All Articles Tagged "death"
I’ve been very open with my recent struggles with accepting my mortality. For a long time, it was never even a second thought to me. As I grew up, in my traditionally Christian home, we were taught that it’s not “goodbye,” but “’til we meet again.” With that knowledge, and the advantage of youth, I didn’t think about my own inevitability.
But the first moment of being aware of my own mortality happened in college when a few people I was close to in high school died. But, though I felt that emotional trauma, youth allowed me to separate my mourning from my own vulnerability, and after a while, things went back to normal.
Then, the last four years happened and people who seemed so happy and healthy began to wither away, sometimes right in front of me. Some of them were older, some were younger, some were my age and that’s when I knew that this was a fate I couldn’t escape.
All the years of thinking: “’til we meet again,” were gone, and were replaced with “what happens afterward?”
It was hard trying to know that someone in the past, who felt like the world revolved around them, was now being relegated to past tense verbs, and aging anecdotes. Then I began to question the idea of how death, though sad, should be the joyous occasion that I was raised to believe it was. If that were the case, then why were so many people crying? If we knew we would see them again, why be sad anyway? If the promise of a new life allowed us peace, why were our self-preservation instincts so strong?
My head was beginning to feel heavy with all my morbid thoughts and instead of cherishing each day, I began to worry when and how my “time” would come.
But recently, a memory of one of my loved ones’ last words has been able to cease my fears, if only momentarily.
She’d struggle for so long, and was in a hospital at a different state. This surrogate family member had been so strong, but we knew that the inevitable was happening. When I got the phone call that she passed, through tears, I was told that she actually passed twice. The first time, for a few moments after being taken off of a ventilator. But when she came back, she turned to her family and said: “I’m not afraid of dying anymore.” A few moments later, she finally passed.
I didn’t think about what she said for a very long time. I focused on being there for my surrogate family and trying to be as much of a comfort as I could.
But nights later, I found myself thinking about the inevitable. I’ve been thinking about those final words. I don’t know what she saw but it was enough to give this person peace before passing. And if it was enough to cease her anxiety, then it should be enough to cease mine.
Those words have been able to encourage me to not dwell on the possible but to enjoy the present. I no longer have that dread of “what/when,” but now feel peaceful.
I’m not going to lie, there are moments when my past thoughts begin to arise, but during those times, I remember those words, and I’m able to finally find peace, regardless of my understanding.
In the book “On Death and Dying,” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined what is generally accepted as the five stages of grief. They make perfect sense theoretically and sequentially: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Whether it is how we are biologically wired or classically conditioned, this is a process that we all go through when we lose someone we love.
After three and a half years, I finally visited the grave of my daughter’s mother. While talking with a friend, I began to have clarity about the relationship with my daughter’s mother and the others that have followed. I went through the five stages; but in a different order than Ross outlined in 1969. To some extent, that made all my other relationships very complicated.
Daddy Speaks: My Experience With the Five Stages of Grief
Earlier this week, the hearts of music lovers worldwide were broken. The legendary, B.B King passed away at the age of 89. Now, Coroner John Fudenberg has revealed King’s cause of death. AP reports,
B.B. King’s physician and the coroner in Las Vegas say the 89-year-old blues legend died of a series of small strokes attributable to his longstanding battle with type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Darin Brimhall and Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg (FYOU’-den-berg) tell The Associated Press the medical term for the cause of death is multi-infarct dementia.
It’s sometimes referred to as MID, and is also called vascular dementia.
Dementia is a permanent loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases, including diabetes. It usually affects adults over age 55, and can affect memory, thinking, language and judgment.
Brimhall says King’s strokes resulted from reduced blood flow as a consequence of chronic diabetes — or unhealthy fluctuations in blood sugar levels.
King was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes several years ago.
This is going to sound weird but for some reason I really love those Colonial Penn-type life insurance commercials that feature parents talking to their kids about insurance policies and death and end-of-life wishes because they’re so real. I especially like the one with the Black girl who has the curly TWA and keeps telling her mom, “I don’t want to talk about this” as she tries to explain her plans for making sure her death isn’t a burden on the family when the time comes. Eventually, there’s a breakthrough and the daughter realizes the conversation is just precautionary planing rather than foreshadowing and I always think, if only more mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, husbands, and wives would have these talks.
This past weekend I found myself in the unfortunate situation of watching my grandfather and my dad and his three brothers attempt to decide the fate of my grandmother’s life. The Saturday before last she collapsed and went into cardiac arrest and, due to a lack of oxygen, now has very little brain activity outside of basic reflexes to pain stimuli and gagging on a ventilator. By the time I got in town, seven days had passed and her status hadn’t changed, which wasn’t necessarily good or bad. But be that as it may, it was time to make a decision. And though everyone had an opinion on what they would want for themselves and what they thought my grandmother would want, no one really knew because no one ever asked or had a conversation.
“She talked about wanting to go home” was all my grandmother’s brother had to offer in terms of last wishes and we all knew that meant she wanted to be buried back down south. That really didn’t answer the question that was trying to be decided in the moment which was, do we do everything we can to prolong her life — despite the dismal prognosis and the expectation of an even lower quality of life — or do we usher her on to rest in peace?
We had the medical opinion which told us that the likelihood of recovery after three days in a coma was slim, but that was juxtaposed with guilt over the fact that my grandmother was in this position to begin with and mounting grief over the thought that the last time each of us had with her pre-ICU would in fact be our last time together. And so, opinions continued to sway back and forth for days.
“Guess we’ll just have to wait and see” was the decision my grandfather announced when the doctor hesitantly told us it was possible — though not likely — my grandmother could wake up one day. And so the doctors moved forward with a tracheostomy to remove the ventilator that’s breathing for her and inserted a feeding tube to give her nutrients while my dad and I toured long-term acute care facilities for her to reside in after her procedure for the next three weeks to a month. Though the plan we’re currently operating under is at least some form of action, it likely doesn’t change the fact that a month from now we’ll all probably be in the same place: Deciding life or death for someone who should’ve decided for herself.
When I came back to my mom’s house and updated her on what’s going on, she told me in no uncertain terms she wouldn’t want to be in that condition, which gave me the answer that I need if, God forbid, I find myself in this same position with her. Hypocrite that I am, I didn’t share my wishes, mostly because despite all that I’ve witnessed I’m not totally certain what they are. At my age, I think I’d want my family to fight for me. But if my quality of life — namely my independence — would be strongly diminished, I’d lean more toward letting me go. Of course, all of these things are easier said than done but they are certainly worth some thought at any age or stage of life and, most importantly, absolutely worth sharing with those who will be faced with seeing to your care should the time come.
Did you know that at one point these stars’ lives hung in the balance? From Martin Lawrence to Charlize Theron, these are the celebrities who made miraculous recoveries despite being near death.
Did you know when we lost these stars? These celebrity deaths flew so far under the radar that we didn’t know some of the were gone!
With technology constantly evolving, Facebook has announced you can still keep your online persona after you die, reports USA Today. Even better, before you pass away you can declare who will become your Facebook heir. Your heir will be your Facebook estate executor and manage your account after you die. Users can decide who will be their heir or “legacy contact.” That particular person will be able to respond to new friend requests, update your cover photos and profile. They can also archive your Facebook posts and photos.
If you are not interested a Facebook heir, Facebook can also memorialize your account. It can only be viewed but not edited or managed; Facebook’s product manager Vanessa Callison-Burch also said: “We heard from family members who wanted to post funeral information or download and preserve photos. We realized there was more we could do.”
Since an increase of social media accounts, few states have created laws that give authority over digital assets. Virginia decreed in 2013 for parents or guardians to take control of their child’s online accounts after the child becomes deceased. In January, a Zogby poll examined adults who were concerned about what will happen to their social media pages after they die. The poll uncovered, 71 percent of 1,012 adults who wanted their online communications to remain private, unless they gave consent prior to their death. 43 percent of that same polled group desired their online accounts to be deleted, unless they not someone can access it until after they are dead.
In order to set up your Legacy contact, go to your profile icon and click on “Settings.” Then choose “security” and click on the “Legacy Contact” option at the bottom of the page. To see how Facebook’s feature works, I choose my cousin and if I die she will be able to download what I have shared on Facebook (which includes statuses, photos, videos and about section info). Since I’m an active Facebook user, that would be a lot of information. However, she would not be able to download my private messages.
Personally, I think once I am no longer here I would want my profile to be deleted. I watched the “Be Right Back” episode of the British series Black Mirrors where a woman used a company that “brought” her dead partner back from the dead via phone calls and even eventually mailed her a clone-like replica of him. What intrigued me about the episode was, her partner only responding to her with the phrases he used online. Although she received a chance to still be connected to the love of her life, things were different.
Would you want your social media page to be active after you die? Chime in the conversation and check out the Black Mirror’s episode below.
First things first: Prayers to the Brown and Houston family. As a parent, this is unimaginable pain. Hopefully it is God’s will that she survives this.
Like most, I was momentarily in disbelief when I heard that Bobbi Kristina Brown, the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, was being kept alive by life support. I thought to myself, “How did this happen?” We can run through the “what if” scenarios all day.
I am not the one to judge the Houston Family or Bobby Brown’s, but I just feel that collectively we have to think differently about how we raise children into adulthood. Bobbi Kristina was 18 when her mother died tragically. She is 21 today. By most people’s accounts she was an adult, but I disagree.
A young adult that is faced with perilous or extraordinary circumstances must be coddled and mentored extensively, in my opinion. Shoot, some regular kids need this under normal circumstances. This is not the American way any more. First of all, African American families are under duress more and more just to survive. So, we often have adults trying trying to get by and the kids are often left to fend for themselves. Imagine having an inheritance of $15 million and still longing for familial and psychological support.
This is a prime example of how we are failing our children.
Bobbi Kristina and those like her are microcosms – real world examples – that it takes a village to raise a child. With the turbulence surrounding Bobby and Whitney, I’m not certain of how Bobbi was raised or looked after in her earliest days. When Whitney was alive, they seemed vibrant and happy together. How she was reared (as an adult) after Whitney was found lifeless in a bathtub? Who was checking on her in the aftermath of that personal catastrophe? Who was protecting her during the period her parents were going through their tumultuous, public relationship? We do know she needed some good solid love and care.
When my family lost my dad, it was a god-awful situation for the family and we were never the same. I’m not chastising anybody, but there were times when nobody was there. I remember like yesterday, I told a good friend, “I miss my dad” and she continued to talk like she didn’t hear it (maybe she didn’t – I never asked). My brother was a boy when my dad passed and I am certain the both of us should have had some sort of counseling or mentorship. But we didn’t have much of that. It was different when I went through my divorce, which was hard on my daughter. I have to thank my close friends that looked out for my kid (Shout out to the Brown and Fisher Families), because I believe their intervention and love made all the difference. In hindsight, we had minor life issues compared to Bobbi Kristina, but when those matters happened, everybody looks around for blame.
For Bobbi Kristina, the Angela Bassett-produced TV movie “Whitney” has come under fire. This one movie didn’t do this. Certainly, if we want to place blame, then we have to look at how we approach celebrity. The public is fixated on celebrity until their lives, and possible deaths, resemble pigs in a feeding frenzy at the trough. People watched Whitney melt down and it was a raving obsession to see every detail of her life. Some publications even ridiculed her death and the surrounding details.
Bobbi Kristina was also fodder for blogs to eat up and poop out.
As a person in media, I have always pushed to approach celebrities with compassion, especially when those people are of my culture. We have often covered for them when we could have posted extremely unflattering, potentially damaging videos or stories. We must realize these are living breathing feeling human beings with children and families – not just headline subjects. I also know that most people slow down for a car crash. I realize that folks will watch a good ol’ fashioned street fight. The game is the game, unfortunately.
It is my hope that Bobbi Kristina Brown serve as a reminder to be compassionate, loving and more mindful of how we treat celebs, their issues and their families. We are steadily dehumanizing people as a steady rate. It can be Bobbi Kristina or Bobby Shmurda (I already know most people could give a damn about him) – they may not be physically our child…and yet they are.
Just give it some time to hit a bit closer to home.
Yesterday there was an unpleasant surprise in my Facebook feed. As I scrolled past goofy videos and nonsensical opinions on Ray Rice, I came across a photo collage of a girl I was friends with in college along with the words “I am numb,” which caught my attention. I clicked “read more” and unfortunately found out my old friend had passed away suddenly. Shocked, I began scrambling through the messages on her Facebook wall trying to figure out what had happened. Aneurysm. In a matter of hours, messages asking for prayers had turned to R.I.P. statuses filled with disbelief that a woman loved by so many was gone.
Immediately, my mind went back to my most vivid memory of the funny girl from Columbus who I’d had one too many reckless nights with during our freshman year of college. I remembered how she’d encouraged me at one of my low points and I knew when I got home I had to read the journal entry that refreshed my love for her and uplifted my soul that May day in 2004. I wrote about confiding in my friend after I’d been turned down for a scholarship and a peer leader position at my university all in the same day and was feeling rather inadequate as she assured me:
“Don’t let that discourage you. When you make it big, nobody can tell you anything.”
I retorted, asking, “am I really gonna make it?” and she told me without hesitation:
“You are smart as sh*t and lately I’ve been thinking about the idea of a virtuous woman and trying to recognize that and you are one of those women. You really are an inspiration to me.”
As I read those words I instantly burst into tears I didn’t feel compelled to shed earlier. I saw us sitting in the caf at 19 envisioning how our lives would turn out 10 years later, feeling torn that her prediction for my life had come true and guilty that her life was cut short before she’d gotten to see so many milestones. My mind raced thinking, “what about her babies?” as I thought about her three children and the questions they must be asking her husband. And in the same breath, I thought about the fact that I’m just one woman, single, child-less, and her loss is so much greater than mine would be at this point in life.
As I thought about that, I reflected on the fact that I’ve always reacted very strongly to the passing of people around me — even if I only knew them from a distance. In high school, a boy I’d had maybe one conversation with was gunned down and I sobbed so hard in class I was sent to the counselor’s office. Last year, a guy who used to date a friend of mine passed away from Sickle Cell Disease and I was inconsolable when I heard the news. Later, when I’d told his best friend how emotional I was he confusingly asked “why?” Today, I realize the reason is their deaths makes me feel guilty for being alive. I think about the fact that they were parents, they had people depending on them, they still had things to accomplish. And though I’m certainly not ready to pass from this life, I feel the urge to ask not just “why them?” but “why not me?”
I also feel a pressure to make every minute count. How dare I sit around idly passing the time when there are others who weren’t given the chance to have just one more day to do something great? It’s that weight that fuels my misplaced guilt and makes me feel as though I haven’t done enough and I need to do so much more. But how can I ever fill the shoes of all the peers who’ve passed before me? It’s an impossible task I need to relieve myself of, but when I think about all the things I was taught growing up in church, I remember that reflections like this are what I’ve been taught deaths are for: To remind those who are living to live and know that if they are still blessed to breathe, they still have a purpose to fulfill. Hopefully my mission will end up being accomplished.
To donate to the Ashley Marie Mitchell Memorial Fund, click here.
The saying goes “But by the grace of God go we” and luckily these celebs who cheated death had a little more than luck on their side after surviving a near-death experience.
Tracy Morgan started his career in stand up and after the long-running sitcom “30 Rock,” went off of the air, Morgan returned to his roots. Several months ago, the “SNL” alum was returning from an engagement at a casino in Delaware when a trucker driving a Walmart tractor-trailer plowed into the limousine bus Morgan was riding in. Morgan’s friend and longtime collaborator James McNair was killed in the crash while Morgan was in critical condition. He was rushed to the hospital suffering from a broken leg and femur, broken nose, and several broken ribs. Two months after the crash, Morgan is still struggling to recover from his injuries and plans to sue Walmart.