Friday, March 8, 2013

The fear of premature burial

Premature burial works just fine as a cure for adolescence.
George Alec Effinger

This is probably more appropriate for Halloween.  I know that Bruce would enjoy the article, since he is a fan of Poe and Lovecraft.

Six feet under
the earth she lies
with dust at her feet
and dust in her eyes.
Sydney King Russell

A Berkshire doctor related the story of another young mother, the wife of an army medical officer stationed in the Tropics, who had suffered a severe heart pain shortly after giving birth. Despite the best efforts of doctors — including, presumably, her husband — she died, or at least appeared to have done.

She was immediately prepared for burial. But the attendants were unable to close her eyelids, so her eyes were open as her children came to pay their last respects.

After they left, the woman’s nurse began stroking the face of her dead mistress. To her amazement she detected the sound of breathing and raised the alarm.

Doctors held a mirror to her mouth but there was no vapour on the mirror and when they opened a vein in each arm, no blood flowed.

They were convinced that the woman was indeed dead, and preparations for her burial continued.

Yet the loyal nurse persisted, applying mustard to her mistress’s feet and waving burnt feathers under her nose in the hope of provoking an instinctive physical reaction.

Finally, this roused the woman from what was a trance.

After her rescue, she said she had been aware that her children had been there saying their goodbyes, and of her coffin being brought in, but felt powerless to speak. She was, it seems, suffering some kind of temporary paralysis as a result of giving birth.

'Similarly, in 1903, a 14-year-old boy was buried in France, having been forcibly removed from his mother who protested that he was not dead. The day after his funeral she was found digging in the earth with her bare hands, trying to reach the coffin. The coffin was duly opened and the boy found inside, his body twisted from trying to break out: he had died from suffocation.'

Intriguingly, there are several cases of dogs saving their masters by barking at the coffin or attacking the pallbearers, forcing them to set the coffin down and open it up to find the occupant alive.

Whether the animals somehow sensed that these unfortunates were still living, we cannot know

Read more:

By mere burial man arrives not at bliss; and in the future life, throughout its whole infinite range, they will seek for happiness as vainly as they sought it here, who seek it in aught else than that which so closely surrounds them here - the Infinite.
Johann Gottlieb Fichte

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You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your informed opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.

Harlan Ellison