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death

Katrina Spade (orange hat) of the Urban Death Project works with student volunteers to prepare a mulch pile at the Western Carolina University Forensic Osteology Research Center. (Tap on this image for more photos of the burial)
KUOW Photo/Ashley Ahearn

I was about 12 years old when my great aunt Gilda died.


Updated at 11:45 a.m. Friday

Associate Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman to be appointed to New York's Court of Appeals, was found dead on Wednesday in the Hudson River.

She had been reported missing from her home in Harlem.

The New York Times reports:

George Saunders at KUOW 2/28/17
Ross Reynolds

What happens when we die? Writer George Saunders speculates on what happens to Abraham Lincoln’s young son Willie when he dies in his first novel "Lincoln in the Bardo." Most of the book takes place in a cemetery and is described as having the ambience of Hieronymous Bosch and Tim Burton.

Author Helen Macdonald at Benaroya Hall
Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

In her acclaimed memoir "H Is for Hawk," author Helen Macdonald reflects on the shock and depression she experienced at the unexpected death of her father. The two had a close bond, marked by their mutual fascination with nature.

Thrown by her loss and struggling with depression Macdonald, an experienced falconer, chose to train a notoriously difficult-to-handle raptor, a Northern Goshawk. She called her Mabel.

This story is part one of a two-part investigation. Read part two here.

Ellen Bethea sat alongside her husband's hospital bed after doctors told her that Archie, the man she had been married to for almost five decades, wouldn't make it.

"As soon as everybody else was asleep and I was sitting there with him, he passed on," she remembers. "So I think he kind of waited for me to be with him."

Desmond Tutu, South Africa's former Anglican archbishop and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, recently celebrated his 85th birthday with an interesting message: He wants the option of an assisted death.

Linda Dahlstrom Anderson with her son Phoenix on Father's Day
Courtesy of Linda Dahlstrom Anderson

Bill Radke talks to Linda Dahlstrom Anderson, a Seattle journalist and editor at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, about how Bruce Lee's grave at Lake View Cemetery in Seattle helped her come to terms with the loss of her 7-month-old son Phoenix. 

Is It Possible To Die Of Grief?

Dec 29, 2016

The actress Debbie Reynolds' death just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died has led some to speculate that grief from the loss might have been a contributing factor. There was similar speculation when actress Brittany Murphy's husband, Simon Monjack, was found dead at just 39, several months after the sudden death of his wife.

Suzanne Gwynn
YouTube

Jeannie Yandel speaks with Suzanne Gwynn about her idea to create the Ladybug House. Gwynn has been a nurse for 33 years, working mostly with children here in Seattle. She says hospitals do a great job at providing medicine and treatment. But for terminally ill kids, there comes a time when medicine can no longer help. And for a long time, Gwynn had an idea to make end of life care for kids better: a hospice just for them and their families.

'Week in Review' panelists Bill Radke, Knute Berger, Joni Balter and Eli Sanders.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

It is the last Week In Review before election day. We’ll be talking about the tightening polls and what local races to watch for on election night.

Also Vancouver has been dealing with an affordable housing crisis. They decided to put a tax on foreign buyers as a way to cool the housing market, and it’s working. But where will those buyers go? And should Seattle consider something similar?

Katrina Spade of the Urban Death Project.
Courtesy of Urban Death Project/Rania Spade

Bill Radke speaks with Katrina Spade, founder and director of the Urban Death Project, about the system she designed to compost human remains. She plans to test the system at Washington State University soon. 

A view of the Pike Place Market in July 1919.
Seattle Municipal Archives

Pike Place is haunted by the ghosts of children.

Mercedes Carrabba is a second generation vendor at Pike Place. She says the nine acre Pike Place district “is the most haunted location in the city, if not possibly the state.”

For some, death isn’t spooky or scary like Halloween. Hispanic families across the Northwest are preparing to celebrate the Day of the Dead.

Kathy Plonka - kathypl@spokesman.com / Tacoma News Tribune

Bill Radke speaks with Tacoma News Tribune columnist Matt Driscoll about the sad story of Tacoma kindergarten teacher Klara Bowman, who became infamous as 'Drunk Teacher.' 

Last spring everything changed for Denver resident Matt Larson.

"One day I was fine," says Larson. "The next I was being rushed by ambulance to Denver Health following two very massive and violent seizures."

The force of the seizures, from the sheer shaking, fractured and dislocated his shoulders and snapped two bones in his back. Soon his providers had life-altering test results.

"They came back and shut the door and said 'you have mass on your brain,' which was tough to hear," says Larson.

A Winchester Safes representative sets the lock on one of several gun safes on display at the 35th annual SHOT Show, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, in Las Vegas.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Kim Malcolm talks with Dr. Joseph Simonetti about the public health implications of safe firearm storage. His research finds that adolescents with risk factors for suicide are often easily able to access guns in their homes. Simonetti is Instructor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Denver.

Bill Radke talks to Nina Cesare, University of Washington sociology doctoral student, about the study she co-authored with fellow doctoral student Jennifer Brandstad that explored the way people discuss death on Twitter and how that changes the conversation around death. 

Execution Halted For Jeff Wood, Who Never Killed Anyone

Aug 19, 2016

From the Texas Tribune:

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has halted the execution of Jeff Wood — a man who never killed anyone — six days before he was set to die by lethal injection.

Cynthia Beal was looking for a new thing. It was 2004. She’d just sold her successful natural foods grocery store in Eugene and wondered what venture she should embark upon next.

“I thought to myself, what is gonna happen to our bodies when we die? What do we do? How to we dispose of ourselves? What do we do with us? That was just a fascinating question,” she says.

We hear a lot about the size of a person's carbon footprint — how much they use electricity, drive a car, fly on airplanes.

In India, some people are trying to shrink the carbon footprints of the dead.

At least 20 times a day, Braj Kishore Pandey sings a mantra as he lays a human body on a pile of firewood to burn. "There is a request from god for the freedom for the release of the soul, and also for the happiness for the family," he says.

The first death was on the night of Jan. 9.

It was a Saturday. Pele Kristiansen spent the morning at home, drinking beers and hanging out with his older brother, which wasn't so unusual. There wasn't a lot of work in town. A lot of people drank. In the afternoon, they heard someone banging on their door, yelling.

"Polar bear! It's a polar bear!"

On the frozen fjord a couple of miles away, they could see the bear. Hunting in the Arctic — bears and reindeer and seals and birds — is at the core of Inuit life, even today.

Doctors know it's important to talk with their patients about end-of-life care.

But they're finding it tough to start those conversations. When they do, they're not sure what to say, according to a national poll released Thursday.

Earlier this year, when her father was in the final stages of lung and liver cancer, Eva Vega-Olds spoke to him for the final time. Leonardo Vega, 73, had been in hospice care at his home in New Jersey, so weak that he could barely muster the strength to answer his daughter's questions.

But still, Eva asked them — and took the opportunity to tell her father what he meant to her. And she recorded the conversation for StoryCorps, using her smartphone.

On the drive to Fairview Cemetery in the Boston neighborhood of Hyde Park, six seniors from Roxbury Latin boys' school sit in silent reflection. Mike Pojman, the school's assistant headmaster and senior adviser, says the trip is a massive contrast to the rest of their school day, and to their lives as a whole right now.

Today the teens have volunteered to be pallbearers for a man who died alone in September, and for whom no next of kin was found. He's being buried in a grave with no tombstone, in a city cemetery.

Are hospitals doing everything they should to make sure they don't make mistakes when declaring patients brain-dead? A provocative study finds that hospital policies for determining brain death are surprisingly inconsistent and that many have failed to fully implement guidelines designed to minimize errors.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET.

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation Monday, allowing terminally ill patients to obtain lethal medication to end their lives when and where they choose.

In a deeply personal note, Brown said he read opposition materials carefully, but in the end was left to reflect on what he would want in the face of his own death.

Jonathan Bartels is a nurse working in emergency care. He says witnessing death over and over again takes a toll on trauma workers — they can become numb or burned out.

But about two years ago, after Bartels and his team at the University of Virginia Medical Center, in Charlottesville, Va., tried and failed to resuscitate a patient, something happened.

"We had worked on this patient for hours, and the chaplain came in and kind of stopped everyone from leaving the room," Bartels recalls.

Penguin Random House

It's the time of year when many of us look to relax with a good book in a pleasant spot, away from the usual chatter of life, a time when Town Hall takes a month off for goodness sake, for a well-earned break and to avoid overheating its guests. It's usually not a time we're thinking about death.

Recognizing they lacked votes in a key Assembly committee, authors of legislation that would have allowed terminally ill Californians to legally end their lives pulled the bill Tuesday morning.

When Jennifer Glass goes to Sacramento on Tuesday to deliver testimony in favor of the California End-of-Life-Options Act, the trip will require some complex logistics.

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