- Brazilian Joao Maria de Souza was killed in 2013 when a cow fell through his roof onto him as he slept.
- Clement Vallandigham, a 19th century US lawyer, accidentally shot himself dead while defending a murder suspect – because he was trying to demonstrate that a supposed victim could have accidentally shot himself dead. (It worked, because his client was acquitted.)
- Canadian lawyer Garry Hoy died while trying to prove that the glass in the windows of a 24th floor office was unbreakable, by throwing himself against it. It didn’t break – but it did pop out of its frame and he plunged to his death.
- In 2007 the deputy mayor of Delhi, Surinder Singh Bajwa, died falling off a balcony while trying to fend off a troupe of attacking monkeys.
- Monica Meyer, the mayor of Betterton, Maryland, died while checking her town’s sewage tanks– she fell in and drowned in 15 feet of human waste.
- Sigurd the Mighty, a ninth-century Norse earl of Orkney, was killed by an enemy he had beheaded several hours earlier. He’d tied the man’s head to his horse’s saddle, but while riding home one of its protruding teeth grazed his leg. He died from the infection.
- The owner of the company that makes Segways died in 2010 after accidentally driving his Segway off a cliff.
- Robert Williams, a Ford assembly line worker, is the first human in history to have been killed by a robot. He was hit by a robot arm in 1979.
- In 1923, jockey Frank Hayes won a race at Belmont Park in New York despite being dead— he suffered a heart attack mid-race, but his body stayed in the saddle until his horse crossed the line for a 20–1 outsider victory.
- US congressman Michael F. Farley died in 1921 as a result of shaving– because his shaving brush was infected with anthrax.
- Several people danced themselves to death during the month-long Dance Fever of 1518 in Strasbourg, during which hundreds of people danced for about a month for no clear reason.
- Paul G. Thomas, the owner of a wool mill, fell into one of his machines in 1987 and died after being wrapped in 800 yards of wool.
- Edward Harrison was playing golf in Washington state in 1951 when his driver snapped, and the shaft lodged in his groin. He staggered about 100 yards before bleeding to death.
- In 1900, American physician Jesse William Lazear tried to prove that Yellow Fever was transmitted by mosquitoes by letting infected mosquitoes bite him. He then died of the disease. Proving himself right.
- Russian physician Alexander Bogdanov performed pioneering blood transfusions on himself, believing they would give him long life. They actually killed him after he suffered an adverse reaction.
- Austrian tailor Franz Reichelt thought he’d invented a device that could make men fly. He tested this by jumping off the Eiffel Tower wearing it. It didn’t work. He died.
- In 1567, the man said to have the longest beard in the world died after he tripped over his beard running away from a fire.
- The Greek philosopher Chrysippus of Soli is said to have died of laughter after watching a donkey trying to eat his figs.
- British actor Gareth Jones died of a heart attack while performing in a live televised play in 1958 – in which his character was scripted to have a heart attack. The rest of the cast improvised around his death and finished the play.
- Mary Ward was a pioneering Irish female scientist who is sadly better known as the first person in history to ever be killed in a car accident– while driving with her family in their experimental “road locomotive steam engine”.
- And the first pedestrian ever killed by a car was Bridget Driscoll of Croydon, London, in 1896.
- Carl Wilhelm Scheele was a brilliant Swedish chemist who had an unwise habit of tasting all the chemicals he discovered. He died in 1786 as a result of his exposure to lead, hydrofluoric acid, arsenic and various other poisons.
- Engineer Horace Lawson Hunley pioneered submarine design in the American Civil War – although most of them sank. He died when his final model, named after himself, sank while he was in command of it.
- General John Sedgwick was killed by a sniper in the American Civil War shortly after uttering the words “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”(Contrary to popular belief, though, they weren’t his last words. They were his second-last. His last words were agreeing that dodging was in fact a good idea.)
- Health fanatic Basil Brown managed to kill himself by drinking a gallon of carrot juice a day, in the belief it would make him healthy.
- In 1992, Greg Austin Gingrich died in the Grand Canyon after jokingly pretending to fall to his death, then losing his footing and actually falling to his death.
- Queen Sunanda Kumariratana of Siam (now Thailand) drowned in 1880 in full view of many of her subjects – because they were forbidden to touch her, so couldn’t rescue her.
- The first people ever killed in an air accident were hot air balloon pioneers Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and Pierre Romain, in 1785.
- And the first person ever killed in a powered aeroplane crash was Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge in 1908, in a plane piloted by Orville Wright.
- Twenty-one people died in the Boston Molasses Disaster of 1919, when a massive tank of molasses burst on a warm day, sending a 25ft high wave of sweetener through the city at 35mph.
- And eight people died in the London Beer Flood of 1814, when a giant vat at a brewery burst, sending over 3,500 barrels of beer pouring though the nearby streets.
Golden Charter is our Funeral Plan Provider and below they have some helpful advice about the things you may want to consider before scattering ashes.
In the 50 years between 1960 and 2010, the number of cremations in the UK has more than doubled.
With less than 150 crematoria in the country in 1960, just 204,000 cremations were carried out representing 34% of the deaths recorded that year. Half a century later and with 260 crematoria in the country, 413,000 cremations were carried out, accounting for more than 73% of that year’s deaths.
Estimates suggest that 75% of the deaths in the UK are cremations, with people coming to prefer cremation over burial for a number of reasons. But whether you would choose to be cremated for reasons of cost or from concern for the environment, the one problem unique to cremation is what to do with the ashes.
The easiest way to solve this for your family and friends is to leave detailed instructions on what you want to be done with your ashes. Planning ahead avoids any guessing, or falling out, over what the deceased would have wanted and gives comfort that final wishes are being respected.
Rules and regulations
Deciding what you want done with your ashes is a very personal choice, but there are some things worth considering. You might be the biggest fan of your local football or rugby club, but ashes can only be scattered on the pitch with the club’s permission and it is worth getting that in advance.
The need for permission is true of any private land and even with the landowner’s permission you need to
be careful to avoid water supply or drains. It is possible to scatter ashes in or near water, but with rivers or lakes it is advisable to check if there are any issues of water supply with the local Environment Agency.
On a practical level, if you want your ashes scattered near water, it is also better to avoid places that will be busy with people fishing, sailing or swimming. There are no rules regarding scattering ashes at sea, although inshore it can’t do any harm to let the local Environment Agency know of your plans.
The rules on scattering ashes in the open countryside are generally fairly relaxed, from hills and mountains to country parks and forests. But again, with all popular rural locations, those scattering the ashes will need to choose the spot and time carefully to avoid a very private moment being interrupted.
Choose somewhere accessible
Wherever you decide to scatter your ashes, consider the environment. While human ashes are not toxic, they do contain phosphate which can be harmful to some plants. Mourners should also use biodegradable containers and tributes – plastic flowers are not attractive after a while and can be dangerous to wildlife.
At a sports ground, by a favourite lake or up a hillside, it makes sense to choose somewhere that will remain accessible to your loved ones. Scattering ashes in the garden of your long-term family home may seem like a simple choice, but one day that house may be sold and access for friends and family could become difficult.
There are also no rules that say ashes must be scattered in one place, unless you are a strict Catholic. Most of us have more than one favourite spot and scattering ashes between them can give friends and family a collection of happy places to remember us in. Families that live in different parts of the country may also wish to scatter a portion of the ashes close to them. This means that when they wish to pay their respects, they have somewhere close at hand and can spend time remembering rather than travelling.
We have asked our longest serving suppliers to write a guest blog for us. Like many industries there are companies that never get recognised for the work they do. We would not be able to provide the service we do without the reliability and flexibility we receive from such a great supplier. Thank you to Garry for finding the time to write this.
“We have had the pleasure of supplying Bungard and Sons Ltd for four generations now.
My grandpa had his own one-man business supplying local funeral directors with coffin timber sets and various other funeral supplies, and used to supply Bungards back in the 60’s and 70’s.
He introduced my father to the funeral trade, and after my grandpa retired, my father and myself formed Allsops and we were able to continue supplying them.
At one point we were based only a couple of streets away and they used us as their stock room, so we got to know them pretty well.
There have been times when they have asked us to source a one-off or unusual funeral product for them, whether it be a special coffin interior lining made in our own workshop, or an unusual set of handles for the coffin, and we have always been very happy to do so.
These days we supply funeral directors all over the country, but Bungards are the sort of company we especially like to do business with.
They are, and have always been, the most gentlemanly, friendly and decent folks you could hope to meet. Thoroughly professional, they put their clients before anything else. My father has since retired and my son and daughter have joined me in our business.
They echo my sentiments, which I believe is the same as Bungards – treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself.”
Our next Civil Celebrant we would like you to meet is the very lovely Linda Hodgson
Celebrating Life with stories told from the heart…
Every time I go to meet a family, I go with an open mind and an open heart. I am conscious that I am entering their lives at a very difficult time, as they deal with all the consequences of their loved one’s death, there are so many practical things they have to do, at a time when they are emotionally vulnerable. So for me the most important thing I can do, is to help to ease the burden of preparing the funeral service.
I always greet them with a smile, and if they ask me if I would like a cup of tea, I usually say ‘if you are making one that would be lovely’ and as I explain that I prefer it not too milky ‘builders’ style, quite strong, it breaks the ice, distracts them for a while. Then we sit down together and start to chat.
I believe that everyone has a story to tell, and sharing their loved ones story at the time of their funeral is a way of honouring them and acknowledging their time here on Earth, no matter what their life might have been like, for I honour every single life. Some lives have been filled with adventure, travel, career achievement, family harmony, other lives might seem lonely to the outsider, some may have been filled with the challenges of addiction, or family conflict, I give them all equal attention and care, particularly those that have died in more difficult circumstances, or have left behind a fractured family, my heart goes out to them all. To me it is important to bring some dignity to them, to look for the nuggets of love that were present in their life, I am always amazed at our capacity, as humans, for unconditional love, and in the end that is all that matters and what I look for in everyone’s stories are the moments of love shared.
So when I sit with a family and encourage them to talk about their loved one, sharing in memories, thinking about them when they were well, and living their life, and choosing poems and music for the service, the families tell me that they find it quite cathartic.
Not only do they have a sense of relief that I will be there supporting them through the service, they also feel that the conversation has helped them to remember a time when their loved ones were not ill, or frail, or suffering from dementia, or with their mental health or fighting off cancer, talking openly in this way is just a small step on their long journey, to living their life without that person by their side. Sometimes we shed tears together as they talk about their memories, and the qualities that made their loved one the unique and amazing human that they were.
Some people know exactly what they want to do to say goodbye to their wife, husband, life partner, mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter, granny, grandad, or even distant relative, they write their life story, share their memories, choose all the music, decide that they want to toast them with a tot of Baileys at the end of the service, or release Dove’s to help their soul on their journey, or simply place a flower on the coffin as they leave.
Their stories make us laugh, make us cry, the whole rollercoaster of emotions are experienced during the service. Sometimes family members can stand up and read the life story or a poem.
When families feel that they would not be able to stand up and say anything, and are not sure what to do or how to even start writing a life story, I sit with them and reassure them that I can do it all, and we spend time talking and chatting whilst I write fantastically fast to capture all their memories.
As a Life Celebrant, I will do whatever a family wants to do to celebrate their loved ones life, many people no longer want a full religious service, but still have an underlying faith, so for them I do a semi-religious service, where we sing hymns and say a prayer, as well as share in memories, so it is still life-centred and personalised. Other families want a service that is totally life-centred, with no religious content. Each service I do is created from scratch to ensure it reflects the essence of the person that we are saying goodbye to.
I have been doing Celebrant work for just nearly 3 years now, I always say that I have found my vocation. It is always a pleasure to work with my Funeral Directors, particularly Richard and Ben at Bungard, the care they show to their families, is always heart-warming. I feel privileged every day to be able to help families at such a difficult time, and I am always honoured when they return to me, as many have, but to me the most amazing part of being a Celebrant is witnessing the power of the human spirit, and the capacity for love, forgiveness, and kindness. As I walk my dog down on the beach, I look to the sky and think how lucky I am to be able to see the wonder of our world every day, and be a part of celebrating life’s journey.
Our next Civil Celebrant we would like you to meet is the warm and caring Frances Tulley..
I have lived and worked in Brighton for 28 years although I was born and raised in Croydon and lived in Godstone, Surrey for ten years.
My family and 15-year-old Jack Russell have our home in Fiveways, Brighton.
My previous career was in dental hygiene, where I developed a special interest in working with people to reduce their anxiety and fear of dentistry, and trained others in working with anxious patients. For this, I twice received Dental Hygienist of the Year awards. I also have a Diploma in Holistic Aromatherapy.
I was brought up in a strict Christian family, but for the past 45 years have followed my own spiritual path of respect for our world and for each other. I have a very open approach to people’s beliefs and a philosophy of tolerance.
I have lost both parents, ex-husband, family members and several friends, and have witnessed grief and sadness in different ways. I took an active role in arranging my father’s funeral five years ago; my interest in funerals, and what makes a good funeral, grew from that.
I believe that funerals should be people-centred. There is a growing movement towards families being more ‘hands-on’ and taking an active role in funeral arrangements and creating ceremony. This is a tremendously important part of the grieving process and I actively encourage families to get involved as much as possible. Often, all that is needed is permission; there is no right or wrong way. A little guidance and help from me can go a long way to making a unique, warm and beautiful ceremony.
I qualified as a celebrant in 2015 with a NOCN Level 3 Diploma in Funeral Celebrancy (QCF) and have since carried out around 200 funerals.
I am a member of AOIC, The Association of Independent Celebrants, http://independentcelebrants.com which encourages continuous professional development and provides support and mentoring for celebrants, and am also a member of The Natural Death Centre, which is a charity that carries out excellent work helping people to make informed choices when someone dies.
The Good Funeral Guild fosters a spirit of community among people interested in end-of-life matters and funerals http://goodfuneralguild.co.uk and for the last two years I was privileged to be a finalist in the Celebrant of the Year category at the Good Funeral Awards.
The taboo and fear of talking about death in our society is slowly beginning to change. I hold regular Death Cafes at different locations in Brighton, and recently in Hastings, to encourage people to enter into such discussions, and to start taking control of their own life (and death). If you are interested in coming along I can put you on my mailing list.
This is the most rewarding work I have ever done. It is such a privilege to help people through what can often seem like an impossible hurdle at a time when their world is thrown into chaos and intolerable grief.
If you would like to talk to me about planning any aspects of a funeral please get in touch –
Phone: 01273 248750
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/funeralcelebrantservices
Christmas can be a difficult time of year for those who have experienced the death of a family member, friend, pet or someone close to them. Despite how the saying goes ‘time can be a great healer’ it is often not the case and whether you have said goodbye to someone this year or twenty years ago, Christmas can be a painful reminder of what has been lost.
The grieving process is different for all of us and it is important for you to make arrangements that will help you and your needs during this difficult time. Some people might not want to celebrate Christmas and want to be alone, while others may want to be surrounded by family and friends for support. Whatever you decide best suits your needs and your grieving process it may be helpful to make some plans for you to remember that special person/people. Here are some suggestions:
- Visit a grave or special place of the person that has died.
- Talk to them, out loud or silently (think about what you would say to them if they were here)
- Share memories with others around you or write some memories down and keep them in a jar (‘memory jar’)
- Light a candle for them
It can also be healing to balance the time remembering with some time for you, and if you find joy this Christmas, try to allow yourself to be happy without guilt. Remember, it is okay to be happy – this doesn’t diminish how much you love and miss the person who isn’t with you this Christmas.
Most importantly be kind to yourself and ask for help if you need it. Here are some useful contacts:
24 hour FREE helpline support every day of the year for anyone in distress including those who are feeling suicidal.
T: 116 123
Cruse Bereavement Care
National email support service: email@example.com
National helpline number: 0808 808 1677
Helpline opening hours: Monday – Friday 9.30am – 5pm (excluding bank holidays) with extended hours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to 8pm
Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS)
T: 020 7436 5881
Welcomes calls from anyone affected by a stillbirth or a baby, family, friends or professionals including long after the event
Child Death Helpline
T: 0800 282986
Mon-Fri 1000-1300, Weds only 1300-1600
Every day 1900-2200
Helpline support for anyone affected by the death of a child, irrespective of the age of the child, the relationship or the length of time since the death.
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
T: 0844 561 6855 Lines are open 0900-2100 every day
A self help organisation which exists to meet the needs of those bereaved by the suicide of a family member or anyone close to them.
Please also contact us if you would like to attend our bereavement support coffee mornings or would like to seek specialist bereavement counselling in the new year on the details below. These services are available to all clients of Bungards, please make contact with Bungards for more details.
Festive best wishes
K Counselling rand Psychotherapy
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. ”
Candle at Christmas
Over the next few weeks we will be introducing some of the great Celebrants that we recommend. Catherine Duffy has kindly volunteered to go first.
Catherine Duffy, Sussex Personal Funeral Celebrancy Service.
I’m writing this on Armistice Day which is a significant reminder to me about how and why I became a civil celebrant.
Two years ago, I was still commuting to London every day to work, doing a senior, serious and stressful job in a local authority. I represented the Department for Adults and Children at our Armistice Day event, and remembered, in particular, my nephew-in-law, Flt Lt Alan Scott who had died a couple of months earlier, in Afghanistan. Al was repatriated through Brize Norton, with all the military honours, and his funeral was beautiful; a mix of the intense formality of the armed forces and the colour, love and personal touches that my niece wanted, for us all to remember her husband in the different facets of his life. I had found Lisa a celebrant who negotiated a path through the RAF expectations and those of the family beautifully, with touches of religion for those to whom faith mattered, but respecting the views and values of Alan and Lisa, who did not hold any faith. I was impressed and slightly in awe with the work that she did.
Fast forward a couple of months, and the senior, serious and stressful job ended, and I knew immediately that I wanted to be a celebrant; to be involved so intimately and gently powerfully at a time when people are so very sad, hurt and vulnerable. I identified the best training I could, and later gained my Diploma in Funeral Celebrancy.
What a privilege the last fifteen months have been – and what learning I have gained from every individual person and every family I have worked with in each of their unique situations. I have helped well over 120 families, mostly through my contact with excellent funeral directors such as Bungards, and some directly from people who have been at a funeral I have been celebrant at, and others from people from my wide circle of family and friends. Each is so unique, so personal.
People can and do expect different things from funerals these days – from the traditional to the outrageously joyful – and I love being in a position to help people who are trying to think through the options at the hardest time to make decisions, and to help them to create the unique story of the person who has died, in the way that feels ‘right’ to the family.
Death happens to us all, as we know, but few of us are privileged to be in the company of bereaved people so uniquely, and to hear the human stories behind family lives, and deaths. I am humbled and grateful that I am able to do this; to be able to tell the stories, to share in the music and poetry and readings that form the backdrop to individual, unique, personal lives.
An obituary, from the Latin ‘Obitus’ meaning ‘Death’, is traditionally a newspaper article reporting the passing of someone of note. In national and regional newspapers, obituaries are most often written for celebrities, politicians and other leading public figures.
Modern obituaries focus on the lives lived by the deceased, listing the highlights of their lifetime and marking their accomplishments, often closing with the briefest description of the subject’s passing. But in the 19th century, obituary writers did not spare their readers from the gruesome details of the death being described. The New York Times’ obit for President Theodore Roosevelt is said to have included a vivid description of how he was killed by blood clots.
Modern newspapers and TV companies often prepare obituaries well in advance of the death of public figures, allowing them to publish highly detailed memorials very quickly after a death is first reported. The LA Times’ obituary for actress Elizabeth Taylor was initially written over a decade before she died in 2011.
The art of the obituary
Being prepared for the inevitable may make for efficient publishing but it has its risks; the day Prince Philip retired the Telegraph inadvertently published a holding page reporting The Duke of Edinburgh’s death.
This mishap aside, The Telegraph’s obituary column is famous for pioneering a new style of reporting the deaths, and lives, of some of the most famous people in the UK. The newspaper has made such an artform of the memorial notice that it has published a series of books that collect together the best of the paper’s obituary columns.
In a recent article about the daily obituary page, its editor Andrew M. Brown explains that the section was introduced in the mid 80s , “to refresh and subvert the obituary’s traditionally stolid form by producing vivid, colourful, funny and truthful mini-biographies.”
According to Mr Brown, the Telegraph, joined by the Independent, began to publish obituaries for people who might not have been thought worthy of such treatment before. He says these have included cattle breeders, gun makers, graffiti artists and puppeteers.
Memorials from friends and family
As well as providing a memorial for someone deceased and an insight into their life, an obituary can be a good way to tell people about a recent death and share details of funeral services. In smaller local papers, friends and family often pay to place an obituary for a loved one who has passed.
Obituaries differ from more straightforward death notices in that, alongside details of the death and possibly information about the funeral service, they will also say something about the life of the deceased.
Like preparing a eulogy, writing an obituary for a loved one takes some thought. While announcing the death and personal details in an obituary – time and place of death, age, area – it should also include biographical information about the person who has died, spanning their life from birth, through education, marriage, work and retirement.
The difficult part is including relevant information without becoming boring. Avoiding chronological lists and including personal anecdotes helps. Tributes from friends and family can also be included, but less is often more with a few well-chosen words of affection counting for more than long, gushing memorials.
Thursday 15th June 2017 @ 11.00am – 12.00noon
We then plan to have a meetup four times a year with these dates as the next three planned for the next 12months.
Wednesday 13th September 2017 at10.30am – 11.30am
Wednesday 6th December 2017 at 10.30am – 11.30am
Wednesday 7th March 2018 at 10.30am – 11.30am
The coffee mornings will take place upstairs at “The Hive Café & Community Centre” in Stoneham Park Stoneham Road, Hove, East Sussex, BN3 3FD.
We hope that these events will help you meet others who have been bereaved and provide support to each other by offering company, chats and hopefully a little fun and laughter over cake and tea/coffee all on us!
We hope you will be able to support us as we start this new aspect of our aftercare and if there is anything else we can do to be of assistance or if you have any questions then please do give me a call.
I am a qualified humanistic psychotherapeutic counsellor in Brighton and Hove.
I understand how extremely difficult, painful and stressful life can be and it can be a hard job to try and manage things on our own. I appreciate that living with daily pressures can mean we can feel lost and lose direction of what we want from life. You may be seeking counselling to talk about the daily struggles in your life, or to gain support with a specific issue such as bereavement or relationship issues. Whatever your reason, I believe that sharing your emotions and feelings freely within an empathic and therapeutic relationship can be incredibly healing.
I aim to provide you with a safe and confidential space where you can explore what may be bothering you and have a chance to express your thoughts and feelings.
My approach is humanistic and I believe that we all have the ability to make the right choices and decisions for ourselves. I will encourage you to trust in your own process, and work with you to identify your inner resources in order for you to re-gain a sense of freedom and direction.
We are looking forward to working with Kristina and together growing the aftercare service that we provide. Kristina will be helping us roll out a series of coffee mornings and luncheons over the next few months for the recently bereaved.