The family depicted thinks attempting to talk about planning is as good as talking about planning and both sides feel relieved, and somewhat exonerated, to not talk about it. There is no perfect way to have this often awkward conversation, especially since everyone's relationship with their parents is so different, but we're working on some articles to help out. The one positive to come from this: Somewhere in the cartoon/comic universe, Cathy would be proud.
Welcome to the Everplans Blog where we cover everything from Duck Dynasty to Death Over Dinner.
Scarves can be our best friends. They keep our necks warm during a polar vortex, they allow women to display their impeccable style, they let us know which men to avoid at all costs. You know, the guy wearing one with a t-shirt because he thinks he’s a rockstar. (He’s not.) But what happens when this versatile fashionable friend turns deadly?
According to the BBC, a female commuter at a Montreal Metro station was strangled to death when her scarf got stuck in an escalator. No, this isn’t a new horror movie, or Stephen King novel, this really happened. According to police when she went to pry herself free her hair also got caught.
5 Tips and Takeaways From this Tragic Story
1. Even though escalators have become part of our everyday lives, you should still practice basic safety when riding one. For example: How many times have you been at a mall and witnessed how careless some people can be on these moving metal staircases with the ability to trap anything in their steely teeth? We’ve seen people putting their bags down, children sitting, people in scooters attempting to use them rather than wait for an elevator. We know the odds of dying on an escalator are slim, but do you think the woman in the story mentioned above thought she’d die on one?
2. Wear reasonably sized scarves. Maybe it’s because we live in New York, but it seems like scarves are getting way too big. You shouldn’t be wrapping an entire quilt around your neck.
3. Nothing you wear or own is worth your life. If your hat gets blown off while you’re riding a ferry, you don’t jump in the freezing water to retrieve it. The same goes for items of clothing getting caught in grinding gears. Don’t try to pull the item out! Instead do everything possible to get that item off of your body as quickly as possible. It might result in an awkward conversation with mall or mass transit security when they have to decommission the escalator for a bit, but it’s better than them having to deal with your dead body.
4. Don’t lean over a shredder or garbage disposal if you’re wearing a tie, because even David Copperfield, David Blaine and Criss Angel on their best days can’t escape from that.
5. We know commuting can be a mind-numbing drag, but always be vigilant. Whether you take a train, bus, drive, or are lucky enough to walk to work, it’s easy to let your mind wander or become distracted so always keep the following things in mind:
- Don’t get too close to the edge of the train platform. It doesn’t help you get on the train any faster. If anything, it makes you look rude for not letting the people off first.
- Hold on to something when the bus is moving. You never know when the bus will stop short, tossing you like a ragdoll down the aisle.
- If you don't have hands-free capabilities, no texting or checking emails while driving, even if you’re stuck in traffic. Ever! If you see someone doing this you have our permission to pull them over and smash their phone. (Ed. Note: We do not condone illegal activity...that said, if you happen to do this please send us a video of it.)
- While walking on the street, don’t let headphones become too big a distraction. We know the song playing in your ears is your own personal soundtrack for an awesome movie starring you, but all it takes is one careless step off the curb and it’s all over.
Why We Care
What would your family and friends do if a fatal accident happened to you, apart from being really sad? We’re currently devoting our lives to making sure people have all their important documents and plans in order if the unexpected, or the expected, strikes. An untimely death is always horrible, but so is leaving a mess behind for your grieving loved ones. So take a few minutes and get acquainted with our service. Plus, after you have a plan in place, it’ll be one less thing to worry about.
Trivia Fun Fact: "The first patent relating to an escalator-like machine was granted in 1859 to a Massachusetts man for a steam driven unit." [Source: History of the Escalator]
A man whose father is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease wrote Carol Burnett a touching letter, which you should definitely read here.
Dop Troutman recalls idolizing The Carol Burnett Show as a child, and would jokingly refer to her as his girlfriend. Even though Alzheimer’s has taken most of his father’s memories away, this past Thanksgiving while watching Burnett receive the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor at the Kennedy Center on TV, it sparked a memory in his father...you know, we can’t spoil it. Just read the letter, please. Then prepare yourself, possibly with some tissues, for the equally touching response.
Those who have been affected by Alzheimer’s know that moments of clarity can be hard to come by, making any recollection, no matter how seemingly insignificant, a cause for hope and celebration. It lets you know that, deep down, the person you love is still there, no matter how much suffering the disease may cause.
We love to see more stories like this, so if you have any please share them in the comments or click the “Feedback” box on the right hand side of the page and send us a message. We’re also happy to see Burnett still entertaining the world after all these years. Even though Hawaii Five-0 did give her a brain tumor for Thanksgiving. (Thankfully, it was only fiction.)
Resources: Alzheimer’s Association
However you honor your faith or religion is fine by us. We’re not here to judge. We’re here to make sure you plan. So, if you believe handling deadly, poisonous snakes puts you on the path to righteousness, please get all your important papers and documents together first.
Recently, Kentucky Pentecostal pastor and star of National Geographic’s Snake Salvation Jamie Coots was doing his customary serpent handling when he was bitten by a rattlesnake, refused treatment and died.
The thinking behind snake handling is quite simple: God will protect you from deadly snakes. If you get bitten he will protect you from the venom. If you die, it was God’s will. According to TMZ, it’s illegal to handle snakes in Kentucky:
"Any person who displays, handles or uses any kind of reptile in connection with any religious service or gathering shall be fined not less than $50 nor more than $100."
This makes sense from a public safety perspective, because these snakes could escape and go on a neighborhood rampage. Or worse, buy plane tickets…
Samuel L. Jackson has had it with these Snakes on a Plane jokes.
Coots’, who had been bitten numerous times in the past, refused medical treatment and died on February 15th at the age of 42.
While we’re not reptile handling enthusiasts--apart from garden snakes and non-poisonous ones being handled by a professional in a secure environment--we implore anyone who is to do an Everplan first. What are the benefits for snake handlers...and non-snake handlers?
- Advance Directive: Make your medical decisions absolutely clear to your family and loved ones. In the case of snake handlers, who put no faith in modern medicine, you want a DNR and you don't want any treatment at all. Ever.
- Will: Who gets all your snakes when you're gone? Name snake guardians.
- Life Insurance: If you handle snakes regularly, this probably isn't a factor. But if you found a company to insure you, and you can afford the astronomical premiums, where's the policy?
For those curious about the world of snake handling, check out ABC Nightline's report below:
This faux email, which they claim has been sent to possibly millions of random innocent people, invites them to a “celebration of your friends life.” The really devious part is that it’s sent from a legitimate funeral home and the way it tries to get you to click on the link:
“Please find invitation and more detailed information about the farewell ceremony here.”
If you click on the the word “here” your computer will most likely be infected with a virus.
These phishing scams are meant to be clever and look real. This is no exception, especially since they’re using a real Texas funeral home, which has smartly posted a notice on their website to alert everyone of the scam.
I’m not surprised hackers would exploit death for their own purposes. But it’s upsetting they’re targeting the grieving as well as an industry many already judge negatively based on speculation. At least we can take heart in the fact that this isn’t a funeral industry scandal, but yet another thing to be aware of in the digital world.
My Brilliant Guru Advice: BE CAREFUL and don’t open sketchy emails!
New York has always taken fashion very seriously and twice a year the city is pleasantly hijacked by the fashion industry. Tents go up around Manhattan, designers showcase their brilliant (often outlandish) creations, and thousands watch to see not only the fashion forecast but also who gets the coveted front row seats.
Having grown up in NYC, most of my family and friends are in this industry and everyone thought I would follow in their footsteps. Since my title at Everplans is “Funeral Guru” it’s clear I opted for a slightly different field. Although I no longer feel the need to get dolled up and shuffle from one venue to another, I still love the parties!
At one of these soirees, my contrasting career became a topic of conversation. Not surprisingly, the discussion quickly became focused on: What would your FINAL outfit be? My friends came up with some very creative ideas and wishes, but unfortunately, I had to point out there were a few things they should keep in mind before settling on their last looks.
First, if you’re religious, you need to consider the appropriate ritual dress. For example, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Baha’i people traditionally are buried in shrouds. These are plain white natural fabrics (either linen or cotton depending on the religion) that are hand-sewn together (no zippers or other fasteners are used.) The thought behind this uniformly inexpensive burial garb is that at the end of life, all are equal in the eyes of God. The lack of pockets is meant to remind the living that you cannot take your possessions with you.
If you’re not bound by religious rituals, there are still a few guidelines to keep in mind. Traditionally, people were buried in their best outfits, such a suit for a man and a dress for a woman. If you opt to go this route, keep in mind that the outfit of choice should be freshly laundered, arms should be covered, and don’t forget to include all pieces of the outfits. By this, I mean that socks or stockings and undergarments are a must, and you might consider including a handkerchief, scarf, belt, glasses, and even jewelry.
Something To Consider
There might be possessions of yours that your loved ones will want to cherish. Although you might think no outfit is complete without your trademark watch, ring, or tie, that item might serve as a valued keepsake or heirloom to someone else. Also, if you're tasked with choosing the clothes for a recently departed loved one, our How To Choose Clothing For The Deceased article is a helpful resource.
I’ve always supported straying from the norm and choosing an outfit that is special to you. For example, if you want to support your favorite team for eternity, choose a team jersey. Proud of the time you served your country? Select your military uniform. Maybe, you just want to dress appropriately for the “long slumber” by wearing your favorite pajamas. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that is you, because unlike the trendy ensembles I saw this week, this is also how your family and friends might remember you forever.
Most episodes of A&E’s Storage Wars are pretty much the same. A bunch of sassy characters bid and overpay for storage lockers, they dig through boxes and other garbage, and just when all hope is lost..."WAIT A MINUTE!!!!" Something of value is uncovered.
Well, former-Storage Wars contestant Steve Monetti got the shock of a lifetime when he purchased a locker at Harlem Self-Storage and found 31 urns complete with ashes, according to the New York Post.
While it’s definitely unsettling, nothing illegal occurred. Apparently the ashes were returned from crematoriums to the M. Marshall Blake Funeral Parlor, which went unclaimed and were stored in the locker. When they fell behind on the monthly payments the storage locker went up for auction.
It might seem strange to think a person would opt for cremation, purchase an ornate urn and not claim it. But, according to our Funeral Guru Elizabeth Meyer, it’s not uncommon.
“Funeral homes will keep ashes for a set period of time and continually attempt to contact the next of kin to get them picked up,” she said. “But some people can’t emotionally deal with the situation, or don’t know what to do with the ashes after they take them.”
Funeral homes will store unclaimed ashes for a set period of time. If no one claims them they’ll be returned to the crematory, who will also attempt to find them a home. If no one claims them after their set period of time they will eventually bury or scatter them, depending on the state laws. The LA Times wrote a story about the growing problem of unclaimed ashes in 2008 and as the popularity in cremation rises--as of 2010 the national number is at 41-percent and on the rise--what can be done to help eliminate the problem? If you're planning to be cremated after you shuffle off this mortal coil let your family and friends know what you want done with your ashes.
Since it’s a difficult and emotional situation, we wrote some articles that can prepare you in advance...or help if you’re currently wrestling with this issue:
As for the Harlem storage locker, it appears that it’s up to Monetti to try and locate relatives so the ashes can be at peace. Now that’s an A&E show we’d love to watch.
According to a new study, hospital mistakes are the third leading cause of death in America, right behind heart disease (#1) and cancer (#2). The estimated number: between 210,000 to 440,000 a year.
Before you panic and refuse to ever go to a hospital again, let’s see how we got to these massive numbers.
NPR reports that the accepted industry figure has always been around 98,000 a year stemming from a 1999 report called “To Err Is Human.” In 2010, the Office of Inspector said bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 in Medicare alone. Now, a study by a NASA toxicologist in the Journal of Patient Safety claims the number has grown to the massive number we listed above.
Study author John T. James, who began his advocacy work after attributing the death of his 19-year-old son to hospital negligence, based his estimates on four recent studies identifying preventable harm suffered by patients. After lots of number crunching he concluded that preventable errors could be attributed to around half a million hospital patients deaths each year.
“An estimate of 440,000 deaths from care in hospitals 'is roughly one-sixth of all deaths that occur in the United States each year,' James wrote in his study. He also cited other research that's shown hospital reporting systems and peer-review capture only a fraction of patient harm or negligent care.”
Since hospitals aren’t completely transparent when they make mistakes, there’s no way of knowing an exact number, but other experts haven’t disputed James’ findings. One of the reasons for the upswing in these sorts of deaths include more complex medical procedures as well as “unintended consequences when doctors perform procedure and tests.”
Regardless of whether these numbers are true or a wild estimate, you need to advocate for yourself at all times when taking a trip to the hospital or any other major medical appointment. If you’re not in the best of health or you’re not up for asking a doctor a lot of questions, bring someone along to help you out. This is also the perfect time to sharpen the skills of your Health Care Proxy. If you haven’t named a Proxy yet, or don’t even know what one is, click here to learn all you need to know about naming a health care proxy.
Tasteless, right? For those unfamiliar with what I just posted above, that’s a hashtag used on sites like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to categorize photos, tweets and blog posts to identify messages on a specific topic. How specific? As specific as you’d like it to be. And while the “#CorpseSelfie” isn’t by any means the norm, it might as well be after reading this horrible story about a high school student posting a photo of herself with a cadaver.
While on the senior class trip to the University of Alabama’s Anatomical Donation Center, one high school student did what many high school students do… she took a selfie. (For those non-web savvy readers, a “selfie” is when someone takes a photo of themselves with their phone.)
The issue here is that she opted to include a cadaver in this picture. Thus, this deceased man, who had the goodness to donate his body to science, was completely exposed on Instagram. The photo was deleted, and all subsequent ones have blurred the body and student, but the beast had been released.
The point of the Internet is to get attention at all costs. The more shocking and bizarre the more popular it becomes. Then other people come along and either emulate the trend or make fun of it until they get bored and move on to something else.
Mostly, it’s just harmless, and often clever, fun. When something truly horrible surfaces, like racist Halloween costumes or fast food workers grossly tampering with food, the Internet and mainstream media comes together to shame it out of existence. However, every year there’s always another racist Halloween costume or rogue fast food employee and the cycle starts all over again. Ideally, taking photos with cadavers won’t happen often, but with hundreds of millions of people online, some of whom will do anything to gain more “likes” and re-tweets, odds are it will happen again.
This also opens up the conversation about decorum when confronted with death. Remember when President Obama took a selfie at Nelson Mendela’s funeral? The general consensus, and look on Michelle Obama’s face, was that funerals are not the place to whip out the camera phone.
But this isn’t really about politics. We’ve seen our politicians posting worse selfies than smiles at a funeral. (I still can’t erase those Anthony Weiner images from my mind.) But it seems like we’re transforming what were once selfless acts of remembrance (funerals) and medical research (donating a body to science) into an opportunity to get selfish attention. You want your funeral to be remembered as a way to honor your life, not as a sideshow where some bored attendee you barely knew made it about them. You want your death to be able to help the living, but not if some teen is using your body as a background prop.
With technology being so easy to use and share with millions, this isn’t much of a shock. Teens are looking to outdo one another with craziness of photos, but my concern is that we have become a society that cares more about social admiration than we do about respecting a deceased human. While some may say "What's the big deal?" or brush it off as stupid teenage behavior, I ask: What if this were your father, husband or brother? What if an entire life that mattered so much to you was reduced to a quick gag?
I strongly support donating all or parts of our body at the point when we no longer need them, and no one should feel otherwise because of this story. I've done plenty of research and studying and wholeheartedly believe legitimate medical institutions like University of Alabama treat bodies with the utmost respect. While I feel sorry for the gentleman who was exposed and his family, I hope all future high school trips to their donation center, and all donation centers looking to educate people, immediately start doing what most institutions housing sensitive information and research do: Take away everyone's damn cell phone the moment they arrive and don’t give it back until they’re walking out the door.
Your dog or cat loves you, often more than you can ever love him or her in return. You are that pet’s world. Now imagine if you weren’t around to take care of them anymore and didn’t make arrangements for their care. Unless a friend or family member takes ownership, we’re talking shelters...or worse. (Those stories out of the Sochi Olympics where stray dogs were being shot have made us ill.)
Don’t get sad because there’s something you can do to protect your fluffy companion that’s starting to gain in popularity. It's called a Pet Trust.