You’re hanging out in your local churchyard cemetery (as one does) and you stumble upon a strange headstone.
Michael Murricane, died 1977, “in a road accident on the morning of his intended wedding in this church.”
At first, this sounds like the most urban legend-y crap ever. File alongside: summer camp murderer who lives in the woods and has knives for hands.
But as one Reddit user discovered, the story is totally true. Michael and his betrothed, Sally, had their the wedding set for the morning of May 28th. “Tragically Michael was killed in a car crash early on the morning of their wedding and he was later buried in Dewsall Church where they had been due to be married.”
This is where it gets even more interesting. Buried next to Michael in the churchyard is none other than his fiancée, Sally, who died in 2011. Her headstone says “Betrothed to Michael Murricane,” even though she died 34 years after Michael.
From her obituary we learn that Sally, devastated by Michael’s death, moved from Canada to London and became the technical director of the Royal Opera House. She spent her later years traveling all over the world, trekking the Himalayas and the Andes, and, while sailing around Antarctica, survived a 98-foot rogue wave that knocked out the ship’s navigation equipment.
She was buried, “as she had always wished, in a grave beside Michael in the church down the road from the house she had always loved so much.”
I’ve been trolling the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s open collections for a few weeks now. Yes, I’m forced to do ALL THE TROLLING myself until I have engineered death elves to do this work for me. The Met is a goldmine of new art, culture, etc., to share with the Order.
As Duane Michals’ “Death Comes to the Old Lady” is a photo series, not a single photo/artwork, I wanted to share it here. Michals is an American photographer, and this series was shot in 1969. It is in the Met’s collection, but not currently on display. It WILL be on display when the Met is like, “Caitlin, would you like to curate a death retrospective?” And I’ll be like, “Well, I’m not really qualified BUT I have been trolling your collection online and I know a lot about death so yeah sign me up, guys!”
Hey, you guys know the Dalai Lama, right? You’re fans, even? His Holiness? Nobel Peace Prize winner? Beacon of human rights and Tibetan Buddhism the world over?
I suspect you would probably trust His Holiness in matters of how to chill the hell out and be a good person. Well surprise, surprise. From the Dalai Lama himself we have word that such a journey involves daily meditation and thoughts about your own death.
His Holiness has called meditation on death and the impermanence of life an “eye-opener” and the practice best suited to “help you face whatever hardships may come your way.” It is also a way to fight off delusions and stimulate you to action. “Awareness of death is essential at every stage of your spiritual life.”
My favorite passage is from The Joy of Living and Dying in Peace where the Dalai Lama (Mr. Lama?) talks about the bad things that happen to humans who forget to think on death:
When you forget death, there is very little chance of your being inclined toward practice. Without awareness of death, your practice will become slack and ineffective. You will be predominantly occupied with the affairs of this life. There are people who receive vows and recite their prayers daily. But because their awareness of death is weak, they behave like ordinary people in times of crisis, becoming excessively angry, attached, or jealous.
There is a saying in Tibetan: “When you are well fed and enjoying the sunshine, you look like a practitioner. But when faced with a crisis you reveal your true nature.” Everyday experience tells us that most of us are like this.
Without awareness of death, you have the affairs of this life at the center of your heart. And because you are obsessed with wealth, status, and fame, you barely flinch when committing negative actions.
If you forget that you will die, you will think mainly about how to lead a prosperous life. Your most important concern will be to get a good place to stay, good clothes to wear, and good food to eat. You will not hesitate to deceive and threaten others if you get the chance. What is more, you might judge such negative activities as the marks of an efficient and capable person. This is a clear indication that you are not farsighted enough to think about the long future ahead.
Now get out there and contemplate your inevitable mortality.
Thanks to this site for sourcing the book online.
Well my gracious word, I plum forgot to upload the latest Ask a Mortician onto the blog. If a tree falls on the internet and no one hears it, is the tree real? That’s the saying, right? Something like that.
This is a video I made in response to this rant posted by a funeral director on Reddit, accusing the industry of being one large pyramid scheme designed to scam grieving families.
Chanel Reynolds, the amazing widow activist from Get Your Shit Together suggested that the two of us do a panel together at SXSW 2014 about what we call the “Death Space.” The Death Space is the strange world of death that has cropped up on the Internet, especially in the last few years, where people live (and die) online.
Chanel has a great sense of humor, and I think the two of us would have quite a time putting this together.
The thing is, all potential panels that present at SXSW are selected partially through public vote. Soooooo…
STEP 1: Sign up here https://auth.sxsw.com/users/sign_up
SXSW will send you a confirmation email. Click on the link in the email to confirm your account.
STEP 2: Go to this page http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/20420
Hit the thumbs up sign in the top left corner corner. It should turn green.
Yes, you’re right, this seems like a lot of steps, but it’s SXSW so they’re all like “innovation” and “technology” and “digital” and “HELLA STEPS.”