Guest Blogger

Many of the most successful blogs have an element in common: a diverse voice. Blogs partly came about, after all, from a desire for an interactive way to get information and to have a community of people participating in the discussions.

The Death with Dignity movement appeals to people from all walks of life, and we'd like your help in expanding our community. Interested in adding your voice to the Death with Dignity movement?

To have your piece considered for our blog, Living with Dying:

  • You must be a Death with Dignity National Center supporter.
  • Send your Death with Dignity-related article (700-1,000 words) to me via email.
  • Once your post is up, convince your friends and family to read it.

We look forward to reading your work.

Russian Funerals: Black Bread and Vodka

Funeral for Mikhail Kalashnikov

Irina Jordan was born and raised in Russia and moved to the US when she was 22 years old. She's the owner of Artisurn—online marketplace of handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes. Connector. Optimist. Avid reader.

If you caught some of the funeral coverage of the famous Russian weapons designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, you may have wondered how funerals in Russia might be different from those in your country. There are quite a few similarities but also some unique differences thanks to Russia's rich historical heritage and culture interlaced with superstitions.

During the time of the Soviet Union (1917-1991), state funerals of the most senior political and military leaders were staged as massive events with millions of mourners all over the USSR. The ceremonies held after the deaths of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and other General Secretaries followed the same process. They took place in Moscow where they began with a public viewing of the deceased in the House of the Unions and ended with an interment at the Red Square.

Read more: Russian Funerals: Black Bread and Vodka

Dying to Give Back to the Earth

Greensprings is located in New York's Finger Lakes region

Hunter Marshall is a hospice nurse, advocate for the right of Death with Dignity, and environmental activist from the Pacific Northwest. This article was originally published on Waging Nonviolence and appears here courtesy of a Creative Commons license.

I met with Jean shortly after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As I approached her home for the first time, I was greeted by voluminous blue barrels at the bases of the gutters collecting rainwater from a passing storm. An attached hose snaked outwards towards a garden burgeoning into spring. She welcomed me inside with a warm smile that offset the cool air in her minimally-heated home. As a visiting nurse, I actively observe patients' homes with an eye towards safety and functionality. Jean's home, outside and in, was a testament to the more than 50 years she spent as an environmental activist.

Displaying a subtle yet undeniable eccentricity so common in activists, she served sparkling cider in champagne glasses while we discussed her end-of-life arrangements. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to die just as she had lived: green. So after a life of environmental stewardship, she was met with the daunting task of choosing how to most sustainably return her body to the earth.

Read more: Dying to Give Back to the Earth

Honor Your Loved Ones by Facing Your Fears and Pursuing Your Passions

Irina Jordan

Irina Jordan is the owner of Artisurn—online marketplace of handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes. Connector. Optimist. Avid reader.

I got the dreaded call in the middle of the night; my mom told me my brother was a victim of a burglary in his apartment. He was only 22 years old. Since then, I've been haunted by memories of him and our times together.

He was a headstrong and charismatic guy who knew how to persuade others—including me—to do what he wanted and believed in: good and bad. He would've made an excellent leader in any professional field.

Memories, both bitter and sweet, tend to sneak up on me at unexpected moments and leave me turning them over and over in my mind. I have a Russian artist's seascape painting from my brother's apartment hanging in my house and it's a constant and symbolic reminder of my own mortality. My brother lived his life to the fullest, and to honor it, I've been on a quest to face my fears and pursue my passions.

Read more: Honor Your Loved Ones by Facing Your Fears and Pursuing Your Passions

Demystifying Death for a Child

Stacey and her family at Race for the Cure

Stacey Tinianov is a caffeine-powered working mama and shiny object follower, runner, suburban environmentalist, cyclist, breast cancer ass-kicker, and empowered patient advocate. Follow her on Twitter, @CoffeeMommy.

Three years ago, the idea of choosing death over life was a completely foreign concept to me. And then my 85-year old grandmother had a massive stroke on the day of my son's 9th birthday party.

Within 12 hours, I was on a plane to Texas and not long after I was in the ICU holding her hand. She was lucid but completely paralyzed on one side. She tried to talk but she was hard to understand. She was irritated to be stuck in a bed and didn't seem to understand half her body wasn't working. She would pump her leg and arm as if she were running to prove she did indeed have body control.

With the combination of her spunk, the support of her family gathered around her bedside and the excellent care she was receiving in the hospital, we all thought—assumed—she'd recover.

Then, she failed her swallow test. And we watched her lose her will to live.

Read more: Demystifying Death for a Child

Dealing with the Digital Remains of the Dead

Digital Remains

Damien McCallig is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Law, National University of Ireland, Galway and an Irish Research Council postgraduate scholar. His research, titled The Law of Digital Remains: Reconciling the dignity and interests of the deceased with those of the living, aims to provide a theoretical, philosophical and practical framework for developing an appropriate regulatory regime for digital remains aimed at reconciling the rights and interests of the deceased with those of living stake-holders. Follow him on Twitter at @DamienMcC_dli.

What happens to email accounts, social network profiles and other digital remains after the account holder dies? As people's lives become even more entwined with digital media, access to and control over the digital accounts and related content of deceased persons has taken on greater significance.

Some of these accounts may have economic value depending on their use, the status of the account holder while alive, or the type of account in question. For example, players of massive multiplayer online games can amass significant digital assets through virtual property or virtual currency, which often are traded for monetary value offline.

Read more: Dealing with the Digital Remains of the Dead

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