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Playlist: Death

Compiled By: 2 below zero


We created a documentary about the environmental consequences of death called "Death's Footprint," so we looked around PRX for some other death-related stories, commentaries and documentaries. We found a nice little mix of selections, including pieces on Hmong and Jewish funerals, the portrayal of death in Disney cartoons and few other cool finds.

Death's Footprint

From Todd Melby | 27:51

A documentary exploring the environmental consequences of traditional funeral and burial practices.

Graveyard3small_small Cemeteries take up thousands of acres of open space. Funeral homes use gallons of toxic chemicals a year. And cremation consumes lots of energy and emits toxins into the environment. Today, many Americans are looking for ways that make their deaths greener. But change is coming slowly. The way we practice death has deep cultural and religious traditions.

Disney Death

From Jake Warga | 07:47

Walt Disney's use of death in his films

Disney Death
Jake Warga

Thumbbambi_small A look at how Disney shaped a generation's cultural framework for understanding one of life's greates mysteries. Bambi, Old Yeller...BANG! 7:45 final edit. 5:30 broadcast edit at: http://www.wnyc.org/studio360/show112004.html

Honoring the Body: Taharah

From Rebecca Sheir | Part of the The End As Beginning: An Audio Exploration of the Jewish View of Death series | 15:45

Leaving the world as we entered it... but with a twist.

Taharah_small Jewish burial rituals and beliefs place great importance on treating the deceased with the utmost honor and respect. This is especially important during the "taharah," a ritual involving the physical cleansing of the dead body. In this documentary -- winner of the 2006 Third Coast International Audio Festival Directors' Choice award -- three people who have taken part in taharah share their experiences. In addition to taking us through the steps of this intricate ceremony, they offer their personal views and insights on how taharah encouraged them to confront their own mortality and grapple with the existential questions of life and death.

Hmong Funerals

From Wisconsin Public Radio | 07:51

The tradition of Hmong Funerals as carried out in America (PRX Reversioning)

Hmgfnrl01_small For the thousands of Hmong immigrants who've settled in the United States, life is now a series of challenges and adjustments. Many of them are struggling to preserve their customs from southeast Asia. For most elderly Hmong, this includes the complex and lengthy funeral ceremony designed to guide their souls back to the ancestral homeland. But many obstacles -- from American funeral codes to the standard work schedule -- have forced compromise on this tradition. In this 8-minute piece, Brian Bull summarizes one such effort that took place at St. Paul's Hmong Funeral home for one of the community's elders, Ying Xiong. With many compelling passages of natural sound and direct, candid interviews with relatives, the four-day ceremony is presented in its elaborate, but heartfelt splendor.

My Sister's Brain Cancer

From Nanci Olesen | 04:23

a commentary by Nanci Olesen about her sister's brain cancer

Nancissisternancismomnanci_small Commentator Nanci Olesen's sister has had brain cancer for 16 months. Is it true that the way we know someone is by the way their brain works? And when it doesn't work the way it used to, where's the person? suggested host lead: Ted Kennedy's brain cancer has brought attention to the treatment of malignant brain tumors. Commentator Nanci Olesen's sister has had brain cancer for sixteen months. Her blood counts are low, which has been stalling chemo treatments. As they wait for news about what treatments might be tried next, Olesen realizes how much of her sister she has already lost.

How Do We Face Our Own Mortality?

From SoundVision Productions | Part of the The Really Big Questions series | 53:29

Death is a fact of life, an absolute and unavoidable certainty. And yet, death often comes as a shock, as if unexpected. Why?

Death_square-trbq2_small Because, contrary to all human experience, we just don’t want to believe death will happen to us. A growing body of evidence suggests that the fear of death influences how we vote, shop, and even how we judge our mothers. Does the fear of death shape how we live? NPR’s Lynn Neary poses these questions to leading researchers in an engaging conversation about how we handle life and death.
The broadcast window for the series is October 15, 2009 - March 31, 2010. Go deeper http://www.stations.trbq.org
Station Contact: Ms Stevie Beck, stevie@SchardtMEDIA.org 612.825.6363

He'll Always Get the Last Word In

From Salt Institute for Documentary Studies | 05:31

Paul DiMatteo is the last in a long line of gravestone carvers.

Default-piece-image-1 In 1919 his grandfather founded Maine Memorial Company in South Portland and the business has been in the family ever since.  Paul used to be a banker, and both he and his father never had any desire for him to take over the business.  But eventually Paul decided he needed a change and left the banking world behind to pick up his tools and begin carving.  Today he sees himself as an artist, transforming people’s memories of their loved ones into portraits on stone.