Cemetery Art

We haven’t had an edition of our Cemetery Art project for awhile, so let’s remedy that now. Among today’s images are two that could easily be considered erotic art.

Providing end-of-life care for special dogs

By Kim Bromley

IN JANUARY 2011, an old female dog was found across the highway from the Marin Humane Society. It had the appearance of an African village dog, emaciated, sick and having very few usable teeth. It also was the sweetest, gentlest, most affectionate dog many of us had met in a long time. A microchip scan revealed the dog’s name: Princess.

sad-sick-dog-by-This-Years-LovePrincess’ guardians were no longer interested in caring for the animal. The dog’s blood panel was unremarkable, and urinary tract infection it had was treatable. But the dog needed to get out more frequently at night than staff could manage, so Princess went into an overnight foster program in which its foster guardian picked the dog up at the shelter around closing time and brought it back the next morning before opening. In late March, I became one of the dogs overnight foster guardians.

Despite a zest for life and a love of people and other dogs, Princess continued to have minor but annoying health issues that included vomiting and diarrhea. The animal’s adoptability was in question.

It was inevitable that my husband and I developed a deep affection for Princess. So when we were asked to take the dog home for end-of-life hospice care, we agreed. The dog’s lack of appetite and continuing digestive problems along with a wet cough suggested the animal might not live much longer. Two months was one specialist’s guess.

As people who believe in gentle and dignified death, we were honored to offer refuge and peace to a sweet old dog and to make its final days warm and comfortable. My first order of business was to find something delicious for the dog to eat. Our resident dog eats a raw diet, and so it was the easiest thing in the world to give a chicken patty to Princess. The dog loved it and ate it right up. And after a few days its cough cleared up along with the vomiting and diarrhea. Could it be that the animal had a grain allergy? Because of the dog’s age and foster status, we never had Princess tested but we were struck by the coincidence.

After a few weeks we tried longer walks with Princess, something more robust than just a stroll around the block. The dog soon became part of my Saturday morning hike — a one-hour, 2.5-mile trek up and down fire roads in Pacheco Valley. Princess was a champ. The dog loved to ride in the car, visit friends and meet other dogs. We took the dog to the beach and on a couple of our dog vacations. In short, the animal thrived for another year. Princess was the salt of the earth and sweet like a homemade dessert. We started calling the dog Betty — for apple brown Betty. Sometimes, Betty Jean.

Eventually, Princess Betty Jean did show real signs of decline. Her legs began to fail, and walks became fewer and shorter.

After conferring with the Humane Society veterinarian we concluded Princess’ time had come.

On a beautiful fall day 16 months after she’d come to our house for hospice care, Princess went to her final sleep surrounded by those who had loved and cared for the dog since the day it arrived at MHS.

Complete Article HERE!

This Sexy-Christmas-Themed Funeral Home Ad Will Break Your Brain

Thanks to the folks at Gawker, we have this gem.Funeraria López

We all know that sex sells — but how about sexy funeral home employees dressed in skimpy two-piece Santa outfits?

Funeraria López in the Guatemalan city of El Progreso bravely volunteered to find out.

The result? Well, let’s just say Christmas came early this year.

Complete Article HERE!

Men and Women

JPM

Maybe you’ve noticed it. I have many times. In a room where someone is dying, and people are gathered around, notice where the women are and where the men are. There are exceptions, but most of the time women are in the room, tidying up, grooming or stroking the hair of the patient, and talking to him/her. The men are normally in the hallway or waiting room. They go get food, run errands, anything that takes them away from the suffering. Why? Men tend to be fixers, and they cannot fix this, so they nervously pace until the women give them something to do. Women are much more comfortable nurturing and sitting, without the need to fix or solve anything. It’s simply built into us to be that way. We each play our role in this end-of-life ritual. It’s not always smooth, but we muddle through until the job of waiting is done.

attending a dying person

Complete Article HERE!

10 extraordinary burial ceremonies from around the world

By James Michael Dorsey

Not all cultures believe in burying the dead in the ground. Here are 10 unique ceremonies from around the world.

THE MODERN DICTIONARY defines the word ‘burial’ as placing a body in the ground.

But burying the deceased was not always the case.

Just as primitive man has long worshiped the four elements of Earth, Sky, Water, and Fire, so too have these elements taken their place in burial practices as diverse as the different tribes of the earth.

The way mankind deals with its dead says a great deal about those left to carry on. Burial practices are windows to a culture that speak volumes about how it lives.

As we are told in Genesis, man comes from dust, and returns to it. We have found many different ways to return. Here are 10 that I found particularly fascinating:

Air Sacrifice – Mongolia

Lamas direct the entire ceremony, with their number determined by the social standing of the deceased. They decide the direction the entourage will travel with the body, to the specific day and time the ceremony can happen.

Mongolians believe in the return of the soul. Therefore the lamas pray and offer food to keep evil spirits away and to protect the remaining family. They also place blue stones in the dead persons bed to prevent evil spirits from entering it.

No one but a lama is allowed to touch the corpse, and a white silk veil is placed over the face. The naked body is flanked by men on the right side of the yurt while women are placed on the left. Both have their respective right or left hand placed under their heads, and are situated in the fetal position.

The family burns incense and leaves food out to feed all visiting spirits. When time comes to remove the body, it must be passed through a window or a hole cut in the wall to prevent evil from slipping in while the door is open.

The body is taken away from the village and laid on the open ground. A stone outline is placed around it, and then the village dogs that have been penned up and not fed for days are released to consume the remains. What is left goes to the local predators.

The stone outline remains as a reminder of the person. If any step of the ceremony is left out, no matter how trivial, bad karma is believed to ensue.

Sky Burial – Tibet

This is similar to the Mongolian ceremony. The deceased is dismembered by a rogyapa, or body breaker, and left outside away from any occupied dwellings to be consumed by nature.

To the western mind, this may seem barbaric, as it did to the Chinese who outlawed the practice after taking control of the country in the 1950s. But in Buddhist Tibet, it makes perfect sense. The ceremony represents the perfect Buddhist act, known as Jhator. The worthless body provides sustenance to the birds of prey that are the primary consumers of its flesh.

To a Buddhist, the body is but an empty shell, worthless after the spirit has departed. Most of the country is surrounded by snowy peaks, and the ground is too solid for traditional earth internment. Likewise, being mostly above the tree line, there is not enough fuel for cremation.

Pit Burial – Pacific Northwest Haida

Before white contact, the indigenous people of the American northwest coast, particularly the Haida, simply cast their dead into a large open pit behind the village.

Their flesh was left to the animals. But if one was a chief, shaman, or warrior, things were quite different.

The body was crushed with clubs until it fit into a small wooden box about the size of a piece of modern luggage. It was then fitted atop a totem pole in front of the longhouse of the man’s tribe where the various icons of the totem acted as guardians for the spirits’ journey to the next world.

Written history left to us by the first missionaries to the area all speak of an unbelievable stench at most of these villages. Today, this practice is outlawed.

Viking Burial – Scandinavia

We have all seen images of a Viking funeral with the body laid out on the deck of a dragon ship, floating into the sunset while warriors fire flaming arrows to ignite the pyre.

While very dramatic, burning a ship is quite expensive, and not very practical.

What we do know is most Vikings, being a sea faring people, were interred in large graves dug in the shape of a ship and lined with rocks. The person’s belongings and food were placed beside them. Men took their weapons to the next world, while women were laid to rest wearing their finest jewelry and accessories.

If the deceased was a nobleman or great warrior, his woman was passed from man to man in his tribe, who all made love to her (some would say raped) before strangling her, and placing her next to the body of her man. Thankfully this practice is now, for the most part, extinct.

Fire Burial – Bali

On the mostly Hindu Isle of Bali, fire is the vehicle to the next life. The body or Mayat is bathed and laid out on a table where food offerings are laid beside it for the journey.

Lanterns line the path to the persons hut to let people know he or she has passed, and act as a reminder of their life so they are not forgotten.

It is then interred in a mass grave with others from the same village who have passed on until it is deemed there are a sufficient number of bodies to hold a cremation.

The bodies are unearthed, cleaned, and stacked on an elaborate float, gloriously decorated by the entire village and adorned with flowers. The float is paraded through the village to the central square where it is consumed by flames, and marks the beginning of a massive feast to honor and remember the dead.

Spirit Offerings – Southeast Asia

Throughout most of Southeast Asia, people have been buried in the fields where they lived and worked. It is common to see large stone monuments in the middle of a pasture of cows or water buffalo.

The Vietnamese leave thick wads of counterfeit money under rocks on these monuments so the deceased can buy whatever they need on their way to the next life

In Cambodia and Thailand, wooden “spirit houses” sit in front of almost every hut from the poorest to the most elaborate estate. These are places where food and drink are left periodically for the souls of departed relatives to refuel when necessary. The offerings of both countries also ask the spirits of the relatives to watch over the lands and the families left behind.

Predator Burial – Maasai Tribe

The Maasai of East Africa are hereditary nomads who believe in a deity known as Enkai, but this is not a single being or entity.

It is a term that encompasses the earth, sky, and all that dwells below. It is a difficult concept for western minds that are more used to traditional religious beliefs than those of so-called primitive cultures.

Actual burial is reserved for chiefs as a sign of respect, while the common people are simply left outdoors for predators to dispose of, since Maasai believe dead bodies are harmful to the earth. To them when you are dead, you are simply gone. There is no after life.

Skull Burial – Kiribati

On the tiny island of Kiribati the deceased is laid out in their house for no less than three days and as long as twelve, depending on their status in the community. Friends and relatives make a pudding from the root of a local plant as an offering.

Several months after internment the body is exhumed and the skull removed, oiled, polished, and offered tobacco and food. After the remainder of the body is re-interred, traditional islanders keep the skull on a shelf in their home and believe the native god Nakaa welcomes the dead person’s spirit in the northern end of the islands.

Cave Burial – Hawaii

In the Hawaiian Islands, a traditional burial takes place in a cave where the body is bent into a fetal position with hands and feet tied to keep it that way, then covered with a tapa cloth made from the bark of a mulberry bush.

Sometimes the internal organs are removed and the cavity filled with salt to preserve it. The bones are considered sacred and believed to have diving power.

Many caves in Hawaii still contain these skeletons, particularly along the coast of Maui.
Ocean Burial

The open sea

Since most of our planet is covered with water, burial at sea has long been the accepted norm for mariners the world over.

By international law, the captain of any ship, regardless of size or nationality has the authority to conduct an official burial service at sea.

The traditional burial shroud is a burlap bag, being cheap and plentiful, and long in use to carry cargo. The deceased is sewn inside and is weighted with rocks or other heavy debris to keep it from floating.

If available, the flag of their nation covers the bag while a service is conducted on deck. The body is then slid from under the flag, and deposited in Davy Jones locker.

In olden days, the British navy mandated that the final stitch in the bag had to go through the deceased person’s lip, just to make sure they really were dead. (If they were still alive, having a needle passed through their skin would revive them).

It is quite possible that sea burial has been the main form of burial across the earth since before recorded history.

The Final Frontier

Today, if one has enough money, you can be launched into space aboard a private commercial satellite and a capsule containing your ashes will be in permanent orbit around the earth.

Perhaps this is the ultimate burial ceremony, or maybe the beginning of a whole new era in which man continues to find new and innovative ways to invoke spirits and provide a safe passage to whatever awaits us at the end of this life.

Any other death ceremonies you’ve encountered? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Complete Article HERE!