November 16, 2011



I love the New York Times. Just a few years ago when the paper’s future was seriously in question I said to a friend “I couldn’t live without the NY Times.” She mistook my passion for melodrama. To my sustainably inclined husband’s chagrin I insist that we receive the print version daily. My computer’s opening page is Okay, I’m a junkie.

Regardless if I die of natural causes, or because of grief for the now unlikely passing of the paper, the NY Times wouldn’t cover my death. Well, maybe when my book finds a publisher, and we break new ground in death consciousness. Well, maybe, but only if they review the book or interview me. A retired New York Times obituary writer informed me that there is very little chance of having your obit appear in the publication, if they didn’t cover you in life.

This editorial protocol is felt deeply in the obituary coverage at the paper. Of the 36 New York Times Read the rest of this entry »

November 13, 2011

The face of it


For the first time in my recent memory, The New York Times has published a photo of a corpse of a person who died of natural causes. The paper frequently posts images of the dead taken by war or disaster. Here the body (photographed by Librado Romero), laid out in a coffin, is surprisingly intense, as is the story of the dead woman, Noemi Rivera and her husband Edwin Morales.

Memento Mori was common in Victorian era. The dead were posed and photographed. The treasured images were hung in the parlor. As our culture embraced modern medicine, we moved out of the home into the hospital to die. Our experience with death became removed from daily life, and we became less comfortable with impermanence. In fact, some find it vulgar. One New York Times reader posted the comment “This is a beautiful love story. The photograph is in very poor taste.”

How does it feel to you to look death in the face?

July 15, 2011



At the recent memorial service of our family friend David, his friends had a lot to say. And they said it in his words. Speaking from over 5000 saved emails, text messages and fb posts, his soul was revealed. This archiving was powerful, both provocative and revealing.

I frequently instruct my kids that every word they write, and text is permanent. I do this to allay a false sense of privacy, to protect them Read the rest of this entry »