Death Cafe- drink tea, eat cake, discuss dying

What is the Meaning of Death?

At work, I took a question over the phone from one of our business advisors in the field, about a client wanting to become a funeral director. I asked the advisor if she was familiar with the Death Cafe, She was not.

“At a Death Cafe people drink tea, eat cake and discuss death. Our aim is to increase awareness of death to help people make the most of their (finite) lives.”

While Death Café is not a grief support group, it does offer a safe space to openly discuss thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding dying and death. Death Cafés help us move toward being “a society that mindfully accepts dying and death as a part of everyday life.”

As I’ve mentioned, I had attended the first Death Cafe event in Albany in January 2018, and while I had not had a chance to go to subsequent talks, I have been following the local group on Facebook.

As my work colleague discovered, I’ve been fascinated by the issues surrounding death, going back to the passing of my paternal grandmother in 1964 and maternal great aunt in 1966.

I was also influenced by a now-infamous individual, Bill Cosby, who, in one of his routines, told us that when one dies, a person could be rigged up so that each time a mourner passes his open coffin he sits up and says, “Don’t I look like myself?” It’s funnier in context.

Cosby indirectly got me to read, when I was a young teenager, the landmark book The American Way of Death, “an exposé of abuses in the funeral home industry in the United States, written by Jessica Mitford and published in 1963.”

The next gathering of Death Cafe Albany will be at The Chapel at Albany Rural Cemetery on Saturday, September 29th from 1-2:30 pm. Please bring your own mug. Tea and cold water will be provided.

Here are some links from the Death Cafe Albany site on Facebook:

Photos of love and loss

What is the Meaning of Death? This Man Has Some Words to Share with You

Green funeral

Mom died early Friday the 13th….finally

The Funeral and Cemetery Law Blog

The Death Café phenomenon

And here are some grief-related resources that someone sent me to share:

Preparing for the Death of a Terminally-Ill Loved One: What to Expect, and How to Help the Entire Family Move Forward

Symptoms of Major Depression and Complicated Grief

Guidelines for Helping Grieving Children

Coping With The Stigma of Grieving an Overdose Death

Grief & the Loss of a Pet

Grief At Work: A Guide For Employees and Managers

For ABC Wednesday

Time’s Up: “Silence helps the tormentors”

“Neutrality helps the oppressors, not the oppressed.”

Jodi Kantor, New York Times
Beyond being gratified that the #MeToo/Time’s Up movement has come to pass, I have been fascinated how it seems to have really come together only in the past six months.

I’ve seen Jodi Kantor, one of the New York Times reporters along with Megan Twohey, who broke the Harvey Weinstein story, several times on TV, usually on CBS This Morning but also on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. And it was the Weinstein scandal, not only his reported illicit behavior but also the cover up, that unleashed the torrent of responses.

As Kantor has assessed the revolution: “My colleagues Emily Steel and Michael Schmidt had done the story about Bill O’Reilly, his long trail of settlements with women. That was a light bulb moment. Editors at the Times…ask[ed] the question, ‘Are there other prominent male figures in American life who have covered up serious problems with treatment of women?'”

And she sees how the momentum built. “You could make an argument that the women who came forward about [Bill] Cosby affected the women who came forward about the men at Fox News, who affected the women who came forward about President Trump, who affected the women who came forward about Silicon Valley, who affected the women who came forward about Harvey Weinstein,” who was less well known than the women who reported his actions.

A week after Oprah Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech – ““I want all the girls watching to know a new day is on the horizon” – she spoke to seven powerful Hollywood women for CBS Sunday Morning and explored how much pain some of them still have with their #MeToo experience.

Winfrey asked Reese Witherspoon, who had “spoken of being assaulted on one of her first movies, at age 16,” how speaking out has “led to a greater sense of empowerment and control over it?”

“Well, I don’t know if I’ve gotten to that place yet,” Witherspoon replied. “As you can see, I’m very emotional about it. But I keep going back to somebody sent me this Elie Wiesel quote that said, ‘Silence helps the tormentors, it doesn’t help the tormented. And neutrality helps the oppressors, not the oppressed.'”

America Ferrera had posted about an incident when she “was nine years old being assaulted by a man who I was then sort of forced to see afterwards for a long time. And what struck me about my experience was his certainty that I would be silent. And he was right. He was right for 24 years.”

TV producer Shonda Rhimes says what most of the women were saying: “At a certain point there has to be room for reconciliation in a world… But a lot of people don’t think that right now — and a lot of women have the right to not feel that right now.”

Men need to understand that when women have been aggrieved for a VERY long time – Ferrera put it well: “Speaking of this moment, as a culture we’ve gone from not listening, hearing or believing women, and how were we going to skip over the whole part where women get to be heard, and go straight to the redemption of the perpetrators? Can’t we live in that space where it’s okay for perpetrators to be a little bit uncomfortable with what the consequences will be?”

I suppose this kind of sucks for men. But the status quo for women has sucked far, far longer.

Jena Friedman on Conan O’Brien’s show

Cosby, Weinstein, Nassar, Moore, C.K., etc.

“You’re not the good guy here.”

Some random, still evolving thoughts: A friend of mine, a male, not so incidentally, wrote recently: “Don’t try to defend sex offenders just because you identify with them or like their work. Just don’t. Let their power and the difficulty in prosecuting them for their crimes keep them warm at night, not your ambivalent acquiescence to the horrors they have committed.”

This is, of course, the right and proper position to take. Yet I do understand how it can be a hard one to follow because it was difficult for me to believe the forerunner of the Mark Halperins/Kevin Spaceys, et al, could have been capable of the things he was accused of doing. That is, until woman after woman repeated the quite similar modus operandi of Dr. William H. Cosby, Jr., whose comedy routines I still remember.

Still, I had hoped, despite me labeling this as a rape culture four years ago, that the problem was not as toxic as it has turned out to be. As a clinical psychiatrist was discussing on one of the morning shows, this pattern of behavior isn’t about sex, it’s about power, tied up with shame and a sometimes perverse use of religion, religion.

While I find all the allegations troubling, some I find even worse than others. For sheer numbers of reported, Harvey Weinstein’s not only among the top predators, but he used an Israeli intelligence firm and contracting with a prestigious law firm to cover it up; both entities have since apologized.

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman is just the latest gymnast to accuse the team doctor, Larry Nassar, of sexual assault, joining over 130 other women. “Nassar, who is now in jail, worked with the US women’s national gymnastics team for more than two decades. He pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault, but did plead guilty to child pornography charges.”

The Roy Moore story is troubling, and infuriating. He is running to be a US Senator in Alabama in December. His defense is shaky and contradictory. Worse, some of his allies have concocted a response that, if he DID date teenagers when he was in his thirties and molested a 14-year-old, well, Joseph was much older than the Virgin Mary. WHAT? That doesn’t even make theological sense.

As Mark Evanier noted, at least Louis C.K. has accepted responsibility for his own sordid actions. “He not only said he did it, he seems to have even had a little actual understanding of why he did it and why it was wrong.” On the other hand, as someone once said to BoJack Horseman, “you’re not the good guy here.”

You know who needs to work on this issue? Members of Congress, who have been immune to many of the sexual harassment laws they’ve passed for others to follow.

There are SO many of these allegations, I cannot keep track. Cinefamily, an entity I had not heard of, recently shut down. And of course, these types of behavior take place all the time by people who are not famous.

Moore defends himself saying that if these events happened decades ago, why are they are coming out now? Because the individual victim, woman or man, is not usually believed, and it takes a tsunami of brave people speaking out for some others to risk saying MeToo.

For now, here’s Joyful Heart’s new PSA campaign, which “mirrors back the societal attitudes that have excused, minimized, and helped perpetuate violence against women and girls for so long. Enough”. Also, why do women make themselves attractive, which you should just read.

July rambling #2: Northwest disasters and Taxman v. Batman

Putin on the RIZLast Week Tonight with John Oliver: Stadiums, a ripoff for taxpayers; bail; and poisonous mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Laci Green (no relation): Systemic Racism for Dummies.

Muslim Groups Step In To Help Black Churches Burned In Wave Of Arson.

Why it’s never ‘the right time’ to discuss gun control.

Wil Wheaton: living with depression and anxiety.

Jeff Sharlet: I went to Skid Row to report on Charly “Africa” Keunang, “an unarmed homeless man held down and shot six times by Los Angeles police. Continue reading “July rambling #2: Northwest disasters and Taxman v. Batman”

The Bill Cosby disintegration

The Cosby Show helped to redefine, for a while, what black people on TV were like.

Kennedy Center Honors winner Bill Cosby (1998)
Kennedy Center Honors winner Bill Cosby (1998)
Mark Evanier was right when he wrote: “You can kind of tell Bill Cosby is in serious trouble because the photos of him have all gone from looking like” the Cosby of thirty or forty years ago “to looking like” the 77-year-old man that he is. “Much the same change has occurred in a lot of minds.”

Bill Cosby was someone I looked to, not just because I found him funny. Though Continue reading “The Bill Cosby disintegration”