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Death, Wills and Inheritance



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Dead People and Dinners

Dead people have eaten lot of dinners - whenever you tell someone that a mutual acquaintance has died they always go "That's funny, I had dinner with him just last week"

Shakespeare

Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages;
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Part of the Funeral Ritual

Thailand has "heavenly paper" shops to cater for their belief that the dead need material things in the afterlife, but they don't have to be real - so you can buy cardboard mercedes benz, currency ($US500m for $45),fine clothes etc

The annual Chinese "Tombsweeping" celebration has been mentioned several times in News of the Weird, but has experienced a resurgence since 2008 when the government reinstated it as an official holiday. The theory is that people bring valuable items (such as jewelry) to ancestors' gravesites and bury them with the body, which will upgrade the relative's afterlife. Now, however, practitioners seem convinced that paper images of items are sufficient (and, of course, less expensive). Many simply leave signed (and generous!) checks for the dead, according to an April New York Times dispatch, and others bury representations of "mistresses" to accompany presumably-frisky corpses.



Why Do They Have To Lie Down?

Ben Johnson wanted to be buried Westminster Abbey, so begged King Charles for 1 square foot - that's what he got - buried him standing up

Bury Your Enemy

Emperor Haile Sellassi of Ethiopa, killed in a coup, was buried head down in a long drop toilet; a ceremonial throne/toilet was erected above so that the victor could think about his victim at regular intervals

My car is my coffin

Restaurateur Tony Astle reckons he's going to be buried sitting in his Rolls Royce. His wife isn't so keen - she wants to be cremated. Astle said he's pointed out to her that there are 6 ashtrays in the Rolls

Biker Buried Riding Harley in Giant Transparent Casket

Link

Wrong Diagnosis

62 yo council worker in England told that he had pancreatic cancer and had only 6 months to live. So sold everything, stopped paying mortgage, went on big spend-up .... but turned out it was all a mistake, doesn't have cancer but now he's broke

Digital Immortality

In March, the U.S. patent office approved Google's application covering robot software that mimics human personalities (voice, mannerisms) with a variety of moods (happiness, fear, surprise) with a notable use that family members might employ it to continue to "interact" with a loved one after he has passed. One disquieting possibility might allow a deceased person to be directed to act in ways that the person never acted while alive. [Discover Magazine, 4-26-2015]

Stay Forever

Visitors to the South Cloisters at University College London are often rather taken aback by the sight of Jeremy Bentham, a Victorian reformer who decreed in his will that his skeleton be preserved "wearing his usual clothes and sitting on his favourite chair" with his embalmed head placed on top. The figure is rumoured to be bought to college council meetings, where he is listed in the minutes as "Jeremy Bentham: present but not voting"

How Long To Live

Woody Allen movie his doctor tells him he only has a month to live. "Oh no, you mean I'll be dead in 30 days?" "No, this is February, you only get 28"

Popular Day To Die

22 Nov 1963 not only JFK assassinated, but also Aldous Huxley and C.S.Lewis died

ISIS's very public recent executions of a Jordanian pilot and two Japanese citizens were met with starkly different reactions. In Jordan, King Abdullah II led his nation in a call for bloody revenge. In Japan (according to a February Associated Press dispatch from Tokyo) feelings were mixed because of "meiwaku"--Japan's cultural feeling that the dead victims (and their families) were "causing trouble" by placing themselves in harm's way. Said one man cited by the AP, "In the old days, their parents would have had to commit hara-kiri to apologize." In fact, both victims' families did repeatedly apologize for inconveniencing the government, which had warned citizens to stay away from the war zone.

Permanence

At a very early age we learned the concept of 'people permanence': even though someone is out of sight, they still exist. We can't switch this off just because someone has died, so we still imagine them existing on some invisible locale, 'living' their dead lives

Crazy Way To Die

Sounds like a Homer Simpson trick, but a guy did get crushed to death by a Coke machine after he got his hand stuck up it trying to steal a can.

F*** to Death

2009: Sergey Tuganov, a 28-year-old Russian, bet two women that he could continuously have sex with them both for twelve hours. Several minutes after winning the $4,300 bet, he suffered a heart attack and died, apparently because of having ingested an entire bottle of Viagra just after accepting the bet

Death Uni

U of Glamorgan offers degree in forensic science - has whole 'village' where lecturers set up violent rape and murder scenes

Necrophilia

3 guys in Wisconsin who admitted they were trying to dig up corpse of a woman so they could have sex with it got off because Wisconsin had no law against necrophilia.

"And Another Thing, Dad": Michael May, 44, was arrested in Lincoln County, Ky., in August after the Pilot Baptist Cemetery near Stanford, Ky., reported that he had tried to dig up the grave of his dead father "in order to argue with him," according to Lexington's WLEX-TV. May told officers his dad had died about 30 years ago. (Alcohol was involved in the decision to dig.)

We All Die Eventually

Economist mag ran obit for Japanese guy who died 2010, aged 93, who survived both atomic bombs. He was working in Hiroshima when first dropped, suffered burns to upper body and face, ruptured eardrums and burnt off all hair. Went home to Nagasaki, where they bombed him again.

Elephants Mourn

Elephants in game reserve in Kenya - when matriarch of one of families bitten by a snake. members of another family tried to help support and comfort her. When she died, elephants from four separate families on reserve came to mourn over her body. BUT limits of animal compassion - none of others adopted her orphan 6 month old unweaned calf, and she starved to death

Death Advice

Retiring coroner in Melbourne Australia - said death and birth the only certainties in life, and as such, it's up to us to maximise the period in between

* The New York Court of Appeals ruled in June that, when a body is taken for official autopsy and organs are removed (including the brain), the deceased's family does not necessarily have a right to receive the body with organs re-inserted. "[N]othing in our common law jurisprudence," the judges wrote, mandates "that the medical examiner do anything more than produce the . . . body." The family had demanded the entire body back for a "proper" Catholic burial.

Profit From Death Insurance

Habersham Funding of Georgia and its competitors make their money by buying terminally-ill clients' life insurance policies for lump sums, then continuing to pay the policies' premiums so that they collect, as beneficiaries, upon death. The companies' business model therefore depends on those clients dying quickly; a client who outlives expectations turns the investment sour. Thus, according to an August report by the New York Times, the companies run extensive background checks on the illnesses and lifestyles of potential clients and employ sophisticated computer algorithms that predict, better than doctors can, how long a client will live. Supposedly, according to the report, the companies are nonchalant about erroneous predictions. No company, they say, has an official policy of hoping for early death.

Deathclock

Deathclock.com takes a few stats - sex, DOB, physical data like BMI, health data like smoking and drinking habits, and gives you an estimate - in some cases you get a message "I'm sorry but your time has expired" - also livingto100.com

Coroner's Shop

'Part of you thinks it's in poor taste, part of you wants an X-Large'. That's the slogan at Skeletons in the Closet, an improbable gift shop in the Los Angeles Coroner's Office. The shop, squeezed into a second-floor office, sells hats, mugs, clothing, toe tags, beach towels, mouse pads, key chains, magnets and more, all carrying the Coroner's name along with a cute body-outline logo. The 'body bag' garment bag is especially apropos. The idea for the shop came about quite by accident. Employees often had souvenir items made for company events like picnics and sporting competitions. Friends and relatives clamored for a chance to buy these unique items so a tiny 'shop' was set up in a janitor's closet. The rest is history. The shop is so popular they're getting ready to take over yet another office. The funds raised at the shop support the Youthful Drunk Driver Visitation Program. They're dying for your business. Skeletons in the Closet, Los Angeles County Coroner's Office, 1104 N Mission Rd, 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90033; [323 343 0760]; web: www.lacoroner.com. Open Mon-Fri 8.00am-4.30pm.

Association of the Dead

In eastern Uttar Pradesh, there is a Mritak Sangh - the Association of the Dead - founded by Lal Bihari Mritak. And it is no joke. Lal Bihari, born in 1961 in Azamgarh district, went to apply for a bank loan in 1976, only to find that he had been officially declared dead. From 1976 to 1994, he continued to be dead, before he could win back his right to be “alive” again after fighting a long legal battle. Lal Bihari's plight - the result of an avaricious uncle who wanted to usurp the family property (the uncle had bribed the officials to tweak the records and get him declared dead) - was not his alone, as he found out during his struggle to reverse the official records. So, he formed the Mritak Sanghin Azamgarh, reportedly with a membership of over 20,000 members from all over India. During his struggle, Lal Bihari did everything possible to draw the attention of the powers that be - he held his own funeral, demanded widow's compensation for his wife, and even fought elections against Rajiv Gandhi in 1989 just to prove that he was alive. Now Lal Bihari, who won the Ig Nobel Award in 2003 for his 'posthumous' activities, has officially appended the title Mritak to his name to highlight his plight which luckily for him ended well.

Corpse Hotels

Death is big business in Japan, with 1.2 million people a year passing away and overtaxing the country's cemeteries and crematoriums. With the average wait for disposal at least several days, and space running short in funeral homes, "corpse hotels" have opened in many cities, with climate-controlled "guest rooms" renting for the equivalent of about $155 a night, with viewing rooms where relatives can visit the bodies daily until cremation is available.

Open Mike Funerals

Author Kevin Ireland attack on conventional funerals ("too theatrical") particularly 'open-mike' shambles - people just get up and babble - sometimes its moving but mostly its sheer self-promotion and justification

An Unusual Obituary

John E. Holden, alias Jack, took the Deep Six, Monday, May 27, 2013 at the Willow Valley Retirement Community after a life filled with endless laughter and debauchery....he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his combat activities, the Air Medal for action in Okinawa in 1945 and the Distinguished Fleeing Cross for avoiding numerous women who were seeking child support under unproven circumstances.... Jack was widowed ten years ago after sixty-one years of marriage to Elaine Ewing Holden. He has had a number of other wives recently, none of which were his. (NB he wrote it himself)

Too Big For The Coffin

Funeral home Louisiana lost licence bc cut legs off dead guy so he wd fit into coffin the family had bought

London skeletons

Tens of thousands of skeletons that lie hidden beneath the streets, houses and offices of London have been revealed for the first time on a map, in a collaboration between the Museum of London and The Times. The electronic map allows readers to zoom in on streets to see how many bodies they walk over on the way to work. It pinpoints the location of many of the 37,000 skeletons the museum found in the capital. Curators have kept 17,000 of these in storage at the museum's headquarters in Central London, but re-interred the rest.

Battle of Waterloo

While an estimated 50,000 died at Waterloo, many were burnt in mass graves and the bones of many others were removed commercially for fertiliser in the 1830s. Teeth were extracted from some corpses and made into dentures known as “Waterloo teeth”.

I Am The Walrus

Archaeologists exploring a graveyard at St Pancras stumbled across a coffin containing a mysterious set of bones. They were later identified as belonging to a walrus. An explanation for the animal's dignified burial has not yet surfaced.

Roman Burials

Latin style burial. First of all, the tomb is above ground. and, one of those tombs can hold over 80 people. The deceased are not embalmed or preserved. They are set inside the tomb, and then it is sealed. While it decays, the temperature gets extremely hot inside, completely cooking off the flesh. That's why the rule mandates the newly interred to be sealed in for a year and a day. When the seal is broken, the body is nothing but bones and dust. If it's time to put in a new body, you shove the previous to the back of the tomb, where there's a hole. the bones fall down the hole to continue to break down (probably upon a stack of all the previous people dumped in). Re-seal it, and let the new body decay. rack 'em and stack 'em. A body takes up very little space and continues to decay while in there. It's basically a constant oven (if there is stuff to decay). You can easily fit all the members of several generations of family in there.

Bucket List and Chock Full O' Nuts

Bucket List gave huge impetus to Chock Full O' Nuts cans as funeral urns after the film showed ashes being taken up Mt Everest in one.

Bikie Funerals

An ordained minister is helping bikers to go out in style with a bespoke motorcycle hearse for their funerals. The Rev Ray Biddis's trike-hearse, converted from a Suzuki Boulevard 1400cc Intruder, allows next-of-kin to ride pillion as loved ones are carried behind in the coffin. Mr Biddis, 54 and a widower from Halifax, West Yorkshire, said: “Alongside God, my passion is biking. I've been a biker for 35 years, and I wouldn't be seen dead in a car for my final journey. Launching a motorcycle hearse outfit is a dream I've had for years.”

The Body

The New York Court of Appeals ruled in June that, when a body is taken for official autopsy and organs are removed (including the brain), the deceased's family does not necessarily have a right to receive the body with organs re-inserted. "[N]othing in our common law jurisprudence," the judges wrote, mandates "that the medical examiner do anything more than produce the . . . body." The family had demanded the entire body back for a "proper" Catholic burial.

Long Remembrance

Comedian Jack Benny and Mary Livingstone had been married for 48 years when Jack passed away in 1974. The day after Benny's death, his wife, Mary, received one long-stemmed rose from a florist. The next day, another came. When Mary called to ask about the deliveries, she learned that Benny had stipulated in his will, "one perfect red rose daily for the rest of Mary's life."

Not everyone remembers you fondly

On-line memorials make good opportunity for wide community to come together, but not without problems. Legacy.com carries death notices for almost all 2.4m Americans who die each year. Has had to employ 45 full-time moderators to screen out vindictive comments. "Reading the obits, he sounded like a great father. Signed his son Peter."!

Wills and Inheritance

Varying attitudes to inheritance - some think it is a right, and traditional parents think they have an obligation to leave as much as possible to their heirs. Others take attitude that they earned it and so joke about spending their kid's inheritance.

Warren Buffett has made it clear to his kids that will leave almost all his money to charity - but in 26 out of 27 EU countries this wd not only be shocking but illegal (Brit only exception) at least 1/2 estate has to be shared among heirs, and shared equally. Anglo-Saxon ideals of freedom/indep/self-help vs Continental Europe's social sharing

Canadian lawyer left a will which consisted mostly of practical jokes - to 3 men who hated each other he left equal shares in a house; shares in a local jockey club went to 2 crusaders against gambling, and most of his estate he promised to the Toronto mother who gave birth to the largest number of children in next decade. (Although moralists tried to get this clause struck out, 4 women who each gave birth to 9 kids, wound up sharing $1/2m.)

Wealthy advertising executive Robert Schwartz died in 1997 and left a sizable estate, including a special "Party Trust" for his relatives but with one condition: They must all celebrate Schwartz's birthday every August for at least 10 years at a posh party in Naples, Fla., with all expenses paid, and people missing two straight, or two in five years, would forfeit their inheritances. The Naples Daily News reported in September that each adult relative would receive up to $2,500 per party attended, and a final Party Trust accounting is now in the hands of a judge

When it comes to legacies, the water can be muddied by loans and gifts given during person's lifetime. The children who received the help will never remember and the siblings will never forget

Obituaries

LT letter which suggested papers should print pre-Obits when people turn 65, so that they could read the judgements of their peers, as opposed to waiting and hoping you could read the full version

(Article in London Times abt people who've suffered premature obituaries) However, sometimes the shock may be salutary: when the brother of Arthur Nobel died, a French newspaper is said to have run a premature obituary of the Swedish gunpowder magnate, describing him as a "merchant of death". He subsequently founded the peace prize to ensure that posterity had a better opinion of him than the obituary writer.

"Keep not your roses for my cold dead brow
The way is lonely, let me feel them now."

Green Coffins

British company making woollen coffins. Each coffin uses the equivalent of three fleeces from lowland sheep, helping to provide a market for British wool that has fallen out of favour with international mills. The coffins are lined with organic cotton, recycled cardboard is used to make them rigid, and they have handles made from jute. The firm is even making miniature versions for pets. The wool has a truly green lineage, being British, natural, sustainable and biodegradable, said Hainsworth. He hopes the wool coffin will cater to a growing market for green burials. Those who are trying to lead a green lifestyle now want their exit to be kind to the planet, and funeral directors are responding with coffins made from everything from cardboard to wicker.The number of specialist green funeral organisers is expanding rapidly and mainstream operators are increasingly offering eco-friendly alternatives. Sales have risen to 10,000 a year, from 200 when it was launched in 1999. Interments at natural burial sites are rising by about 30% a year, according to the Natural Death Centre, which thinks demand for green coffins is rising at a similar rate.

Have The Final Say

Finalthoughts.com - you can email people after death (which reminds me of story I heard about guy who shot himself; then for next 2 weeks his widow kept finding these accusatory notes around the house - so unfair, she reckoned, because she had no right of reply)

Have The Final Say Back

$5 a word telegrams to 'other side' - an entrepreneur set up service whereby he would contact people who were at death’s door and get them to take message to the Already Dead .. at $5 a word

Until recently, the US agency responsible for tracing the remains of missing servicemen had been fraught with controversy. There was uproar when it was revealed in 2013 that it had been holding phoney repatriation ceremonies for seven years. Families gathered at an airbase in Hawaii for the return of remains were never told that the coffins were empty; planes used were often towed into position from another part of the base.

Squash

In April in Marion, Ill., an alert newspaper carrier discovered an 84-year-old woman who was alive but had been pinned to the floor for four days without food or water because her much larger husband, 77, had died of a heart attack and fallen on top of her.

(In a notorious 1984 incident at a strip club in San Francisco, a dancer had been pinned down overnight underneath the body of club manager Jimmy Ferrozzo, who had had a fatal heart attack while having sex with her. She could not move because they were lying on top of a stage piano that descended on a pulley, for the dancer's grand entrance, and Ferrozzo, in the throes of ecstasy, had accidentally tripped the switch sending it back up, where it jammed against the ceiling.)

Funeral Directors

US TV ad (for music company) - old guy driving along stereo blaring out "Another One Bites The Dust" - camera pulls back and he's driving a hearse

What Do You Really Think Of Me?

Guy in South Africa staged a fake funeral to see what friends really thought of him

Billy Connolly

Billy Connolly reckoned that when he died he wanted to be buried under a slab on island Loch Lomond where people could have picnics and cups of tea. He wanted a memorial stone with very fine print so people would have to get up close to read "You're standing on my balls"

Salvadore Dali

Salvadore Dali - when he buried his beloved wife Gala, he had a hole punched in side of crypt so that when he died they could be buried holding hands (but later changed his mind and now buried in Salvadore Dali Museum - under an anon grey slab in centre of hall)

Getting Round The Will

Flashy dentist in London early 1800's - wife tried to repay him for a spiteful marriage with a spiteful will, leaving her fortune to a distant relative, "the minute I'm dead and buried" so of course he didn't bury her (had corpse preserved and for many years exhibited it in his front room - finally destroyed in WW2 bombing of London)

Death and The Body Farm

The Body Farm in Knoxville Tennessee - a forensic testing ground to learn how corpses decompose in various situations - people will their bodies to the farm and they are put in car boots, submerged in water, half buried in different soils etc to see what sequence of events take place - which insects and beetles at which times, how long for the flesh to to rot etc

Faking Death

English miser who pretended to be dead in hope that servants would fast in mourning - instead they threw open the pantry and wine cellars in celebratory feast - when he 'arose' from his deathbed to protest, they took fright and clubbed the 'ghost' down

Murder

Tom Elton, 54, and Brenda Blondell, 59, both convicted murderers who became prison-rights activists, eventually won parole, continued their community work together in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area, and married each other. However, in June, police arrested Elton and charged him with murdering Blondell.

He Looks Good For A Dead Man

The 70-year-old died of a heart attack and his body was on display at a funeral home, when his family noticed that it still had a healthy pink glow, a spokesman for the funeral home said. They then called in the doctor to confirm that their loved one was in fact dead. The doctor concluded that the man still had a healthy glow, despite having passed away, because the pacemaker he was wearing was still running.

Death and Cemeteries

Billy Connolly - Catholic bishop in Ireland about 150 years ago given a new cemetery by government - insisted that the graves be (religiously) segregated and that an underground wall separate the Catholics and Protestants ("what did he think they were going to do?")

Death and Pensions

The US is still paying war pensions from the Civil War which fought 1860 to 1865. Last American Civil War veteran widow. William Cattrell was 16 in 1863 when enlisted in Confederate Army. In 1934 aged 86, he married Mandie, then 19 (she was hired to clean house for $12 month, then he said if she was going to live in house they would have to get married) He died after falling off a horse in 1937 - she's still alive in her 90s, and still getting a war pension from the US Government

Death and Executions

US executions - gender is the most significant factor: women hardly ever get executed. Race, despite what you might think, isn't an important factor. The only other significant factor was education - fewer years spent at high school, more likely to die.

Death and Personal Choices

In a recent study published in the journal Operations Research, Keeney, a decision analyst at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, crunched data from the Centers for Disease Control to assess how many deaths in the US are due to personal choices - things like smoking, overeating, or unsafe sex. The results: A remarkable 55 percent of deaths for people age 15 to 64 can be attributed to decisions with readily available alternatives.

In other words, most people are the agents of their own demise. That's a vast difference from a century ago, when, Keeney estimates, a scant 5 percent of deaths were brought on by personal decisions (infectious diseases account for most of the rest).

What Kills Us

So are we facing an epidemic of stupidity? More like an epidemic of ignorance. Our health and well-being are determined by numerous daily cost-benefit calculations. But too many of us get the math wrong. We may know that it's bad to drive without a seat belt. But we don't correctly weigh the cost (the three seconds it takes to buckle up) against the risk (death).

Keeney notes that society already holds people accountable for some actions: Some workplaces disqualify smokers as job candidates; alcoholics are often denied liver transplants. We could deploy more of these penalties: costlier health insurance for the obese, or criminalizing texting while driving the way we do drunk driving. But in the end, punishment is inevitable anyway. "The ultimate penalty is death," Keeney says. "I don't want to totally thwart survival of the fittest."

Epitaphs

Old joke about hypochondriac who wanted his tombstone to read "I told you I was ill" - Spike Milligan tried to have that as his epitaph but local diocese would only allow it if it was in Gaelic

What Happens After You Die

Some people have rather confused ideas about what happens to them and their body after they die - A terminally ill woman is having pictures of all her beloved pets tattooed on her body - so she can 'take them with her' when she dies. Jayne Jubb, 47, who shares her home with more than 20 animals, including raccoons, a piranha, snake and a fox, has already had half of them drawn across her neck, arms and back.'When I was diagnosed with lung cancer and told I didn't have long to live I knew it would be my animals I'd miss the most,' she said. 'So I came up with the idea of getting all the animals tattooed over my body.'My husband thought I was a bit crazy at first but I've always liked tattoos and this seemed like a good way of keeping my pets with me forever.'

Assisted Suicide

A certain bridge in Ghangzhou, China, has become popular for suicide (12 attempts in a 45-day period in April and May), and with each incident, traffic is slowed or halted for hours while crews attempt to talk the distraught person down or perform rescues. Mr. "Chen" was on the ledge in May, according to an Agence France-Presse dispatch, but he couldn't make up his mind about jumping. One frustrated motorist, Lai Jiansheng, ended the suspense by walking up to Chen and pushing him off. Chen survived, and Lai was arrested.

Death and Suicide

Suicide Destinations:
Golden Gate Bridge SF, 1200 recorded suicides since 1937 construction
Bloor St Viaduct Toronto 400 since 1919
Eiffel Tower Paris 370 since 1889
Leaning Tower of Pisa 87 recorded since 1850
Sydney Harbour Bridge 40 since 1932
Empire State Bldg 31 since 1931

Death Midwife

When Jerrigrace Lyons goes out on a case, she carries a basic set of tools: makeup kit, cardboard caskets and a handbook with practical instructions for icing and transporting bodies. Lyons is a "death midwife," a specialist in the little-known field of helping people manage the passing of a loved one - outside the traditional funeral industry. As the nation reels through its worst economic crisis in decades, her business is booming. Lyons also guides families through the legalities and paperwork of at-home funerals -- death certificates and body transport permits - while providing emotional support and counseling. Her services can run from $500 to $1,500.

Air Con Coffins

COFFINS with an in-built air-conditioning system that claims to keep bodies "fresh" are being snapped up in Serbia. Manufacturers in the town of Novi Sad say the hi-tech body chillers were designed to keep corpses well-preserved before burial during the hot summer months.The bizarre caskets retail at $4,500 and are proving to be a real hit with punters - many of whom are snapping them up in hopes they will have a more comfortable afterlife.

Graves

Elsie Poncher decided reluctantly in August to go back on a promise she had made to her late husband. Richard Poncher had purchased a crypt (for himself) just above the one in which the body of Marilyn Monroe rests in a Los Angeles memorial park, but Elsie now needs money and thus offered the crypt for sale in August, planning to move Richard to a less prominent place. Richard had been assured by Elsie that he could spend eternity lying face down "over Marilyn."

Funerals

A devout Hindu lost his High Court battle today for the legal right to be cremated on a traditional open-air funeral pyre. Spiritual healer Davender Ghai, 70, told a judge at a recent hearing that a pyre was essential to "a good death" and the release of his spirit into the afterlife. In his ruling the judge said: "The Cremation Act 1902 and its attendant 2008 regulations are clear in their effect: the burning of human remains, other than in a crematorium, is a criminal offence. "This effectively prohibits open air funeral pyres." (Fark tag: "Backyard Cremations: Still Illegal")

Cremation Laws vs Beliefs

GANGS are thought to be kidnapping and murdering elderly people, then selling the corpses for cremation to superstitious families who do not want their own dead loved ones incinerated. The bereaved in southern China are buying substitute bodies for the cremation and secretly burying their dead relatives, according to press reports. Cremation is promoted as hygienic and space-saving, and in some regions it is obligatory. However, many believe if a body is burnt the spirit will be angry and misfortune will befall descendants. If it has the proper rites the spirit is content in the next world and protects relatives.

Funeral Eulogy

Difficult Times for Funeral Eulogists: (1) A 54-year-old man was found dead of a heart attack in a pornography video booth at the Beate Uhse sex shop in Cologne, Germany, in December. (2) A 42-year-old comedian (and owner of a comedy club in Blackburn, England) was accidentally asphyxiated in April inhaling laughing gas while viewing computer pornography.

Death and Tapephobia

Freud de Melo, 73, operates a quirky tourist park in central Brazil that features stone models of Noah's Ark and other sculptures, but he also notoriously suffers from taphephobia, the fear of being buried alive, and one of his sculptures is his own elaborate, fear-assuaging crypt. His vault houses a TV and fruit pantry, has access to fresh air, and features two built-in plastic cones that act as megaphones to the outside, reassuring de Melo that if he is buried too soon, he will be able to protest (as he demonstrated for a Wall Street Journal reporter, for an October dispatch, screaming into the countryside, "Help me! Come quick! I've been buried alive!"). (Taphephobia was more common in centuries past, afflicting George Washington among others, because doctors often missed lingering signs of life in sick patients.

Death and Post-Rapture

In a similar vein, an American athiest has started a "Post Rapture" service where he promises to deliver "I told you so" cards to non-believers after Judgement Day

Lighter Conversation Starters about Death

I blame myself for her death. I shot her.
When I die I want to go quietly in my sleep like my grandfather, not yelling and screaming like his passengers
I almost met Elvis once but the shovel broke
Not supposed to say anything about the dead unless it's good, so it's like "He's dead. Good"
Never want to see anyone dead, but there are a few death notices I've read with pleasure
Girlfriend left him a suicide note - she was really pissed when she came home and found he hadn't signed it
Bob Hope dying - when asked where he wanted to be buried he said "Surprise me"

There was a young fellow named Hyde
Who fell down a dunny and died
He had a brother
Who fell down another
And now they're interred side by side

Rich man told his wife "I'm sticking a box of cash in the attic. When I die, I'm going to grab it on my way to heaven. Make sure no-one touches it before I go." After he died his widow looked in the attic, and the box was still there. "Silly old fool," she said "I told him he should have put it in the basement."

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