While statistics provide for convenient generalization and categorization, we know that every death is an individual story, and that certainly, even when a common cause takes another victim, the specific circumstances vary. Other times, the entire situation is extraordinary. Death has certainly been subject to a great deal of urban folklore, stories passed from person to person that may or may not be true. You may be familiar with some of them, such as the one about people waking up in bathtubs with a kidney missing. Inquisitive Internet users investigate and often fail to find anything that would substantiate myth.
Fact or Fiction?
Here are some things, popular and obscure, you may have heard. And the truth.
Individual stories can be incredibly interesting. Consider this small tidbit from the San Diego Union-Tribune of August 17, 1998, page A3.
A man who has terminal lung cancer did not want to miss all the tributes after his death, so he held his own memorial service.
More than 200 friends, children and grandchildren attended a potluck celebration Saturday for E.B. Sugars of Santa Rosa. The event - complete with a brass band - seemed like a roast or a community picnic, except that the guest of honor sat in a wheelchair while breathing from a portable oxygen tank.
The 66-year-old former high school English teacher has about two months to live. He said he organized the memorial because he wanted to tell his friends and relatives he loved them and not to be afraid of death.
In our methods of death, too, we are unique. We can die in wars on urban battlefields or on foreign soil. We can succumb to one of the countles natural and artifical poisons. We can die from complications of a trivial event, or simply from aging.
Another example, this time from Reuters:
A driver killed a cyclist and injured another after she took her eye off the road trying to save her Tamagotchi virtual pet, police said yesterday.
The 27-year-old woman became distracted when the electronic pet, which was attached to her car key ring, started to send out distress signals.
She asked a companion in her car to attend to the Tamagotchi but in the confusion she failed to notice a group of cyclists on the road ahead and slammed into the back of them. One died instantly and another was taken to the hospital.
Police said the woman was arrested after Sunday's accident near the southern city of Marseille. A magistrate was investigating whether charges should be brought.
Tamagotchi virtual pets, egg-shaped devices invented in Japan, have become a worlwide fad. They send out electronic bleeps when they need "feeding" or "cleaning." If they are not looked after they "die" or "run away."