• The Adventures of Momento Mori

    Adventures of Momento Mori

    Meg, here. There’re some new death kids on the block, and they aaiight. The Adventures of Momento Mori launched about a month ago at the…

  • Freezing Yourself like Time in a Bottle

    Cryogenic Preservation Is Changing What It Means to Be Dead
    If you could freeze yourself until a future age, are you sure you’d want to?
    Judith Shulevitz, The New Republic (July 27, 2014)

    Good article in The New Republic on the uses (and abuses) of extreme cold technology for the nearly dead, almost dead, and very certainly completely dead.

    Just remember: cryopreserving yourself for the future may one day be feasible (maybe), but is it desirable?

    That’s the question.

    Besides, the actor Timothy Hutton can only defend the rights of one defrosted humanoid during his lifetime.

    Cryogenic Preservation Is Changing What It Means to Be Dead If you could freeze yourself until a future age, are you sure you’d want to?…

  • Day 24: How Praying Really Hard and Grave Sucking Might Help Raise the Dead

    Directed by Johnny Clark (October 04, 2013)


    Evangelical Christians want access to more corpses … to hone their ‘raising the dead’ skills

    Barry Duke, The Freethinker (March 10, 2014)


    The people who believe in medical miracles
    BBC News Magazine (March 10, 2014)


    What is Grave Sucking?
    Michael Boehm, Youth Apologetics Training (February 12, 2014)
    Helping teens understand and defend Christianity. Helping parents train up their young in the faith.

    Last February and March I started collecting information on Evangelical Christian groups that believe in the power of prayer to resurrect the dead. It’s not an entirely new idea for Christianity (e.g. Jesus) but its supporters have ebbed and flowed over the centuries.

    One of the new groups that’s involved is called the Dead Raising Team.

    Filmmaker Johnny Clark made a documentary about the Dead Raising Team and you can watch the doc’s trailer at the top of the page.

    Slightly before I came across the Dead Raising Team, I encountered a somewhat connected but different practice called Grave Sucking. Michael Boehm, writing for the pro-Christian Youth Apologetics blog, explains that:

    Grave sucking or mantle grabbing is the belief and practice of pulling the supposed Holy Spirit powers from the dead bones of a previously empowered believer.

    Not much else to say, really.

    It’s worth noting, I think, that Boehm doesn’t support Grave Sucking and thinks that it’s, um, impractical.

    Then again, ‘miracles’ do happen. Just last February a man was declared dead in Mississippi only to wake up inside a body bag. This could also be a case of a less-than-rigorous end of life medical exam.

    Deadraiser Directed by Johnny Clark (October 04, 2013)   Evangelical Christians want access to more corpses … to hone their ‘raising the dead’ skills Barry…

  • 31 Days of Death: Happy Fifth Birthday Death Reference Desk

    Five years.

    It was five years ago this summer that Kim Anderson, Meg Holle, and I (John Troyer) started the Death Reference Desk.

    And to celebrate this major achievement (in internet years) we present the fancy new Death Reference Desk website!

    In case anyone doubts our origins, here is the almost-very-first post by Meg on June 07, 2009 about funeral business stories on the This American Life radio programme:

    TAL: Business of Death

    The very very first post also occurred on June 07, 2009 but the links in the post are all broken and dead. Remember– five years(!) is a long time for the interwebs.

    None of us had any idea that we would make it to year five. Indeed, this entire adventure started as a series of e-mail messages that Kim and I exchanged about wanting to start some kind of new website to discuss death, dying, and the dead body but in an interesting and compelling way that didn’t automatically revert to wacky funerals and lame puns.

    Very quickly, however, Kim and I realised that we didn’t know anything about creating anything online so I e-mailed Meg who did and who also studied death. She said sure.

    And that, dear Death Reference Desk friends, is how we made it to five years.

    Sure sure we’ve had our collective ups and downs. Each of us has moved, loved, lost, laboured, felt guilty and then not guilty about not posting enough on the website. It’s just so easy (SO EASY) to use Facebook and Twitter….

    Oddly enough, the three of use have never actually been together in the same room at the same time during the last five years. Not once. But the internet being the internet and death being death, it didn’t really matter.

    Most disastrously for Death Ref, I unwittingly developed some naughty web posting habits that really irked Google and suddenly in 2012 ye olde Death Reference Desk stopped showing up in search results.

    Thankfully Meg has swooped in and is fixing those issues while we continue to revamp and play with our fresh and minty new website.

    We heart you Google!

    In order to celebrate both the new website design and our first five years I am going to try something that I have always wanted to do with the Death Reference Desk.

    For the next 31 Days, I will post at least one news story, thought, image, or idea each day on the website to demonstrate a key part of my own Centre for Death and Society research: we Humans are surrounded by death every single day. Not a day goes by where we don’t see/hear/smell something about death.

    I will also use these 31 Days to flag up some of my favourite previous Death Reference Desk posts and try some other content ideas that I’ve never gotten to.

    It’s important, I think, to challenge the conventional wisdom that describes death as a taboo and socially repressed topic. If Death Ref has demonstrated anything, it’s that both of these ideas are incorrect.

    Museum of Morbid Anatomy

    The next 31 Days will also be used for my own shameless self-promotion as I prepare to be the Morbid Anatomy Museum’s Scholar in Residence during the month of August. I will be giving a series of lectures, curating film screenings, and running field trips during the Residency.

    The Morbid Anatomy Museum, as many of you may know, is in Brooklyn, New York and I already know how jealous everyone will be that I get to spend AUGUST in NEW YORK. I am already predicting daily experiences with aromatic summertime organic flesh decomposition.

    A final big thanks to all of the Death Reference Desk’s readers. We’ve gotten many amazing (and, um, sometimes slightly creepy) e-mail messages over the years and we love it. All of it. All of you.

    Especially from all of those kids writing High School or College essays on death who found Death Ref while pulling an all nighter and realised that Meg, Kim, and I saved them from complete and total failure.

    We got your backs kids.

    Onwards to the next five years.

    Yours in Death.

    — John, Kim, and Meg

    Five years. It was five years ago this summer that Kim Anderson, Meg Holle, and I (John Troyer) started the Death Reference Desk. And to…

  • Cryopreserve Me into the FUTURE!

    In Pictures: Frozen in Time Photographer Murray Ballard catalogues the world of cryonics, which involves freezing a dead person’s body in liquid nitrogen until technology…

  • Head of the Household

    There was an interesting article in last Sunday’s NY Times Magazine about cryonics; or more to the point, cryonocists and the people who love them….

  • TAL: Trouble Bridge Over Water

    This American Life: The Bridge originally aired May 7, 2010 Act One, Bridge Over Troubled Water We posted last December about the Cliffs of Tojimbo…

  • Mr. Freeze

    The January 25 issue of the New Yorker features an amusing article about cryopreservation of bodies, a.k.a. cryogenics or cryonics. The article doesn’t so much…

  • Death Meets Corporate Retreat in South Korea

    South Koreans Experience What It’s Like to Die — and Live Again John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times (January 4, 2010) For $25 a client,…

  • Dead Man Walking….Into His Own Funeral

    Dead wrong: Man attends own funeral after mix-up over body’s ID On the holiday known as the Day of the Dead, a Brazilian bricklayer walked…

  • Research of Near Death Experiences May Improve Resuscitation

    Questions and Answers about Moment of Death: AWARE Project Uses Technology to Investigate “Out-of-Body Experiences” Today &#8211 MSNBC.com (September 28, 2009) Visit msnbc.com for Breaking…

  • Better Living Through Not Dying: Cryonic / Belief Suspension

    This American Life: Mistakes Were Made originally aired April 18, 2008. This American Life does it again. “Mistakes Were Made” looks at the rise and…