When someone has a "cardiac event"—that is, if someone suddenly passes out and their heart stops—calling 911 and administering CPR is the go-to method for trying to resuscitate them. But what's the proper way to administer CPR? To help people do CPR correctly, the American Heart Association made use of the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive": at 100 beats per minute, it's the ideal rhythm for re-starting a stopped heart. And now we have Community's Ken Jeong to help us really remember the beat.

via MetaFilter

MemoValley, a site whose mission is to allow people to share memories of their departed loved ones, mentioned us in a recent blog post about "preparing for death with help from the startup world." Here's what they had to say about Everplans:

A very structured web-site which takes the user through all the necessary steps to plan a good exit from life. Interestingly, a lot of these steps are not obvious ones and you realize it is much better to deal with them now rather than leaving them to your dear ones.

Thanks! Best of luck MemoValley in keeping legacies alive in the digital realm.

What do the most die-hard college football fanatics do when they, um, die? Keep the school spirit going for eternity by being buried in a college themed casket.

To kick off the season right, we’re honoring the top 10 ranked schools with their casket equivalent, which are real things you can actually buy.

1. Alabama Crimson Tide (University of Alabama)


(Photo Source: Collegiate Memorials)

This allows you to roll tide…literally. (Sorry about that. We’ll try to make the rest of the captions a little better. But we ain’t making any promises.)

2. Ohio State Buckeyes (Ohio State University)


(Photo Source: Flickr)

Don’t forget to emphasize the “THE” whenever saying Ohio State. We have no idea why but football players say it this way and it sounds cool.

3. Oregon Ducks (The University of Oregon)


(Photo Source: GoDucks.com)

The greenest casket on the list, by far. We’re not sure about the environmental impact, but these guys are green and quite sharp with embossed wings and neon rails.

4. Stanford Cardinal (Stanford University)


(Photo Source: GoStanford.com)

Stanford is in California, and should not be confused with Stamford, Connecticut, which has no team. Connecticut does have UCONN, but they’d only make this list if we were including the top 8,000 ranked teams because they’re not very good.

5. Georgia Bulldogs (University of Georgia)


(Photo Source: Eye On Sports Media)

The cuddly Bulldog mascot alone might even make non-fans consider one of these caskets.

6. South Carolina Gamecocks (University of South Carolina)


(Photo Source: Collegiate Memorials)

Let the history lesson begin: The Gamecocks get their name from American Revolution war hero Thomas Sumter, who employed fierce fighting tactics against the British after they burned down his house.

7. Texas A&M Aggies (Texas A&M University)


(Photo Source: Trevino Smith Funeral Home)

What’s an Aggie, you may ask. It’s a student at Texas A&M. It’s that simple. Moving on…

8. Clemson Tigers (Clemson University)


(Photo Source: Collegiate Memorials)

Another university from South Carolina cracks the top 10. The vibrant orange and purple is sure to make any occasion festive

9. Louisville Cardinals (University of Louisville)


(Photo Source: GoCards.com)

And we have another cardinal in the top 10 as well. But unlike Stanford, this is a sassy angry looking cardinal, which are clearly the coolest cardinals of the avian world.

10. Florida Gators (University of Florida)


(Photo Source: Collegiate Memorials)

The U of F make the top ten by the skin of their alligator teeth.

Bonus Team! Duke Blue Devils (Duke University)


(Photo Source: Collegiate Memorials)

Duke fans should order these early since your football seasons are always over before they start. The good news: March Madness is right around the corner!

What do you think about college-themed caskets? Are they cool? Thoughtful? Insensitive? Tacky? Let us know.
 

Bear—Augustus. Peacefully entered into eternal hibernation at his home on Tuesday after brief yet courageous battle with complications from thyroid tumor on Tuesday, August 27th. “Gus,” as his friends and fans knew him, was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1985. His career blossomed when he moved to the Big Apple in 1988, to become the resident polar bear ambassador at the world-renowned Central Park Zoo. For the following 24 years, (longer than the average Polar Bear lifespan) Gus educated and entertained over an estimated 20 million fans. An avid swimmer, he was known for his obsessive daily swims. Gus was blessed with more than just a prosperous career; he also found true love. Gus was pre-deceased by Ida, and sadly never fully recovered from his loss. Although animal therapists came to try to attempt to treat his depression, many who knew him believe that Gus had actually died of a broken heart.

The family requests that funeral services remain private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Wildlife Conservation Society.


 

The dry wit of New Yorker cartoons takes on the toughest topic of all: death. We picked out some of our favorites. Check them out below.

via The New Yorker

Last year, I was getting my MBA in London. There, I met Oded, a pastry chef from Israel, who would become a dear friend to me. Each week, Oded and I would take a break from our studies and spend Sundays in the kitchen. As he measured out ingredients, I would anxiously write the recipe in my notebook, hoping to be able to recreate his yummy concoctions when I no longer had my teacher near me. 

Often, we would speak about how recipes are passed down through generations. I told him that right before my father passed away I was able to make his famous chopped liver with him (and write down the recipe, of course). Now, I bring my father’s chopped liver to all the Jewish holidays, thrilled to feel that, in some way, my dad is still present. 

Oded then showed me a picture of a famous gravestone he’d seen in Poland. He translated the engravings for me: it was the recipe for “Grandma Ida’s Nut Cookies.”  Apparently, friends and family had always asked Ida for her cookie recipe and she wanted to be sure that her family continued to bake the cookies after she was gone. 

I love the idea of using the gravestone to memorialize a recipe! And what a wonderful legacy! An epitaph of a few words rarely does justice to a life well lived. By leaving friends, family, and even strangers this recipe, a bit of Grandma Ida will remain forever. Oded and I never got around to making Grandma Ida’s nut cookies, but we’ll always have the recipe.

Coimetrophobia is the official term for a fear of cemeteries. This word doesn’t describe those who have a mere dislike of cemeteries, but rather those for whom cemeteries bring on an actual negative physical reaction. The symptoms of coimetrophobia may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Heart palpitations
  • The inability to speak or think clearly
  • A full-on anxiety attack!

Not your common side effects! So why does an inanimate place elicit such strong emotions? What can someone suffering do to accept this as simply a final resting place and understand that there is nothing to fear?

To be fair to those who suffer from this phobia, cemeteries have a bad reputation. Most of us are first exposed to cemeteries in the movies, where cemeteries serve as backdrops for terrifying scenes. Whether zombies are coming up from below the ground or ghosts are flying around headstones, we learned not to enter a graveyard alone!

In the modern era, cemeteries have been moved away from urban life, which means that most of us aren’t interacting with cemeteries on a daily basis—a reality that only serves to make cemeteries seem more foreign, strange, and scary. By distancing ourselves from cemeteries, we’re blocking ourselves from realizing that the image in our minds (zombies, ghosts, etc.) is has nothing to do with the reality of the cemetery. Therefore, this creepy image of the haunted cemetery remains in many minds and only perpetuates the irrational fear.

Now, that last part is important: this fear is irrational. Cemeteries will not hurt you! I learned early on, “You only fear that which you don’t know.” So, go and “know” cemeteries!


If taking a trip to a cemetery seems too daunting (or simply too weird) of a task, then start off easy: Google image “cemeteries.” (I tried this myself before suggesting it; there are actually some really beautiful images online!) Once you’ve gotten comfortable with the images, take the big leap and go to a cemetery. You can do it!

Once you’ve walked though the peaceful space, you will learn that there is nothing to fear. Cemeteries are tranquil and lush with all sorts of beautiful greenery. Take a few minutes and enjoy them and be thankful that you’ve overcome your fear.

 

It's traditional to have a funeral or memorial service when someone dies. But why? What purpose does a funeral serve? Check out my top 4 reasons for why we have funerals.

When a friend experiences a loss, it's hard to know what to say. Writer Mary Elizabeth Williams intimately understands the challenge, and in response has put together a list of really helpful advice. She writes, "Though I still frequently find myself stunned and stammering for the right words with every fresh death, I’m trying to improve at the art of consolation. So I recently asked my friends for their counsel about what they’ve appreciated most in the worst moments. The main tip? Just be a friend. Just stick around. It’s so simple, and so needed."

Some of the tips she gathered from her friends include:

Don’t press too hard for details. Let the griever decide the narrative.

Don’t ask questions that sound like you’re looking for a way to make this OK. Don’t ask if he smoked or didn’t wear his seat belt or if he’d been very depressed lately or why he didn’t do that last round of chemo. Don’t judge him.

Be empathetic without one upsmanship. It’s OK to mention your own experience of loss, especially if it’s similar...But if this thing is ripping open your own old scars, you do not have a right to put that on the other person right now.

This is not radio; you do not have to fill the dead air. It’s OK to be quiet and thoughtful. Silence is not by definition awkward, not when you establish that you’re present and you’re supportive.

Stick around. Remember. For a long time. Grief is a chronic condition. So look at your phone. It has a reminder function, right? Set it for a month from now. Set it for the first Father’s Day after the death. Set it for the dead person’s birthday. And then check in with your friend.

If you've got any tips to add to this list, we'd love to know. Please leave them in the comments section below. If you're supporting a friend who's experienced a loss, take a look at Williams' piece in Salon and check out our articles How to Express Sympathy: What to Say and What Not to Say and How to Write a Condolence Note.

via Salon

The task of planning a funeral often falls on the younger generation: children plan funerals for their parents; adult grandchildren plan funerals for their grandparents. In many cases, the younger generations are also the less religious generations, and the task of planning a religious funeral for one of our elders can feel challenging if we don’t know the traditions.

Planning a traditional Jewish funeral, which has so many specific rules and rituals, can feel like a daunting task if you don’t know where to begin. But if you follow these few steps you can rest assured you’ll appropriately honor the deceased.

(Be aware that the steps I’ve listed below are all the traditional features of a Jewish funeral. Depending on how religious your family is or how religious you’d like the funeral to be you might find that you don’t need or want to follow all of these requirements.)

1. Opt for burial rather than cremation
Traditionally, Jews choose burial over cremation. The Jewish people believe that, “For out of it [the earth] wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis/Bereshit 3:19). That is, the body should be returned to the earth whole, as it was created. 

2. Bury as soon as possible!
Ideally the funeral should take place on the day of death. These days, with family and friends often living far away, it has become acceptable to delay the funeral a bit. That said, you should make an effort to bury as soon as you can. (There are exceptions to this rule, including if there are any legal issues surrounding the death that must be investigated, if the body must be transported from one city or country to another, or to avoid burial on Saturday or another holy day.).

3. Refrigerate, don’t embalm
Unless required by law, Jews usually avoid embalming the body or applying cosmetics to the body—the idea being that the body should return to the earth pure, clean, and naked as it came from the earth. In some situations it may be legally required that the body be embalmed, in which case the secular law trumps the religious practice.

4. Choose a simple all-wood casket
In order to return the body to the earth as naturally and quickly as possible, Jewish custom dictates using an all-wood casket, usually made out of pine, with no metal parts. By using a wooden casket, both the body and the casket are biodegradable, and will disintegrate into the ground and become one with the earth. (Some Jewish caskets will have holes in the bottom to accelerate the rate of decomposition of the body.)

Select a simple casket. Jewish tradition dictates that this is not a time for over-spending. The only embellishment that is usually acceptable is a Star of David on the top.

5. Dress the deceased in a shroud (“tachrichim”)
It is traditional for Jews to be buried in a plain white linen or muslin shroud, rather than fancy clothes. The shroud is meant to symbolize purity and equity, as all are equal in the eyes of God. Also, there are no pockets in the shroud because it is believe that one cannot take any possessions into the next world. (In Hebrew, the process of dressing the body in the shroud is called “tachrichim.”) Men may also be buried in prayer shawls (“tallit” or “tallises”) and skullcaps (“kippah”).

6. Hire a “shomer”
Jewish people believe that the deceased should not be left alone before burial, and so someone must stay with the body from the moment of death until the body is in the earth. The person who says with the body is called a “shomer,” or “watchman.” A friend or family member may serve as the shomer, or a professional shomer can be hired to sit with the deceased and recite psalms. If the person who died belonged to a synagogue, the community may have members who volunteer to serve as shomer, so it’s a good idea to be in touch with the temple.

7. Contact a Chevra Kadishha
A Chevra Kadisha is a Jewish burial society that can oversee the preparations of the body and make sure that all Jewish rituals and laws are properly followed. If your community has a Chevra Kadisha, you may want to reach out to them, as they’ll have a good sense of the resources in your area and may be able to help you plan the funeral.

For more information on Jewish funeral traditions, be sure to check out our article Jewish Funeral Traditions. And if you have any questions that I haven't answered here, please ask in the comments section below!