Author Archives: Mallika Manyapu


As an EMT volunteer for Emergency Medical Services, I have learned much about preparation for catastrophes, what we call multiple casualty incidents (MCIs). Just the other day, we worked together with the the fire department, hazardous material unit, county ambulance services, and police for a MCI simulation where we more or less practiced working in an unexpected catastrophe, natural and manmade. These simulations are as real as they can be with “‘blood, guts, and galore”, screaming people, chaos and more. I have participated in a variety of simulations as a patient, medic, and observer. When we first come onto an incident, it is our job to save as many people as we can, but to not waste time with people who require more than the basic care. Triaging is classifying people as green, yellow, red, and black. As a medic, the hardest thing to deal with in these situations is triaging someone black because black means death or dying. In mass catastrophes, this could mean that someone is still alive, but won’t make it under the current situation. The person could be still screaming for help, but if their body is severed in half, we are to label a person black and move on to the next victim. This is traumatizing for all parties, both the medic and for the dying person.

I think this is just a small illustration of how mass catastrophes can drastically affect life. Just the seemingly endless amount of death and dying coupled with chaos and confusion changes the face of death. Maybe this is why our media is obsessed with apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and the “end of the world”. These themes have permeated everything from movies to music to books. Recently, the CDC published information on how to prepare for a zombie apocalypse. While funny and portrayed in a mildly joking manner, the point is to educate people on preparing for disasters including wars, terrorist attacks, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. (11_225700_A_Zombie_Final). If you go through the comic, it is a little funny, but the simple idea of a MCI has taken off in a variety of ways that have people thinking about the changes needed to deal with so many bodies at once.

What do you think? How do you think our society understands MCIs? How do we deal with mass death on an emotional and physical level?

“The Things Nobody Tells You About Grief”

A friend of mine recently had her mother pass away due to cancer. She posted this link, The Things Nobody Tells You About Grief, written by another blogger whose mother also passed away. It was both interesting and sad to read about death from someone else’s perspective. To me, it really brought out how we have these prescribed cultural norms that are supposed to ease the process of letting someone go, but when in reality, it does not change the cold, hard truth: that person is gone.

The blogger specifically calls out the never ending awkward and very cliche phrases that people feel the necessity to speak when talking to someone who has suffered a loss.

“They wouldn’t have known anything about it. It would have been quick.”
“Anything I can do, just call.”
“They’re in a better place.”
“They’re not suffering anymore.”
“They’re with Grandma and Fido now.”

I think of these comments as “prescription phrases”. We say them because society tell us to, but we have only a vague idea of what they actually mean. Similar to taking medicines from the doctor, we take them without really understanding the pathophysiology behind it.

In light of our recent discussions, this blog post emphasized the role of grief and mourning for the living more so than the dead. The rituals, the process, and the time that go into mourning the death of a loved one is more than just recognizing someone’s existence. It’s about finding closure and life after the death of a loved one. For the people that are coping, it is the little things like comfort and sanity that matter most. This post also points out many of the behavioral changes that accompany death, such as “muddled mind”, “tears”, “triggers”, etc. I think as an outsider it is easier to dismiss these subtleties in grief. Maybe we simply accept them as natural or normal without having any adequate methods of dealing with these issues.

It seems our go-to-response in the face of death, grief, or mourning is to dismiss, ignore, and forget rather than acknowledge, provide, or remember the impacts the death of a loved person can have.

“You don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone.”


We are all born to die.

We mentioned in class the other day how “dying young” can be considered a “bad death”. However, I came to thinking about our current young culture of YOLO (Thank you Drake). “You only live once” has perfused through so much of our culture, especially for young populations, that death is a far off thing. Right now, people feel they’re invincible, living on extremes and partaking in behavior that contributes to a slow and invisible death (the booze and buzz for example). The typical college scene thrives off of this image of do-whatever-you-want because, hey, what do you have to lose (besides your one life)?

I was listening to Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die”, and I thought it summed up this idea in an interesting way. The lyrics:

“Come on take a walk on the wild side
Let me kiss you hard in the pouring rain
You like your girls insane…
Choose your last words,
This is the last time
Cause you and I
We were born to die”

Scene from “Born to Die” Music Video

In an interview Lana says, “When I was young I was overwhelmed by thoughts of my own mortality, but I also found fleeting moments of happiness in the arms of my lover and friends. This track and the record are about these two worlds–death and love–coming together.”

Our culture is so obsessed with death, but in a variety of ways apparent in our social media. The underlying theme I see, especially in music, is that regardless of how or when you die, death is universal. We are all born in this world and at some point we all leave it. It almost is like we are born to die, for death is inescapable for everyone. Why not go all out then and “live like you’re dying”?