Journal 1: Required
My first and most personal experience with death is actually not an experience with death
per se but rather an experience with the precariousness of life. When I was three years old, I was
diagnosed with acute lymphatic leukemia, a cancer of the blood. Nowadays this cancer is pretty
treatable with a survival rate close to ninety percent, however; in 1994, it was predicted only 6 of
every 10 patients diagnosed would survive. I, of course only being three years old at the time,
did not realize then how sick I really was. I did however, realize something was horribly wrong
with me and it made my mother cry herself to sleep for nights at a time. The entire year or so
when I was undergoing intense chemotherapy, I felt awful (probably from the medicine) and
scared. My fear originated from a conversation with my mother about two weeks into treatment.
She did not talk to me about death really; it was more about positivity and having a will to live.
She told me that more children survive this type of cancer than adults do because children have
the will and determination to live. As long as I wanted to live, I would be fine. Whether this fact
is true or not is not important. At the time, it was the first time someone had mentioned to me
the possibility of dying and, although I did not fully understand the concept of death, I knew
dying would be a bad thing. In retrospection of my battle with cancer, it has changed the way I
view death and live. Now that I understand how close the possibility of death was for me back
then, I feel that every day I have now is a gift. Similar to how Robert Luis Stevenson’s views, I
believe one should live life to the fullest and do what makes one happy. For example, I love to
get thrills out of life; it makes me feel like I am living more. The acme of my adventure seeking
thrills was on my eighteenth birthday, where I felt fully alive as a plummeted to earth, skydiving
in Las Vegas.
The first time I was responsible for killing a living thing was, again, when I was young,
probably around the age of 4. I was playing in some sand in my backyard, one of the rare times I
felt well enough to play (I was still undergoing chemotherapy). Across my rather lumpy looking Hampsch 2
sand mound strolled an ant. It was just a tiny ant, not doing any harm to anyone but I decided to
stomp on my sand mound and kill it. Now, I never found out if I actually killed it because, when
I jumped, sand went everywhere, but it made me feel powerful. For once, I felt like had control
over something. For the past year, my mother and doctors had had total control over my life and
in this one act I felt as if I had regained some power.
The first time I had ever seen a dead human being was when my grandmother died. I was
about twelve years old and it was at this time when I discovered my mother’s feelings about
death and how she dealt with grief. My mother and grandmother had not been close when my
mother was going up. In fact it was my great-grandmother who eventually ended up raising my
mother. However, as my grandmother got older, and sicker (she had Hepatitis), she ended up
moving in with my family. She and my mother still were not close but they were closer than
they had been before. When my grandmother finally died from liver failure at age 61, I could
tell my mother was grief-stricken. In public, she would put on a tough face and tell everyone she
was fine but underneath she was sad. It might not have been sorrow for the loss of my
grandmother and rather regret at the failed relationship, but the mourning and the grief was still
there for my mother. Yet, my mother felt she had to be strong. Strong for her sisters who had
just lost the mother they loved and strong for us, my mother’s own children, who had just lost a
loving grandmother. My mom threw herself into the funeral process, probably to give herself
something to do. Throughout the entire ordeal, my mother never broke down and showed her
grief in public. Hampsch 3
Journal 2 – Plan your Funeral
I do not want the ordinary somber and melancholy funeral!At my funeral, I want people
to celebrate my life as well as the fact that they still have their lives. First off, my body shall be
cremated. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I do not like claustrophobic spaces and one of my
greatest fears is to be buried alive so I do not think I want my body in the ground. A nice regular
cremation ceremony will be just fine for me. As for my ashes, I want two things done with my
ashes. Firstly, I want a portion of my ashes to go to LifeGem. We did this with my grandmother
and I thought it was creative. LifeGem is a company which takes cremation ashes and heats them
so intensely that parts of the ashes turn into diamonds, which then the family gets to keep. My
diamond, hopefully turquoise blue like my grandmother’s was, will then be put on a ring of some
sort and be given to my next of kin. The remaining portion of my ashes I want scattered over the
Atlantic Ocean. Because of this fact, my funeral will take place either in a boat on the ocean or
on a cliff overlooking the ocean (whatever is cheapest—I do not want my funeral being a formal
and expensive affair). Anybody who knew me and wants to celebrate my life and theirs is
welcome to come to my funeral. I want a proper Irish funeral! This means that at my funeral
there will be plenty of drinking and cheeriness. Every time someone says my name everyone has
to take a drink. They will rejoice in my life and not mourn my loss. I want the following Irish
blessing spoken at my funeral;
May the joys of today
Be those of tomorrow.
The goblets of life
Hold no dregs of sorrow.
As for the music at my funeral, the only song I request be played at my funeral is “Come
SailAway” by Styx because I like the message. It reiterates and, I hope, will reflect the message
my funeral is supposed to have: Death is an unknown adventure and everyone should live their
life to the fullest before it is too late. The rest of the music can whatever others want. Also, Hampsch 4
there are three poems I would like to be recited at my funeral, two for the message within them
and the third only because it is my favorite poem. The two poems I want for their “Carpe Diem”
TurnAgain To Life
If I should die and leave you here a while, For Katrina's Sun Dial
Be not like others, sore undone, who keep Time is too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Long vigils by the silent dust, and weep. Too long for those who grieve,
For my sake - turn again to life and smile, Too short for those who rejoice,
Nerving thy heart and trembling hand to do But for those who love, time is
Something to comfort other hearts than thine.
Complete those unfinished tasks of mine Eternity.
And I, perchance, may therein comfort you.
- Mary Lee Hall
The poem this is just my favorite poem is;
StopAll the Clocks, Cut Off the Telephone
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last fore ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one:
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep upt the woods:
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
-- W. H.Auden Hampsch 5
Journal #3-. My Living Will (Massachusetts)
In the case that I become unconscious and it is relatively certain that I will never regain
consciousness, I choose not to prolong my life. I feel that if there no possibility I will regain
consciousness that I have already suffered a psychological death and there is no point to keeping
me alive. If I have a soul, I do not want it trapped in a body that has no chance of being able to
In all other cases where my conscious self is involved refer to the following;
In terms of Resuscitation: I do not want to be resuscitated if I am diagnosed with and
incurable and irreversible condition. In any cases where there is not certainty of my impending
death please resuscitate. Resuscitate for as long as medically acceptable. If I do not begin
breathing or my heart does not start beating on its own within five to seven minutes of the
resuscitation you may stop resuscitation and let me die. After the five to seven minutes I have
probably already suffered enough brain damage to not be able to live a happy existence with
what little time I would have left so stop resuscitating after five to seven minutes.
In terms of Mechanical Ventilation: Do not put me on a mechanical ventilator if (a). I
am unconscious and there is no chance of me every regaining consciousness (if unsure put me on
ventilation but as soon as it is determined that I will not wake up take me off) or (b). there is no
chance of me every being taken off of the ventilator (again, once it is determined that I will never
be able to breathe on my own, take me off of the ventilator).
In terms of Nutrition and HydrationAssistance:Acceptable in all cases. I do not want
to die starving to death. I have never delt with agony but I think I would prefer to die from
tangible pain rather than the intangible pain of starving to death. Hampsch 6
In terms of Dialysis:Acceptable in all cases except if dialysis requires me to never be
able to leave the hospital. If it is determined that I need dialysis so often that my residence at the
hospital is required, stop the dialysis.
RELIEF FROM PAIN
I choose relief from pain even if it hastens my death in all cases where I have an
incurable and irreversible illness and I am within a couple months or so of an imminent death.
Do not hasten my death through pain alleviators if there is even a minuscule chance of me
surviving. I am a survivor and I want to fight.
HEALTH CARE PROXY
I designate my father, Robert James Hampsch as my heath care proxy in the case that I
become unconscious or incapable of consciously making these decisions. I value and trust that
he will make the right decisions for me. He has the priority over this document. I wish he make
his decision with regards to this document however his decision, in the case I cannot make mine,
In the case of my death I offer any viable organs, tissues, and bones I may have for
transplants, research and therapy. I would rather have my body go back to my family if the only
place it could be used is for education. I do not like the idea of some seventh grade class staring
and playing with at my skeleton for the rest of eternity. Hampsch 7
Journal #4 Popular Songs about Death
For this journal I chose two songs by popular artists that deal deeply with death. The first
song, “I Corinthians 15:55” by Johnny Cash, is a song that he wrote in response to reading the
corresponding passage from the Bible. I thought this song was especially relevant because we
read this section from Paul yesterday in class. The first two lines, “O Death, where is thy
sting?/O Grief, where is thy victory?” is almost a direct quote from the bible (the lines are
reversed in order but are essentially the same). Within the song Cash is responding directly to
Christ for dying for our sins so that we may achieve eternal life with God. For example, Cash
mentions his “redeemer beckoning [him]” and asks this redeemer to not “come to soon yet/for
collecting [his] debt”. In this, Cash is essentially asking his redeemer, Christ, to not let him die
anytime soon. The “debt” he mentions is referring to repentance from his sins; he says that when
a person dies Christ will come looking for the repentance of one sins. Throughout the entire
song Cash portrays death as a journey that, although may be dangerous, should not be feared
because Christ will be there to guide and protect you. For example, one verse reads, “Oh row
my ship over the waves of your sea/Let me find a safe port now and then/Don't let the dark one
in your sanctuary/Until it's time to pack it in”. The great journey of life one goes on is described
by Cash as a journey across the sea and in asking Christ to “row [his] ship” to a “safe port,” Cash
is asking Christ to guide him in life.
The second song I chose is a one-verse song written by Pink Floyd titled, "The Great Gig
In The Sky". It is only a 5 line song but each line is packed full of death imagery and
perspectives on dying. The singer declares within the first line that he is “not frightened of
dying,” and asks the rhetorical question of why he should be afraid of dying. In this he is
making the obvious statement that death is not something that should be feared. He then
exclaims that “you’ve gotta go sometime,” referring to how death is inevitable and will come to
you no matter what you do. With further research into this song I found a quote by Rick Wright, Hampsch 8
keyboardist for Pink Floyd and writer of this song in response to this song. He said that for him,
“one of the pressures of being in a band is the constant fear of dying because of all the traveling
[he was] doing in planes and on the motorways of Europe”. Wright wrote this song about not
fearing death as a means of coping with his constant fear of death while on tour with his band.
The Great Gig In The Sky"
"And I am not frightened of dying, any time will do, I don't mind.
Why should I be frightened of dying?
There's no reason for it, you've gotta go sometime."
"If you can hear this whispering you are dying."
"I never said I was frightened of dying."
O Death, where is thy sting?
I Corinthians 15:55 lyrics
O Grief, where is they victory?
O Death, where is thy sting? O Life, you are a shining path.
O Grief, where is they victory? And hope springs eternal, just over the rise,
O Life, you are a shining path.
And hope springs eternal, just over the rise, When I see my redeemer beckoning me.
When I see my redeemer beckoning me. Oh let me sail on
With my ship to the East
Oh row my ship over the waves of your sea
And keep my eye on the North Star
Let me find a safe port now and then When the journey is no good for man or for
Don't let the dark one in your sanctuary beast
Until it's time to pack it in
I'll be safe wherever you are
O, row, row my ship Just let me sail into your harbor of lights
With the fire of your breath And there and forever to cast out my night
And don't lay a broadside on your ship as yet
Give me my task
Blow ye warm winds And let me do it right
When it's chilly and wet And do it with all of my might
And don't come to soon yet
For collecting my debt O Death, where is thy sting?
O Grief, where is they victory?
O Life, you are a shining path.
And hope springs eternal, just over the rise,
When I see my redeemer beckoning me. Hampsch 9
Journal #5 Guest Speaker—Reverend Paul Carter
Reverend Paul Carter’s interpretation of St. Paul and his writings was a very interesting