posts about or somewhat related to ‘death’
Modern Loss is a website that seeks to create a space for figuring out how to navigate your life after death. It includes essays from those who have experienced loss, resources for the practical affairs that must be dealt with after a death, and projects and articles about grief.
The site was started by two women, Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner, who lost parents at an early age and who are clearly opposed to the toxic forced optimism of American culture that can make grief all the more difficult. They promise a websitethat will be free of people adjudicating how sad you’re allowed to feel and a complete ban on the phrase, “everything happens for a reason.”
Linked above is a step-by-step how-to guide on getting relatives who have passed away offline on a variety of social media platforms.
Fascinating background reading about death in the digital era is this 2009 report from Northwestern University’s J-school on the state of the American obituary. It discusses the A-Z of obituaries, death in the age of social media, and the relatively new phenomenon of social networking sited that are turned into memorials.
The most recent piece in The Guardian’s Comment is Free series, A Day’s Work, is a Q&A with Jenn Park-Mustacchio, a funeral director and embalmer in New Jersey. The median income for funeral directors in the US is over $52,000.
It’s a fascinating series of questions about death and the embalming process (how does it work? why enter the profession? are there trade journals? do you ever make mistakes? what are the laws around embalming? which religions don’t embalm? any weird stories?) with very thoughtful, very respectful answers.
Tagline for LivesOn, a new app launching in March, that will algorithmically post your thoughts after you’ve died.
Via the Guardian:
Launching in March is a new Twitter app called LivesOn. The service uses Twitter bots powered by algorithms that analyse your online behaviour and learn how you speak, so it can keep on scouring the internet, favouriting tweets and posting the sort of links you like, creating a personal digital afterlife…
"It divides people on a gut level, before you even get to the philosophical and ethical arguments," says Dave Bedwood, creative partner of Lean Mean Fighting Machine, the London-based ad agency that is developing it.
"It offends some, and delights others. Imagine if people started to see it as a legitimate but small way to live on. Cryogenics costs a fortune; this is free and I’d bet it will work better than a frozen head."
I think when I die I’ll keep my thoughts to myself. — Michael
Behind this link is the Los Angeles Times' front page, which features a graphic photo of recently-deceased U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens. The page drew strong reaction from readers. Should they have run it? →
For what it’s worth: The New York Times’ new public editor, Margaret Sullivan, asked the question Wednesday after the Times ran the photo online. She decided it was worth running, but said this: “I would not want to see a similar photograph on the front page of Thursday’s print edition, where its prominence and permanence would give it a different weight.” The New York Times did not run it on its front page Thursday morning, but other papers did.
For several years now there has been an escalation of printing photos of people either in their final moments or just after death. Is the shock of the moment warranted a place as “newsworthy” or is the shock value likely to turn people further away from print media?
If you can’t find a moment’s privacy in death, what chance do you have on holiday in Provence?
Pictures of people about to die, less final than images of death, capture a particularly powerful moment in the middle of a sequence of action—a child about to keel over from starvation, a woman about to be engulfed by a mudslide, a dirigible about to explode—and freeze it for repeated display and engagement. Focusing on the human anguish of people facing death, they replay this moment in news and beyond without necessarily showing visual evidence that the people in fact died. Viewers thus can and do go in many directions with an image’s interpretation—refuting death, debating its particulars, providing multiple and often erroneous contexts for its understanding.
Pictures of people about to die, less graphic than pictures of corpses and body parts, also play on different parts of a viewer’s psyche. Where images of dead bodies often push viewers away, creating a sense of distance and objectification, images of impending death do the opposite: They often draw viewers in, fostering engagement, creating empathy and subjective involvement, inviting debate.
— Barbie Zelizer, Author, About To Die: How News Images Move the Public, on journalism’s relationship to images of death.