Tag: mortality

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A real anomaly in COVI-19 is that it has not killed small children. Influenza kills lots of small children. “How Vulnerable Are Children to the New Coronavirus?: So far, kids seem to be surprisingly less at-risk to severe infection. But they could play a key role in spreading it, so experts say it’s crucial to […]

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Seasonal Thoughts

 

This time of year seems to bring out joy, wonder, sadness, mourning, inspiration, and anticipation more than any other. I have been reflecting over the recent 12 months as a new year approaches – a time of endings and new beginnings.

Among all the lights, festivities, and holiday preparation, I got a phone call that my cousin passed away. She was almost 16 years older than me, but a part of my growing years. She taught me to twist, was glamorous, my big tall older cousin with the big smile and ready laugh. We kept in touch on occasion – my last email from her after the Las Vegas massacre was “We’re fine – we weren’t near the Strip — you can’t go anywhere and feel safe anymore — it’s awful!!” Her sister tearfully called me, saying she was in the middle of life, groceries still on the counter. This time of year can be tough.

I remember a vivid thought that popped into my head unexpectedly, as I was shocked to read of a former co-worker’s passing in the paper and then started to dwell (too long) on thoughts of mortality…. The thought was “Life is for the living.” It was like God was whispering in my ear. I said it over and over. I was immediately reminded of Solomon – the wisest man who lost and gained everything. He said there was a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time for joy in Ecclesiastes 3. I read its timeless message and prayed for my cousin. I needn’t worry. God holds her in the palm of His hand.

Leave Your Legacy

 

Last month, we lost iconic character actor Harry Dean Stanton. A rangy Kentuckian with a prematurely craggy face, he was a fixture in American cinema for the past half century. His presence drew the viewer into his world-weary eyes, wondering about the depth behind them. All the while, he possessed an innate cool; a Hollywood version of Johnny Cash.

Reading various encomia about his passing, I came across one tidbit I can’t stop thinking about. A few years back, his similarly spooky friend David Lynch posed a question to Stanton: “How would you like to be remembered?”

Stanton’s answer: “It doesn’t matter.”

Vulnerability, or the Time RyanM and VC Saved My Life

 

“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.” ― Madeleine L’Engle

When I was about 4 or 5, I started taking swimming lessons. I’ve always loved swimming and it’s one of the few athletic things I’ve actually been consistently good at, regardless of the rest of my physical health.

Death of the Middle Class – Literally

 

“Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies.”

I was stunned when I read this article and others describing a study that was conducted in 2015 by Anne Case and Angus Deaton, two celebrated economists, and then updated in a study just released. Our middle class is dying.

Death Café: A Growing Movement

 

“We live knowing that everything dies. Like the sun, it’s a fact of life. And like the sun, we tend not to look right at it. Unless you’ve experienced a recent death, it’s probably not something you discuss. But a new movement is trying to change that, with a serving of tea and cake.” – Deena Prichep

This new movement is called Death Café. I was motivated to look into the topic since we have a couple of them in Florida. In Ms. Prichep’s article, she explains the origins of the movement.

The first Death Café was held by Jon Underwood, a British web designer, along with his mother, who is a psychotherapist. “When people sit down to talk about death, the pretense kind of falls away, and people talk very openly and authentically,” Underwood says. “And they say things in front of strangers which are really profound and beautiful. And for English people to do that, with our traditional stiff upper lip, is very rare.”

Obesity, Fatty Foods, Death, and Science

 

shutterstock_513863296Something is killing us — beyond the fact that life itself is a terminal condition. This week brought news that the US mortality rate overall has risen slightly since 2014. “It’s a definite milestone in the wrong direction, and the concern a lot of us have is that it reflects largely the approximately three-decade-long epidemic of obesity,” Stephen Sidney, a California research scientist, told the Wall Street Journal. Death rates rose for eight of the 10 leading causes, including heart disease, stroke, chronic respiratory disease, injuries (including drug overdoses), diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and suicide. Cancer death rates continue to decline, and influenza deaths were unchanged. The uptick in deaths means that life expectancy rates for babies born today have dropped a bit.

For something as multifactorial as overall death rates, a certain modesty is necessary in interpreting the data and/or offering hypotheses. I have my favorite suspicion, and I freely acknowledge that it’s a hunch. A large number of Americans are living alone (27 percent in 2014 compared with 13 percent in 1960) and becoming alienated from community, church, and neighborhood groups (the so-called mediating institutions of society). A 2010 AARP survey found that one third of adults over 45 reported that they were chronically lonely, whereas only 20 percent said the same a decade earlier. Not everyone who lives alone is lonely, and some people who live with others are, but the rise of loneliness is real and has measurable health effects.

As Judith Shulevitz explained in The Atlantic:

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As a law enforcement chaplain who responds to wild land fatalities, one of the services I provide families who, for whatever reason, can’t see the body of their loved one right away, is that I look after the body on their behalf. I am what I sometimes think of as a transitional love object, the best […]

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Deadlines are malleable, flexible. Most people recognize, after a lifetime of “fake” deadlines, that deadlines are really just artificial targets, goals rather than ultimatums. If not outright falsehoods, deadlines are at least “padded”; think of the admonition to “arrive 2 hours before the flight.” These deadlines are a way of forcing people to get their […]

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I’m scheduled for a blood transfusion. Severe anemia. The doctors don’t know the cause yet, although they’ve taken me off my longtime anti-Rheumatoid Arthritis drug Methotrexate, which works by suppressing the immune system. These drugs can be very toxic, with side effects that include liver failure and gastric bleeding ulcers. Fortunately, there’s no sign of […]

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There was an interesting article on the BBC the other day about the fact that the Finnish government provides a “baby box” to every expectant mother in the country. It contains a mattress, diapers, clothing, and various other necessities — and the box itself often serves as crib for the baby during their first year […]

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