Category : Death / Burial / Funerals

Heartrending story from the local paper–After his son is fatally shot and he’s wounded, Mount Pleasant pastor finds hope

Sophia Grace talks about him every day. Daddy wasn’t great at braiding her hair, she recently said to her mother, but he tried his best. She tells people he’s in heaven now.

The rest of the family talks about Bryan Cooke all the time, too.

On his cellphone, Mike Cooke found a voicemail his son had left him in October. He didn’t listen to it before his son’s death, and he still hasn’t. The message — to hear his son call him “Pops” again — is a gift he anticipates opening.

Lynda Cooke also saved a voicemail from her son. She plays it over and over, memorizing his laughter. She prefers to hear his voice when she can slip out alone to the dock behind their home.

The Matipan Avenue residence the Cookes were working on is now home to Alecia Wright, 47, who lives with her sister and disabled mother. Their lives are peaceful, but they feel for the Cooke family.

With the shooting in mind, Wright hung a sign with a cross on the front door that reads: “Bless our home and all who enter.”

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(WSJ) Barbara Bush Remembered as Tough, Loving Matriarch

Before more than 1,000 people, including four former presidents, at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, speakers lauded Mrs. Bush as a loving but steel-tough “enforcer” who steered a powerful family through trying times. She was the second woman in U.S. history to be the wife of one president and the mother of another.

“She called her style a benevolent dictatorship, but honestly, it wasn’t always benevolent,” her son Jeb Bush recalled. “There were no safe spaces or microaggressions allowed with Barbara Pierce Bush.”

Many also made note of her quick, sometimes biting, wit—a central characteristic that helped her resonate with everyday people across the political spectrum.

“She was the first lady of the greatest generation,” historian Jon Meacham said at the funeral, comparing her to Abigail Adams, the wife of America’s second president, John Adams, and mother of its sixth president, John Quincy Adams. Mr. Meacham wrote a book about President George H.W. Bush, to whom Mrs. Bush was married for 73 years.

Mrs. Bush died Tuesday at her home at age 92 with her husband at her side. Two days earlier, a family spokesman said in a statement that she was in failing health and had declined continued medical treatment to focus on “comfort care.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Marriage & Family, Office of the President

(NPR) April Is A Cruel Month For This Columbine Teacher And Survivor

April 20 is the anniversary of the Columbine massacre. That day in 1999, two Littleton, Colo., high school students killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.

Reed was a teacher at Columbine High School school that day, and still is today. This week, she spoke to NPR from the same classroom she was teaching in before everything happened.

On April 20, 1999, she evacuated with her students as the fire alarm went off, a “Pavlovian” response, she says, to what they thought was a drill or a student playing a prank.

Reed remembers walking out into the sunshine of a beautiful day when kids ran by yelling, “They’ve got guns, they’ve got guns!”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Education, History, Marriage & Family, Teens / Youth, Violence

(Wash Post) I have no fear of death’: Barbara Bush on faith and finality

Barbara Bush had spent an hour talking about legacy and family — about the Christmas dance where she met the man who’d become her husband, about being “the enforcer” of a family that included two former U.S. presidents.

Then, in a flash, she was talking about death.

It was 2013 and Bush was 88 at the time of the interview, part of a C-Span series focusing on first ladies. She wore a pink blazer and her trademark faux pearls — and spoke with a mixture of grace and bluntness that her family and the American people had come to instantly recognize over the past four decades.

“I’m a huge believer in a loving God,” she said. “And I have no fear of death, which is a huge comfort because we’re getting darned close.

“And I don’t have a fear of death for my precious George or for myself because I know that there is a great God.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Death / Burial / Funerals, Eschatology, Marriage & Family, Office of the President, Religion & Culture

(The Economist) Trends in Burial and Cremation are Changing Around the World

In religious countries, burial is still the norm; Ireland buries 82% of its dead, Italy 77%. But over half of Americans are cremated, up from less than 4% in 1960, and this is expected to rise to 79% by 2035. In Japan, where the practice is seen as purification for the next life, it is nearly universal. Cremation, direct or otherwise, is not the only rival to old-fashioned burial. A study in 2015 found that over 60% of Americans in their 40s and older would consider a “green” burial, with no embalming and a biodegradable casket, if any. Five years before the proportion was just over 40%.

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Globalization, Religion & Culture

(NC Register) Hawaii becomes the seventh state to legalize physician-assisted suicide

“Nana, how is suicide okay for some people, but not for people like me?”

Eva Andrade’s teenage grandson, who had previously been hospitalized for suicidal ideation, had asked his grandmother that question recently: Hawaii became the seventh state to legalize physician-assisted suicide April 5, a year after a previous legislative attempt.

Proponents claimed the law would give people with terminal illnesses (and a diagnosis of less than six months to live) the personal autonomy to make that decision. The teenager did not see why the circumstances made a big difference for one group having the legal right to end life on their own terms, while others did not.

“This is a 15-year-old child making this connection on his own, just based on the conversations he was hearing,” Andrade said.

Andrade, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Catholic Conference, told the Register that the “Our Care, Our Choices Act,” which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019, threatens negative social repercussions and will have a “very detrimental effect on our community.”

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, State Government, Theology

Heartwarming Local story–Nearly seven decades after Korean war, a POW’s remains coming home for burial in South Carolina

More than 60 years after the Army declared Davis as Missing in Action during the Korean War, the Department of Defense has identified his remains. On Thursday, Davis will be buried at North Charleston’s Carolina Memorial Park not far from his wife Violet Davis’ grave.

“It’s kind of like a love story,” said Zachary Boney, a soldier stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Davis’s great-grandson.

“She never remarried, and she never dated. He was the only man she would ever be with because she didn’t want to be with anyone else.”

Boney, a horizontal construction engineer, on Sunday will travel to Hawaii to retrieve his great-grandfather’s remains. The 22-year-old will then fly from Hawaii to Charleston, escorting Davis across the country to deliver him safely to his family.

“I feel honored to do it,” Boney said.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Korea, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces

Michael Ridgill–The Rev. John Foster: Friend, Mentor, Co-Laborer, RIP

He started the C.S. Lewis Ministry Center at St. Bartholomew’s, Hartsville, as an outreach to college students and to provide a place for them to feel at home away from home. He started, taught and recruited instructors for a new S.A.T. Preparation course for high school students He coordinated with the diocese seeking ways to serve and reach those in the community and John was always willing to try new ideas. Out of this a Water Bottle Ministry was born….

Read it all (page 12).

Posted in * South Carolina, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry

(Atlantic) Victoria Sweet–It’s time to rethink the quest to control aging, death, and disease—and the fear of mortality that fuels it

I went to medical school, at least in part, to get to know death and perhaps to make my peace with it. So did many of my doctor friends, as I would find out. One day—usually when you’re young, though sometimes later—the thought hits you: You really are going to die. That moment is shocking, frightening, terrible. You try to pretend it hasn’t happened (it’s only a thought, after all), and you go about your business, worrying about this or that, until the day you put your hand to your neck—in the shower, say—and … What is that? Those hard lumps that you know, at first touch, should not be there? But there they are, and they mean death. Your death, and you can’t pretend anymore.

I never wanted to be surprised that way, and I thought that if I became a doctor and saw a lot of death, I might get used to it; it wouldn’t surprise me, and I could learn to live with it. My strategy worked pretty well. Over the decades, from all my patients, I learned that I would be well until I got sick and that although I could do some things to delay the inevitable a bit, whatever control I had was limited. I learned that I had to live as if I would die tomorrow and at the same time as if I would live forever. Meanwhile, I watched as what had been called “medical care”—that is, treating the sick—turned into “health care,” keeping people healthy, at an ever-rising cost.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

A Globe and Mail profile Story of the medically assisted suicide of a Couple Married 73 years, the Brickendens

The Brickendens are one of the few couples in Canada to receive a doctor-assisted death together, and the first to speak about it publicly.

They wanted to explain what it meant to them to die at a time and place of their choosing, as at least 2,149 Canadians and likely hundreds more have done since assisted dying became legal in this country.

The Brickendens are at the vanguard of patients and families who are creating new rituals around dying in Canada – the kind of rituals that are only possible when death comes at a previously appointed hour.

But cases like theirs also raise uncomfortable questions about whether the vague eligibility criteria in Canada’s assisted-dying law are sometimes being interpreted more broadly than the government intended.

One of the most controversial stipulations in the law is that a patient’s natural death must be “reasonably foreseeable,” – something that could plausibly be said of every nonagenarian. The law dictates other requirements, including intolerable suffering and irreversible decline, but those concepts can be elastic, too.

Read it all.

Posted in Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family

Upon our Saviour’s Tomb, wherein never man was laid.

HOW life and death in Thee
Agree !
Thou hadst a virgin womb
And tomb.
A Joseph did betroth
Them both.

–Richard Crashaw (1613-1649)

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Holy Week, Poetry & Literature

Philip Yancey on Holy Saturday–“In the cosmic drama, we live out our days on Saturday”

[Tony] Campolo skipped one day in his sermon, though. The other two days [besides Holy Saturday] have earned names on the church calendar: Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Yet in a real sense we live on Saturday, the day with no name. What the disciples experienced on a small scale—three days, in grief over one man who had died on a cross—we now live through on a cosmic scale. Human history grinds on, between the time of promise and fulfillment. Can we trust that God can make something holy and beautiful and good out of a world that includes Bosnia and Rwanda, and inner-city ghettoes and jammed prisons in the richest nation on earth? It’s Saturday on planet earth; will Sunday ever come?

That dark, Golgothan Friday can only be called Good because of what happened on Easter Sunday, a day which gives a tantalizing clue to the riddle of the universe. Easter opened up a crack in a universe winding down toward entropy and decay, sealing the promise that someday God will enlarge the miracle of Easter to cosmic scale.

It is a good thing to remember that in the cosmic drama, we live out our days on Saturday, the in-between day with no name. I know a woman whose grandmother lies buried under 150-year-old live oak trees in the cemetery of an Episcopal church in rural Louisiana. In accordance with the grandmother’s instructions, only one word is carved on the tombstone: “Waiting.”

–Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992 paperback ed. of the 1995 original), p.275

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Holy Week

Hans Urs von Balthasar on Holy Saturday–‘His being with the dead is an existence at the utmost pitch of obedience’


This ultimate solidarity is the final point and the goal of that first ‘descent,’ so clearly described in the Scriptures, into a ‘lower world’ which, with Augustine, can already be characterised, by way of contrast with heaven, as infernum. Thomas Aquinas will echo Augustine here. For him, the necessity whereby Christ had to go down to Hades lies not in some insufficiency of the suffering endured on the Cross but in the fact that Christ has assumed all the defectus of sinners…Now the penalty which the sin of man brought on was not only the death of the body. It was also a penalty affected the soul, for sinning was also the soul’s work, and the soul paid the price in being deprived of the vision of God. As yet unexpiated, it followed that all human beings who lived before the coming of Christ, even the holy ancestors, descended into the infernum. And so, in order to assume the entire penalty imposed upon sinners, Christ willed not only to die, but to go down, in his soul, ad infernum. As early as the Fathers of the second century, this act of sharing constituted the term and aim of the Incarnation. The ‘terrors of death’ into which Jesus himself falls are only dispelled when the Father raises him again…He insists on his own grounding principle, namely, that only what has been endured is healed and saved.

That the Redeemer is solidarity with the dead, or, better, with this death which makes of the dead, for the first time, dead human beings in all reality- this is the final consequence of the redemptive mission he has received from the Father. His being with the dead is an existence at the utmost pitch of obedience, and because the One thus obedient is the dead Christ, it constitutes the ‘obedience of a corpse’ (the phrase is Francis of Assisi’s) of a theologically unique kind. By it Christ takes the existential measure of everything that is sheerly contrary to God, of the entire object of the divine eschatological judgment, which here is grasped in that event in which it is ‘cast down’ (hormemati blethesetai, Apocalypse 18, 21; John 12; Matthew 22, 13). But at the same time, this happening gives the measure of the Father’s mission in all its amplitude: the ‘exploration’ of Hell is an event of the (economic) Trinity…This vision of chaos by the God-man has become for us the condition of our vision of Divinity. His exploration of the ultimate depths has transformed what was a prison into a way.

––Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988), Mysterium Paschale: The Mystery of Easter [emphasis mine]

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Holy Week

God knows our Dying From the Inside

Jesus dies. His lifeless body is taken down from the cross. Painters and sculptors have strained their every nerve to portray the sorrow of Mary holding her lifeless son in her arms, as mothers today in Baghdad hold with the same anguish the bodies of their children. On Holy Saturday, or Easter Eve, God is dead, entering into the nothingness of human dying. The source of all being, the One who framed the vastness and the microscopic patterning of the Universe, the delicacy of petals and the scent of thyme, the musician’s melodies and the lover’s heart, is one with us in our mortality. In Jesus, God knows our dying from the inside.

–The Rt. Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Rowell

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Holy Week

Jesus Christ was Buried

“By the grace of God” Jesus tasted death “for every one”. In his plan of salvation, God ordained that his Son should not only “die for our sins” but should also “taste death”, experience the condition of death, the separation of his soul from his body, between the time he expired on the cross and the time he was raised from the dead. The state of the dead Christ is the mystery of the tomb and the descent into hell. It is the mystery of Holy Saturday, when Christ, lying in the tomb, reveals God’s great sabbath rest after the fulfillment of man’s salvation, which brings peace to the whole universe.

–The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church, para. 624

Posted in Christology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Holy Week