (1)

So, turn down the volume on the game, and tell your family you want to “talk turkey,” a phrase to describe serious conversation. Give yourself and your loved ones the gift of preparation:

– Talk about your wishes with those close to you.

– Seek guidance, if desired, from your religious leader.

– Fill out an advance directive to make your wishes known.


An advance directive is a legal form that tells your doctors what kind care you want if you are too ill to express yourself. One type of advance directive, Power of Attorney for Health Care, is preferred because it makes your care wishes known and also designates a person to make decisions for you if you are unable to speak for yourself.


Power of Attorney Health Care is a free form, and you don’t need an attorney to fill it out. It’s readily available at your local library or online.


If you don’t know where to get started, don’t worry. There are plenty of resources to help you. If you find the language intimidating, don’t be afraid to ask for help from:

– Your local hospital. Spiritual care, palliative care, social services and hospice workers all can help you.

– Your county’s Aging and Disability Resource Center.


These forms relate to end-of-life wishes. Personal care preferences are put in motion when doctors believe a patient will not recover and the person isn’t able to express his wishes at the time.

A Power of Attorney for Health Care form gives a designated decision maker the right to make decisions. Without the form, even a spouse may need to attain legal guardianship to make health care decisions for a loved one. Going through the legal system adds time and money to an already stressful situation.


Tell your family: “I know this is hard to discuss.” Emphasize why it’s important: “I want to make it easier on you during a medical crisis.”

Better yet, depending on their ages, have your kids and grandkids complete an advance directive too. Anyone 18 and older needs an advance directive.

So, pass the gravy and the Power of Attorney for Health Care form.

Don’t forget the turkey. Talking about what’s important at the end of life is one of the most meaningful gifts we can give each other.

Complete Article HERE!

School holds belated funeral for ‘Arthur’ the teaching skeleton that turned out to be a real person

  • High school had been using bones for art and science classes for decades

  • Art technician said skeleton should be tested when she was clearing up

  • School amazed when tests showed the bones were real remains of a man

  • Funeral is now planned which will be attended by students and teachers 


Arthur 1   Arthur 2

A skeleton which has been used for years by a school’s art and science departments is to be given a proper funeral after it was discovered to be real human remains.

Haydock High School in Merseyside has been using the bones – affectionately know as ‘Arthur’ – to allow children to practice their drawing and learn about the body for at least 40 years.

But when an art technician at the school was having a clear-out of the cupboards, she decided to have the bones tested to see if they were real.

She was shocked when the tests came back positive, with experts believing the bones belong to an Indian man who suffered from curvature of the spine and was aged between 17 and 30 when he died in the 1900s.

Sandra Dixon, the school worker behind the discovery, said she found the bones while reorganising the department and thought they should be investigated.

Due to the age of the skeleton, it is currently unclear how the mystery bones ended up in the classroom. It is also not known how the man died or whether he came to Britain before or after his death.

Pictures show he is missing his right leg, the lower section of his left leg and the top of his skull.

Local undertakers Haydock Funeral Service have now offered to provide a full funeral including a wicker coffin, hearse and bearers free of charge.

‘Arthur’ will finally be given a send-off tomorrow at Greenacre Woodland Burials in Rainford, Greater Manchester, at a ceremony attended by staff and pupils from Haydock High.

Ann Ashburner, the school’s head of art, said: ‘When we found out it was a real human skeleton that we had in the school for 50 years, we knew that, by law, a burial was the only way we could correctly dispose of the remains.’

Arthur 3
After discovering the remains were those of a real person, the school has organised a funeral for the man

Ms Ashburner added: ‘He was a human being and it is our duty as a Christian school to do our best for him because all lives are sacred and you have to be respectful when he has served us for so long.

‘You would do the same for any stranger so we owe it to him to lay him to rest properly.’

Ms Ashburner has been at the school for 17 years and has shared a room with the skeleton since the science department replaced him with a plastic one in recent years.

She insists that the funeral has doubled up as an ‘educational tool’ as well as fulfilling a legal obligation.

Ms Ashburner said: ‘The children have been really respectful and have not treated it as a laughing matter at all.

‘They have been asking me where he is all the time and it is really useful educational tool.’

Arthur 4 Arthur 5

She added: ‘As part of their PHSCE studies, the children have to learn about death and it is a difficult subject to cover in a classroom environment.

‘But this will allow the children to experience traditional Christian and Hindu burials without the grief of it all.

‘It is the first time I have heard of a school doing something like this but I am sure that there are plenty of schools with real skeletons who have no idea about it.’

Keely Thompson, of Greenacre Burials, said: ‘We are delighted to provide a final resting place for Arthur. It’s a beautiful place of burial.’

Arthur 6
Teachers say the bones have been at the school for years but it’s unknown how they came to be there

Complete Article HERE!