All Articles Tagged "death"
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.
He’s struggling. It’s evident by his Facebook posts. Sometimes the sadness oozes from the page like tar. Heavy, black and thick. In those moments you’re overcome with sadness too because losing a mother is that thing that we all know is going to happen, but we choose not to think about. Or we simply deny. Lose my mother? Nah, she will live forever. But the truth is, she won’t. She’ll go one day and the pain will hit you completely off guard.
How will you survive?
Well, first you have to be able to talk about it. And not just when it happens to you, like now, when it happens to someone else. One of your best friends lost her mom about a year ago and you can’t remember the last time you asked, “How are you dealing with it?” It’s not that you haven’t wondered. Your fear is that it may upset her or worse yet, that she’s still having a hard time with it.
You remember being on the phone with her not long after she found out. The way she cried reminded you of the utter helplessness you felt when your grandmother passed. It was the kinda pain that made your whole body ache. You never want to be reminded. So you don’t ask. And hope that she doesn’t notice that it is you who can’t take it.
But it doesn’t make you a very good friend, and it keeps you clueless as to what to expect or how to handle it one day when it does happen to you. So what now? Start talking. Better yet, asking.
Since you value a good professional opinion, and this psychologist happens to be the mom of a good friend, you ring up Dr. Jane Fort to see if she has any advice on how to survive the loss of your mother.
She starts off by saying that parental death is unlike any other, and unfortunately, this society doesn’t give much guidance in terms of grieving.
“It’s important to know that this is a long journey. If you’re waking up every day and getting dressed, you’re doing well.” She says, “You want to give yourself two years to grieve. Knowing that can help someone know that they’re not doing so bad if they still feel horrible after the first year.”
She also advises that a person respectfully say ‘no’ to things they don’t want to do. “It’s okay to let the phone ring, and just sit. Some nurturing no one can do for you.”
Utilizing support groups such as the ones that hospice extends to families can also be helpful in that you don’t have to feel so alone.
It’s interesting because opening that door made you want to ask your own mom how she’s doing. Your grandmother died around 2002 and while you made every effort to comfort her the best you could that first year, after that, you stopped talking about it.
She seemed okay. Right?
“It still feels the same,” says your mom, a little surprised that you’re asking. “I mean it gets better in that you can deal with it. But you never get over it. She was my best friend.”
You start thinking about your friend and his Facebook posts. How long has it been? Does anyone still ask how he’s doing?
“It’s like waking up in the morning and getting out of bed to do something that you always do, and then hitting the floor because you don’t have any legs,” he says of the pain he still feels one year later.
You wanna tell him that it supposedly takes at least two years, and he’s probably doing better than he thinks. Never mind, just listen…
“She died a few days before my birthday and then after that it was Mother’s Day. So when this time of year comes around it’s hard. The worst part is when I see a dude and his mom laughing. I wondered if I was being a ‘b*tch baby,’ because I’m still taking it so hard, but a guy who lost his mom told me you never get over it.”
“Does it help when people ask?”
“It means a lot when someone asks because it could open a door…but when it happens I just say it’s getting better…if there’s a follow up question…I give more.”
You had no idea.
Ultimately, what you learned is that surviving the loss of a mother has a lot to do with managing your expectations. You will never get over it, but one day you will be able to deal with it. Knowing that is better than nothing.
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.
The mayor of the District of Columbia says he’s outraged that city firefighters didn’t come to the aid of a man who collapsed across the street from a fire station.
Relatives of Medric Mills say he went into cardiac arrest on Saturday afternoon in a shopping center parking lot and later died. They say several people went across the street to the station, but no firefighters or emergency medical workers walked over to help.
Mayor Vincent Gray said Wednesday that he has spoken to the daughter of Mills, who was a longtime city employee.
Read more on this incident at BlackVoices.com
Whether young, old, rich or poor, the only thing promised to us on this Earth is death. Although transitioning to the other side is one of life’s inevitables, that doesn’t stop the hurt we feel when we lose a loved one. Everyone deals with death in their own way. Some people choose to deny the reality and live their day-to-day lives like nothing’s changed (which is probably the unhealthiest way to cope with it), some mourn and move on, while others shut down completely and bury themselves in isolation. But no matter who you are and how you handle tough situations, it is vital that you find ways to manage the aches and pain so that they don’t consume you. As someone who has recently experienced two unexpected deaths that have caused me quite a bit of emotional distress, here’s a look at some of the ways I found solace in dealing with the sorrow.
It is a natural instinct to cry once you learn someone you care about will no longer be around. Don’t try to hold back the tears in an attempt to be tough and strong—it will only hurt you in the long run. Let it out! Cry. Bawl. Sob. Hell, scream if you need to! One thing’s for sure, those salty streams are a big release and definitely aid in lifting some of that weight off your heart.
Whether it’s Allah, Jesus, Mary, Jah or Buddha—or whoever it is you lift your hands to—tap into your relationship with God/higher power for strength and healing. Pray for understanding to accept his/her will and for the might to make it through the trenches. Faith is key and it can pull you a mighty long way.
Hit the gym and run a few miles on the treadmill. Invest in some Zumba or any other dance-based class. Take to your local basketball court for some alone time to shoot hoops or stay at home and twerk it out to some videos on YouTube. It doesn’t matter how you choose to pump up that heart rate, just as long as you get moving! Exercising releases endorphins or what I like to call “happy juice.” These morphine-like chemicals naturally numb feelings of pain or depression and help shift you to a lighter mood. Oftentimes, they’re the go-to place to relieve stress and aggression. Give it a try, it works!
Don’t Isolate Yourself for Too Long, Have Fun
When you first hear word of a death, wanting to be alone is something that comes natural to a lot of us. You don’t want to hang out with friends, you don’t want to be bothered with family, all you want to do is sit around the house and sulk. While this is both understandable and expected, try not to let it keep you down for too long. (I know in some cases, it’s easier said than done.) Take a couple days, or even a few weeks to get yourself together, but don’t let yourself sink into a deep funk. You’ll find that talking to those close to you can improve your mood (we all have that somebody we can depend on to comfort us when we’re in need and those other ones who’ll act a fool just to see a smile on our faces).
Go to the club, shop at the mall, read, write, dance, play your favorite sport, travel, socialize—the point is: Go out and do the things you enjoyed before the news of death came knocking at your door. Getting back into your old groove and partaking in activities you love can be extremely therapeutic.
Think About the Good Times
When things get tough, remember all the laughs you’ve shared with your loved one and all the hilarious, outrageous moments you experienced together. If it makes you feel better, don’t be scared to reminiscence with the person you lost. Whether you believe they can hear you or not, expressing your emotions and directing your thoughts to your new angel can help alleviate any negative feelings that you are harboring. It may help knowing that while they are no longer with you in the flesh, they are with you in spirit and you can still connect with them as they will forever hold a place in your heart.