+
upworthy
Joy

The beautiful thing that happens in Amsterdam if you die and have no one to attend your funeral

The Lonely Funeral project was started by poet Frank Starik, who wrote, "Everyone—and this is the point—every person deserves respect."

cemetery
Canva

Every life deserves to at least be acknowledged.

Funerals can be many things—a sombre mourning, a celebration of life, a time for family to honor a loved one—but one thing they should never be is unattended.

But the reality is that some people simply don’t have people. Maybe they’re estranged from their family and have outlived all their friends. Maybe they fell into a life of drug addiction and lost all of their close connections. Maybe no next of kin can be found or they just happen to die in a life stage when they have no one around to attend their funeral. Whatever the reason, some people's send-offs from earthly existence are purely legal affairs with no personal touches whatsoever.

Two decades ago, some poets in the Netherlands decided that was an unacceptable ending for a human life. In 2001, a poet named Bart Droog began attending the funerals of people who had no one to attend them and honoring the dead with a poem based on whatever was known about their life. A year later, Dutch poet and artist Frank Starik took the idea even further, launching The Lonely Funeral project to ensure that someone who cares consciously acknowledges the life of a person who has died.


The idea was to create a network of poets who would find out whatever they could about the person, write a custom poem about their life and read it at their funeral. As of 2018, over 300 "lonely funerals" had been attended by poets in Amsterdam and Antwerp (where Flemish poet Maarten Inghels launched a Lonely Funeral project seven years after Starik's).

The Lonely Funeral project has continued to expand to other countries as well. Scottish poet Andy Jackson has begun writing poems for "lonely funerals" and attending them in his hometown of Dundee and he hopes to expand the project to the rest of Scotland.

"I feel everybody deserves something humane at the end of life" he told the BBC. "Nobody should be completely unmourned. If we want to live in humane country these are little things we can do for people. It becomes the job of the community."

A natural question is how the poets know what to write if the person was all alone.

"They would have a passport, some details from the police or from social services, a photograph or some information about their life maybe," Jackson explained to the BBC. "Something that would give away something of who they were that a poet then could use to form the basis of a piece of work that would actually celebrate the real person—not somebody you couldn't identify."

Starik and Inghels have even published a book, The Lonely Funeral: Poets at the Gravesides of the Forgotten, which includes poems for 31 forgotten lives and descriptions of their funerals—a small piece of dignity offered to perfect strangers.

There's perhaps nothing more beautiful than the impulse to recognize someone simply for the sake of their humanity. It's a reminder that we are all connected in some way, even if it's just by the reality of life and death.

As Starik wrote in his preface to The Lonely Funeral: "We do not know to whom we say goodbye, so we feel no pain. But everyone—and this is the point—every person deserves respect."

Leave it to the poets to remind us of the inherent worth of every human being and to honor it with such a simple, selfless service.

How often should you wash your jeans?

Social media has become a fertile breeding ground for conversations about hygiene. Whether it’s celebrities bragging about how little their family bathes or battles over how often people should wash their sheets or bras.

One of the debates that gets the most diverse responses is how often people wash their denim jeans.

Denim atelier Benjamin Talley Smith tells Today that jeans should be washed "as little as possible, if at all.” Laundry expert Patric Richardson adds they should be cleaned “after nine or 10 wearings, like to me, that is the ideal." At that point, they probably have stains and are "a little sweaty by that point, so you need to wash 'em," Richardson says.

Still, some people wash and dry them after every wear while others will hand wash and never hang dry. With all these significant differences of opinion, there must be a correct answer somewhere, right?

Keep ReadingShow less
@mkwcreative.co/TikTok

Who says goal-setting can't be fun?

It’s January, which means that many people are clarifying the goals they'd like to accomplish by next year. But finding ways to actually stick to those lofty New Year's ambitions isn’t always as easy as listing them out. Because, inevitably, pressure starts to set in.

But what if ticking off your resolutions list could be fun as well as productive? Sort of a blend of everything whimsical about a vision board and everything efficient about a to-do list?

Thanks to one work team’s ingenious idea, having the best of both worlds isn't so impossible after all.

Keep ReadingShow less

The 4-7-8 technique can help you fall asleep.

Are you having a hard time falling asleep? Dr. Andrew Weil has shared the “most powerful” relaxation technique he knows, and it doesn’t require any equipment or cost a dime. It’s known as the 4-7-8 method and it’s backed up by science.

Dr. Weil is an expert in integrative medicine and the founder and director of the Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.

The technique is simple:

Keep ReadingShow less
Identity

People from other countries share 14 'obvious' signs that someone is an American

"Americans lean on anything they can while standing around…"

Some American tourists enjoying the sights

Americans have a style and personality all their own, which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just noticeable when they travel aboard. Americans often stand out because of their outgoing personalities. They are friendly and enjoy having casual conversations with strangers.

This is an endearing trait to a lot of people in more reserved cultures, although it can also come off as a little brash.

An American characteristic that isn’t quite endearing to people in other countries is that they can be rather loud. In Europe, one can always notice the Americans in the restaurant because they can be heard from across the room.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Viral kids' librarian responds to being bullied online and it's a lesson in kind clapbacks

“I hope they experience kindness. I hope they experience joy.”

Librarian's response to online bullying is a beautiful lesson.

No one enjoys being made fun of. It can be difficult to manage no matter how old you are, but the internet has brought teasing and bullying to a whole new level. People no longer have to see their bullies face-to-face, and instead of maybe someone turning a few of their friends against you, it's a few hundred or few thousand joining in on the teasing.

In this digital age, people are still trying to learn new ways to deal with finding themselves on the receiving end of online bullies. Mychal, a librarian who has become a viral sensation for his unique way of excitedly telling people about the library, recently found out he was the subject of online bullies. He had no idea anyone was teasing him until followers started doing mental health check-ins to make sure he was okay.

Once he found out why his community was reaching out with concern, the librarian decided to address the situation head on and in the process he gave a masterclass in kindness.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Watch a 13-year-old boy become the first person ever to beat Tetris

The classic 80s video game was considered unbeatable…until now.

Classic Tetris/YouTube

Thirteen-year-old Willis Gibson is the only player ever known to beat Tetris.

Few video games are as compelling and addictive as Tetris. Nor are other games, even the most difficult ones, literally impossible to beat.

The task behind Tetris is simple: rotate the falling blocks to fit the puzzle. But as those pieces fall at a faster and faster rate, at some point even the most skilled player becomes outmatched. In fact, no player (other than an AI bot) has been known to ever actually beat the game.

Until now.

Thirteen-year-old Willis Gibson, better known as “Blue Scuti” when he’s gaming, was about 39 minutes into a Tetris competition, rotating blocks at lightning speed, when he achieved a “True Killscreen,” signaling the game couldn’t keep up and crashed.

In other words, Gibson did the impossible. The 34-year-old old game was finally beat…by a teen.

Keep ReadingShow less