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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later.Support Elizabeth on Patreon.

15 Comments

  1. Burk Diggler
    August 4, 2014 @ 1:41 am

    What a beautiful article!

    Reply

  2. Steven
    August 4, 2014 @ 1:56 am

    oh wow

    Reply

  3. jane
    August 4, 2014 @ 3:44 am

    Killer line at the end.

    Reply

  4. Seeing_I
    August 4, 2014 @ 4:29 am

    Thank you for this. I fucking despised Miracle Day and it's great to see someone put their finger on one of the things that bothered me about it. Give me a burping bin any day rather than this.

    Reply

  5. Katherine Sas
    August 4, 2014 @ 4:34 am

    Agreed.

    Reply

  6. reservoirdogs
    August 4, 2014 @ 5:36 am

    Huh, always wondered what your name was.

    Reply

  7. storiteller
    August 4, 2014 @ 8:01 am

    This is fantastic. I'm going to send this to my friend who is a hospital (and now nursing home) chaplain and often sees death from the spiritual side of things.

    On a logistical/administrative note, Phil, you forgot to include the link to your Patreon in the text. I would recommend that for accessibility reasons, you have the link be to text like "my Patreon campaign" instead of "here" because really, short non-descriptive links are almost impossible to understand for folks with visual disabilities using screen readers.

    Reply

  8. IMA Patient
    August 4, 2014 @ 8:59 am

    Compare and contrast: Miracle Day and In the Flesh.

    Reply

  9. Adam Riggio
    August 4, 2014 @ 11:14 am

    A wonderful essay that encapsulates so well what precisely went, as I like to call it, most wrong about Miracle Day. Jill's ideas about the horrifying and schizophrenic way we deal with death in our society will sound radical to a lot of people — our cultural fear of death and refusal to accept it is largely overwhelming. And her ideas are a lot more relevant after watching the macabre circus of Jahi McMath's death that was never allowed to happen. Too many of us simply aren't ethically ready to handle medical technology as powerful as ours, which results in this kind of grotesquerie.

    She's right as well about how the loudest voices advocating the extension of life at all costs are people who haven't seriously suffered or dealt with suffering people. When I worked in universities full time, I used to teach the ethics of health care some semesters, and the curriculum included academic philosophical articles discussing the appropriateness of palliative care and whether it is morally right for people to be allowed to die. I was actually offended by one article in particular, which argued that because any experience is, in the abstract sense, better than no experience at all, then no degree of human suffering could permit letting someone die.

    I always found it very difficult teaching these arguments, because they were often written by professional philosophy teachers who had rarely worked in more intense hospital and home care environments. It always struck me that the voices of care workers who are often more critical of our attitude rarely seem to have much power to change our policies and begin the radical discussions we need to update our attitudes to death.

    So thanks, Jill, for putting blankly just where Miracle Day fell terribly short from its great potential. Phil's posts were excellent at identifying how the program failed to reach its potential in narrative, characterization, and as a practical television production. But Jill identified the key philosophical shortcoming of Miracle Day. It offered us an opportunity to engage with death, through popular media, as a necessary and important part of life. Instead, it consistently shied away from the most difficult philosophical and ethical questions that it could have engaged with, skirting around their edges until the show finally stuck its fingers in its ears and pretended that nothing unsettling was happening at all. In so many sense of that term.

    Reply

  10. Alan
    August 4, 2014 @ 11:43 am

    My father passed away last year at age 82. He spent most of the last two months of his life in ICU and mos to that in a semi-conscious drugged up state, half-deaf, half-blind, with a tube stuck up every single orifice. During that time, I suspect his strongest moments of awareness of his surroundings came when relentlessly cheerful and upbeat strangers rolled him over so they could wipe his ass for him. Although I deferred to my mother's wishes (as she had an ironclad POA), I could not escape the feeling that everyone, acting with the best of intentions, was making my father's last days as miserable as possible in order to assuage their own personal consciences and religious beliefs (it was a Baptist hospital). I was profoundly relieved when my mother accepted that there was no possibility of him ever leaving the hospital and she decided to let nature take its course. It was then, that I made my own end of life decision.

    In fifteen years, when I reach the age of 60 (earlier if I have any sort of health crisis), I plan to liquidate everything I own and travel the world until the money starts to run out. At that point, I'm going to Sweden or Norway or whatever country has the most liberal euthanasia laws by that point and I'm going to kill myself as painlessly and efficiently as possible. And if God has a problem with me killing my self and depriving Him of the chance to torture me to death, then He's a fucker and I would prefer to go to Hell than to spend eternity in His sanctimonious company.

    Reply

  11. 5tephe
    August 4, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

    Beautifully, wonderfully, angrily perfect Jill. We couldn't ask for more. Thanks.

    Reply

  12. elvwood
    August 5, 2014 @ 1:55 am

    Yup, same reaction here. I have accidentally shocked people with my casual attitude to the bodies of loved ones in the past, and have tried to figure out what people are feeling that I am not – but this post has made me realise that it's not just me – death, like sex, is an area where nobody has really clear thinking. Thanks.

    Reply

  13. elvwood
    August 6, 2014 @ 12:05 am

    My mum was a ward sister in a children's hospital, and ended up baptising lots of babies before they died because of how upset many parents would get if their child died unbaptised. She was only supposed to do it if she could see they were about to die, but given how often this wasn't possible she baptised all the children who only had a small chance of survival.

    She herself was only technically C of E. She believed in God, but not really in any church – she thought Islam and Judaism just as valid as Christianity, for example, but didn't agree with any of the "my way or the highway" aspects of any religion. She passed on to me the idea that how you live your life is what is important. I've kept that part, even though I am not a theist.

    Just an example of what people do to accommodate others' attitudes to death.

    Reply

  14. Daru
    August 7, 2014 @ 10:43 pm

    Absolutely agree Jane.

    Reply

  15. Daru
    August 7, 2014 @ 10:52 pm

    "The problem isn't, as Vera suggests, that humans are going to screw it up. It's that the end of death isn't a miracle in the first place"

    Your whole article is wonderful, thank you Jill. I have tried to like Miracle Day and not quite been able to exactly touch on why I couldn't. You hit the nail on the head and with that quote above and your whole essay, you beautifully articulate it's problem.

    I have worked around death for a long time, having adults with learning disabilities with whom I have worked die whilst I was with them, and spending two years working in an HIV/AIDS hospice in Scotland as an arts worker.

    You are right, death should be rightfully acknowledged as a fundamental part of our lives, but it is not seen as that and Torchwood who could have spent time exploring the territory of death just ran away from it. Sad.

    Reply

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