More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Friday, February 27, 2009

Tattoos, Death and Using Body Art As A Memorial

Once a rite of passage for drunken sailors and outlaws, in the most recent generation of adults, tattoos have become a growing trend and social statement. Some people do it because they perceive it as being cool; some find it sexy; some find it a conversation piece; some find it an act of rebellion, some find it attractive and more recently it has become a way to honor and memorialize someone who is missed and loved.

This growing use of memorial tattoos is making something of a comeback. Historically, these have been amongst the most popular images of body art. People have always needed a way to grieve, honor and remember lost loved ones and tattoos have provided a very personalized way to memorialize someone. To those who have gotten a memorial tattoo on their body it has provided a deep meaning and ever present connection with the deceased.

Read More here..


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cremation and Archaeology - A Pair at Odds?

Over the last few weeks I have been watching one of my favorite TV programs, The Naked Archaeologist ( ) with Simcha Jacobovici ( ) when I realized that he was looking at grave sites and bones. You see, archaeologists often dig up areas and find buildings, pyramids, mounds that they say were once great cities, but to find bones is a real score. To find a grave site with bones and artifacts and clothes can tell a lot about a person and about a society and its culture.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

United States Navy Mortuary Affairs

Burial at Sea is a means of final disposition of remains that is performed on United States Navy vessels. The committal ceremony is performed while the ship is deployed. Therefore, family members are not allowed to be present. The commanding officer of the ship assigned to perform the ceremony will notify the family of the date, time, and, longitude and latitude once the committal service has been completed.

Eligibility: Individuals eligible for this program are: (1) active duty members of the uniformed services; (2) retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged. (3) U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command; and (4) dependent family members of active duty personnel, retirees, and veterans of the uniformed services.

How to get Started: After the death of the individual for whom the request for Burial at Sea is being made, the Person Authorized to Direct Disposition (PADD) should print out and complete the linked Burial at Sea Request Form. [This is a .PDF file. The software to download and print this file is available at no charge to anyone who wishes a copy.] Supporting documents which must accompany this request are: (1) a photocopy of the death certificate; (2) the burial transit permit or the cremation certificate; and (3) a copy of the DD Form 214, discharge certificate, or retirement order. The Burial at Sea Request Form and the three supporting documents make up the Burial at Sea Request package.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Comparison of Hospice and Hospitals for Terminal Patients

There are numerous differences between hospice and the medical model from hospitals.


In hospice, patient comfort is a top priority. While hospice acknowledges that a patient is terminal, it tries to make the most of the patients’ last days. Caretakers want the patient to be comfortable. Narcotics and opioid medication can be given in large doses for comfort. Often the patient has a PCP, a Personal Care Pump in which narcotics are self administered to reduce pain. Morphine and Demerol, strong Class II narcotics are used for pain palliation. Cure is not expected. Comfort is offered. Social workers, counselors, and nurses are available to the family to help the patient make final days dignified and bearable.

When a family takes care of a terminal patient, they usually understand that no life saving measures will be offered once a patient enters hospice. If the heart stops beating or if respirations cease, a code will not be called, and the patient will expire. The nurses are assistant coroners and will pronounce the patient dead. Pastoral care can be offered, and hospice staff helps the family make final arrangements. Relationships are made prior to the death, and the hospice staff helps the patient and family with final good byes. Most hospice workers offer compassion, information, and empathy. Patient comfort is a top priority, and family is encouraged to visit.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories About Death, Dying, and Afterlife Book Review

More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories About Death, Dying, and Afterlife
Author: Yvonne Perry
ISBN: 0-9753870-6-5
Price $13.99 US
Publisher: Booksurge (2005)
Pages: 166 pgs.
Genre: Spirituality/Metaphysics
Reviewer: Andrea Mai (a student in WITS newbie mentoring class)

When I first got the book, I was under the impression that More Than Meets the Eye by author Yvonne Perry was going to be primarily about near-death experiences (NDE) and the spiritual aspects involved with such an experience. While there are certainly chapters devoted to the NDE, I am happy to report the book is about so much more than that. It was an intriguing combination of analysis, personal experience, collected and collective stories. Perry graduated from the American Institute of Holistic Theology with a degree in Metaphysics which allowed her a solid background to explore the subject. This book is filled with well-researched details about everything you might want to know about death, dying, and afterlife.

One of the chapters I especially enjoyed was called Souls and Ceremonies. It was filled with information about burial, embalming, and cremation with historical and modern citations about laws surrounding each of these processes. I’ve often thought a funeral pyre would be a great way to say goodbye if our society could handle it. Instead, I’ll probably just be cremated behind closed doors and handed over to my loved ones in a tidy little urn. My grandmother always wanted to be buried in a plain pine box but apparently, in Minnesota, there are laws for how well the box must be constructed. After reading this chapter, I want to find out more for her.

I was intrigued by the chapters discussing the afterlife and NDEs. The author, Yvonne Perry, grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church and that’s where she spent her time until she was forty years old. Then she began to explore other spiritualities. I found it interesting because my history is almost the opposite of hers. I spent years studying Taoism, Buddhism, and Paganism then spent time in Christianity, then left for more Buddhism and have returned fully to a liberal Christianity but not in order to follow by rote what others tell me to believe. I believe in the Christ. I also believe whole-heartedly in reincarnation. As a student of Christian theology, my beliefs about God are wider than the little box many to which many ascribe for the Divine, starting with my Christian brothers and sisters. And, Perry does a fine job of exploring the afterlife from both her own understanding of metaphysics and religion as well as the understanding within different spiritual/faith communities.

The only real problem I had with the book was the personal stories that were in italics. Some only had a brief mention of the storyteller which made it hard to keep up with who was telling the story. This was primarily an issue of how it was formatted for these sequences. The stories were good, just a little vague about who was telling them. Of course, I read quickly with a tendency to skim until something jumps out at me. So, it may be my own method of reading that triggered the problem.

With chapters on Hospice care, suicide, euthanasia as well as ceremonies, near-death and out of body experiences this 166-page book lives up to its title. I think the book works because Perry takes a thoughtful approach to these subjects, neither forcing her views onto the reader but also not shying away from subjects that many readers might not know about or understand. I had never heard of walk-in souls as she described in Chapter Seven: I Don’t Like it Here (Dealing With Suicide). It was a completely new idea to me and one I’ll read more about.

The book didn’t have time to get dull with the very approachable blend of statistics, facts, other people’s stories and Perry’s own story. It was a quick-read but one you can go back to again and again to go a little deeper. There were some helpful items found at the end of the book. A copy of a Living Will and Warning Signs of Suicide were included as well as a Bibliography listing her many resources.

Overall, I would recommend this book to any person who is either curious or struggling with any of these issues. It was enjoyable, thought-provoking, and I know I will return to it when I meditate on these topics.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Highest Tribute To The Dead - Not Grief, But Gratitude

Helping elders and their families feel vital and empowered is a movement, a call to action, an awakening to positive change. And so when Natalie Tucker Miller, founder of Ageless-Sages picture books for Elders™, speaks we all listen.

As I sit with my friend Lilah, weeks after her stroke, she indicates that her heart is telling her it’s time to move on. It’s easy to feel gratitude for my beautiful elder friend, yet waves of grief are present as well.

Saying good-bye to friends is just part of the package of befriending elders. The honor of being in the presence of people who have embraced the next leg of their journey is a gift I receive over and over and only hope I can adequately pay forward!

Read More Here..


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Thoughts Before Writing A Eulogy

To say that the death of a loved one is a difficult time is an understatement. Every person is a unique individual and the ways in which we react to the passing of someone about whom we care are just as unique.

Though death is inevitable, very often, we’re not prepared to lose a loved one—no matter what the circumstances. Our minds and our bodies go through changes during the process of grieving. The amount of stress—especially on those closest to the deceased—is often overwhelming.

And, yet, the death of a friend or family member is one of the times when we are called upon to be our strongest and are faced with decisions and situations that may seem beyond our understanding or control.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Grieving the Loss of a Loved One

My brother-in-law died suddenly when he fell from a ladder in 2007. We drove to Maryland where we celebrated Don's life and visited with my husband's family. Don was cremated so there was no physical body for anyone to ogle. Don was an avid fisherman and loved to be near the water. It only seemed appropriate that his celebration was held at the beach house of some dear friends who live on the eastern shore. Each person who wanted to speak was given a turn to share a story about Don. Afterward, Jimmy Buffet music played and margaritas flowed as some cried, others laughed at the memories they shared. I think I cried enough for everyone there; not because Don was gone, but because of the love everyone was expressing so easily.

Don really isn't gone. His presence was sweet and strong all day. Many felt him near and told how he has appeared to them since his passing. Some members of the family called a dear psychic friend of mine, Reverend Cherise Thorne who had offered to connect with Don's spirit and give a message from the Other Side ( Cherise's message was so comforting that the family was hardly showing any emotional disturbance. This was perplexing to me so I asked a few of them how they were able to be so strong. Their reply was consistent, "Because Don is here. He is not gone!" I believe that. When a wreath of flowers was tossed into the water, it turned around and headed right back into the bay near the house. It stayed there all afternoon in spite of the wind blowing in every direction. This, to me, is an indication that Don really wasn't ready to leave us and that he's planning to hang around for a while longer.

Cherise also told my sister-in-law, Tammy, that she saw animals in the spirit when she was connecting with Don. She described a beloved pet that had passed and then she mentioned a rabbit near a bench in the garden. The family had a flower garden with a bench where Don and my sister-in-law often shared a sandwich or a glass of iced tea. They had never had a rabbit so the information was puzzling at the time. However, a few days later my sister-in-law was looking out the window when she saw a rabbit standing on its hind legs staring right back at her. After a moment, the rabbit hopped up onto the bench and sat there again facing the house and looking in the window. Tammy knew it was Don trying to communicate with her.

Samhain (some call it Halloween) is the time of year that we honor those who have gone before us. It is believed that the veil between the physical 3-D world and the spirit world is thinnest then. A lot of people report seeing or having visitations from their deceased loved ones in the fall season. In my book, More Than Meets the Eye, many people told me stories about seeing a bird or an animal come up and stare right at them. "Don't you recognize me?" the little guy seems to ask. They just knew it was their loved one. And, why not? Small animals and birds have energies that are easy for newly passed spirits to manipulate. Not every soul that departs from the body crosses over immediately. Especially if there is unfinished business with loved ones left behind or if the death was sudden and unexpected as in Don's case. Sometimes a loved one will become a spirit guide for a family member they cherish. Three weeks later Tammy is still aware of Don's presence with her.

The time we spent with my husband's family was beautiful and rich with memories. I didn't know a lot of the people since I am rather a new-comer to the family, but there was so much love shared I felt like I had been part of the family forever. After all, we are one. And, we are blessed!

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