Author Archives: sagilla

Frozen To Death

A 93-year-old elderly man froze to death from hypothermia after the city shut off his power due to an unpaid bill.  Check out the full story here:



The Extreme Funeral Planning

A part of the process of death is preparing for death.  On an episode of  “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”, 56-year old Kris Jenner introduces the serious topic of death and burial to the Kardashian/Jenner/Odom/Disick families.  In the unfortunate event that one of their family members dies, Kris believes it’s important and essential to be prepared.  A mother of six, her inspiration on this topic arose from shortly after visiting her ill mother.  The entire family didn’t take her seriously, and started laughing hysterically!

Kris goes to many measures to make sure everything is set in stone for her family’s burial. We may not realize this at first, but funerals are a business. There are a myriad of options of how to treat bodies post-death, many of which are culturally constructed. These options seem normal to us, because that is how our culture makes them seem.  After the death of a loved one, we are to decide what kind of casket to get, based on the dead’s wishes and preferences. Thus, some people like to be prepared and have specific preferences on what they want, while other’s don’t mind.

Since Kris Jenner noticed that her family wasn’t really as passionate about this as she was, she decided to take this responsibility upon herself.  She proceeded to lay down in a casket and test it out, so she could decide on what kind she wanted to have for herself after death. Kris Jenner took a picture of herself with her eyes closed acting as if she was a dead, embalmed body and sent it to her children via text message.  There is a lot of importance placed on “the viewing” and the appearance of the body after death. Her motive was to hopefully shake her children up, and make them realize how she would look if death came upon her.  Kris also wanted to prove a point, that this was a serious this topic and also that she’s really worried no one will be there for her to take care of her.  Kris even posed in a deluxe model coffin, and although shaken, her daughter Kim was not bothered by the image of her mother’s death.

(Image from The Daily Mail)

Even though her family is discouraged and uninterested, nothing stops Kris Jenner from taking a tour at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery and Funeral Home in Los Angeles, dragging her husband along.  Jokingly, Khloe Kardashian says the burial site should have a mausoleum and a moat.  The event planner and celebrity Kim Kardashian seems to be interested on just having a “fab” location to be buried in. Kris goes as far as ordering which flowers she would like best at their funeral as well.  As a business manager, its in Kris’ blood to be such a big planner.  For some, these burial rituals aren’t important, but for others give it a lot of thought and importance.

Kris took her entire family to a potential burial site and planned where everyone’s coffins would be placed on the celebrity-filled Hollywood plot, just for her family.  Since the Kardashian/Jenner/Odom/Disick family have all been so close and connected due to the show that is aired on E!, it only makes sense to Kris  to be buried together.  Funeral homes symbolize the removal from one home to another home.  It’s comforting to think that even when dead, the family is close in proximity and stays together.

The idea of planning one’s death may seem morbid and outrageous.  However, the ultimate concern of Kris was legitimate.  The idea of death may seem scary, due to the fear of the unknown.  Also, as a mother, she is worried that her children will not take care of her or care for her when she’s older or dead.   Kris is independent right now, but there are a lot of elderly who are suffering due to their children’s lack of attention.  Many people laugh it off jokingly, and make it seem like death and burial isn’t an important topic to discuss about since it’s in the future.  However, sometimes comedy and satire are ways of dealing with not wanting to talk about this sensitive and emotional subject. Granted it is good to plan for the future, but Kris planning her and her family’s funeral and burial to the T is slightly discomforting.

In the end, I found it slightly weird how her son, Rob Kardashian, tattooed a picture of Kris on his forearm, as a symbol that she will never be forgotten and to let go of the funeral discussion in total.  Many times people get pictures, dates, and phrases, or any symbol of memorabilia permanently tattooed to their body when someone close to them passes away.  This was Rob’s gesture to show his mother he cared for her.  Who knows, maybe this extreme gesture was necessary to finally put Kris to peace?

(Image from The Daily Mail)

To watch another clip from the episode, please visit


-S. Gillani

Resting In Pieces?

When one dies, the conservation of the integrity of the body is practiced in our culture.  Many times when a person dies, we still have an emotional attachment to the body because the body and identity of the person are intertwined.   Although the person has died, the body is still treated with respect through the conduction of certain rites and rituals at funerals.  The treatment of the dead body is related with mortuary practices.  The way cadavers are controlled, is the way the family copes with the death of their loved one. In other words, the way the cadaver is handled is the way we indirectly handle and define death.  Thus, funerals provide a sense of closure, and introduce the initial process of peaceful detachment. However, for a Muslim family in London, this was not the case.

On Friday April 18, 2003, a Muslim woman’s body was found in the hospital morgue covered with pieces of bacon, as it was being arranged for the viewing. In Islam, the consumption of pork is prohibited.  Thus, the act of having bacon put on the body is not only disrespectful to the body, but also to the religion, the family, and the Muslim community at large. One of the family members said, “ ‘I witnessed her passing away and then for me to witness that again, it’s traumatic. I feel emotionally raped.’ ”  The person who committed this crime was attacking the religious beliefs of the deceased, by performing this traumatizing act. As a Muslim myself, I was awfully disturbed and repulsed. Even if the person who died wasn’t Muslim, it is such a grotesque thing to do in general!  But because the family is Muslim, a deeper meaning is behind it.  Somebody symbolically put what is forbidden in Islam on the dead body as “a slap in the face”.   This incident reflects on how cadavers are located in a liminal phase, of being between a subject and an object.   The dead body is just an object, but is the main subject of this issue.  This hate crime just shows that people are capable of doing anything and everything they possibly can to make a point.

As mentioned earlier, funerals provide a sense of closure for the family members.  However, this upsetting act made it a lot worse for the family to cope with their grandmother’s death. As a result, there is a cash value prize to whoever comes forward on who may have committed this racial hate crime.  The article can be found in the link below: