CPR as Death Ritual | Topic

“Only about one in five receiving CPR in a hospital leave the hospital alive.

Only 1 in 10 elderly patients receiving CPR are alive a year later…

…A society’s death rituals make a statement not only about what it means to die, but also what it means to live.

For a world obsessed with technology, our final rites are a last communion with data and machines.”

—Nathan Gray. “What Doctors Know About CPR.” Topic. December 2018.

CPR has a place, but it’s a small one. It should never be a piece of theater for families that cannot accept the fact that death comes to us all, and modern medicine cannot prevent it.

The Red Hand Files

Nick Cave answers questions from his fans. His response answering a question on grief and communicating with the dead is simply great:

“It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That’s the deal. That’s the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable. There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves. We are tiny, trembling clusters of atoms subsumed within grief’s awesome presence. It occupies the core of our being and extends through our fingers to the limits of the universe. Within that whirling gyre all manner of madnesses exist; ghosts and spirits and dream visitations, and everything else that we, in our anguish, will into existence. These are precious gifts that are as valid and as real as we need them to be. They are the spirit guides that lead us out of the darkness.”

—Nick Cave. “Issue #6.” The Red Hand Files. October 2018.

Modern Dying

“I have heard it said that modern dying means dying more, dying over longer periods, enduring more uncertainty, subjecting ourselves and our families to more disappointments and despair. As we are enabled to live longer, we are also condemned to die longer. In that case, it should come as no surprise that some of us seek out the means to bring a dignified end to the ordeal, while we are still capable of deciding matters for ourselves. Where is the crime in that? A sorrowful goodbye, a chance to kiss each beloved face for the last time before sleep descends, pain retreats, dread dissolves, and death is defeated by death itself.”

—Cory Taylor, Dying: A Memoir. (Portland, OR: Tin House Books, 2017), 140-141.

A Mortician’s Tale

“Why was it so striking, though? In its refreshing brevity, A Mortician’s Tale is eminently successful at what it sets out to accomplish. It’s wholly pleasant and always instructive, even in its mundane moments, which, in themselves, are educational. It pries open a less accessible life experience and gives players the opportunity to understand a real-world perspective that, likely, is quite unlike their own. It elicits dark feelings, but asks players to consider where those feelings came from and what makes them dark.”

—Cecilia D’Anastasio, “One of 2017’s Best Games is About Being a Mortician.” Kotaku.com. October 16, 2017.

Dying Isn’t the End of the World

“‘Dying isn’t the end of the world,’ my mom liked to joke, after she was diagnosed as terminal. I didn’t really understand it until, suddenly, I did—when my breast cancer became metastatic and incurable. There are so many things that are worse than death: old grudges; a loveless life; insufficient self-awareness; severe constipation; a lack of curiosity; no sense of humor; this grim parking lot.”

—Riggs, Nina. “The Crematorium.”  Catapult. August 8, 2016

Nina Riggs died last month.