About: Justin Nobel

We live our lives online. Baby photos are uploaded, homework is emailed in, mates are encountered via Facebook and in nearly every field the web has revolutionized how work is done. And we die online too; obituaries and even funeral services can now be downloaded. We have entered the age of Digital Dying. \r\n\r\nThis blog explores trends in death and the industries it touches, examines perceptions and practices regarding dying, both past and present and also looks at the living, and how we anticipate, recover from and are even inspired by death.\r\n\r\nDigital Dying is written by Justin Nobel, whose stories about science, culture and travel have appeared in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Audubon, Gourmet.com, Nunatsiaq News, Point Reyes Light and The Smart Set www.justinnobel.com. Comments and ideas can be sent to [email protected].

A Precious Story of Stillborn Babies

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Thu, February 8th, 2018

Digital Dying recently wrote about a southern Louisiana reporter named John Desantis, “the type of old-school, wild-haired, chain-smoking keeps-a-police-scanner-in-his-car-which-also-serves-as-an-office journalist that Hollywood directors used to make movies about.”

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In These Tragic Times, Are There More Half-Staff Flags?

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Thu, January 18th, 2018

In the frigid lavender dawn, when many of us are still in bed, or clutching our warm coffee cups or huddled around stoves, or in warm vehicles or train cars on our way to work one person is already at their post, located at your local park, post office, or court house, about to do their job: raise the flag.

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Holiday Heart

Just What The Heck is Holiday Heart?

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Tue, December 19th, 2017

The condition was first reported in the early 1970s, though it likely dates back to the invention of the wine goblet, approximately 12,000 years ago.

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Elephants Love Their Dead – Is That Why We Love Them?

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Mon, November 20th, 2017

Do elephants have the power to vote?

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Why Do We Vote for Coroners? (And Why Call Them Coroners..?)

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Thu, November 9th, 2017

Yes, there was an election the other day—though of course you already knew that. Because we live in a time when even races for county commissioner and school board can become mud-slinging, dark money-funded death matches whose results are calculated in real time, hashed out live by drooling analyst armies on the news then devoured on social media. Of course, paying close attention to politics is vital to the democracy, and great for TV ads, but there is one spot on the ballot that often goes unnoticed: coroner.

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People Are Dying, No One Is Crying (Updated)

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Fri, October 27th, 2017

Several years ago, our Justin Nobel discussed the the way some Middle Eastern cultures hire women to weep and wail at funerals. At the time, many many Westerners were surprised by the practice which actually has a very long history.

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The Media Is Obsessed with Florida’s Nursing Home Deaths—The Real Problem Is We’ve Abandoned the Elderly

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Tue, September 19th, 2017

The news was devastating, and it came in dribs and drabs. First there were three dead. Then five. Then seven. The tally now rests at eight.

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Hurricane Harvey lonely death

Hurricane Harvey “Lonely Deaths”

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Mon, September 4th, 2017

Hurricane Harvey is responsible for killing at least 47 people in Texas. According to a story last week in the New York Times, at least several of these people died alone.

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The Transgender Cemetery Struggle

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Wed, August 16th, 2017

At the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio last year, Texas Senator Ted Cruz made a powerful and inflammatory statement.

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Just How Many People Will Climate Change Kill?

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Wed, July 12th, 2017

The heat is on.

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Searching for Eternal Life in a Chinese Cave, Or a Florida Spring

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Wed, June 7th, 2017


Step aside Juan Ponce de León, the long-sought secret to longevity may not be a mysterious Florida spring, but a Chinese cave.

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Searching for Ghosts in the Bayous Outside New Orleans with John Desantis

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Thu, May 18th, 2017

John DeSantis is the type of old-school, wild-haired, chain-smoking keeps-a-police-scanner-in-his-car-which-also-serves-as-an-office journalist that Hollywood directors used to make movies about.

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The Mysterious Case of Fumiko Kimura, the Mother Who Drowned Her Children

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Wed, April 5th, 2017

On January, 29, 1985, 32-year-old Fumiko Kimura waded out into the cold waves off Santa Monica Beach on a deadly mission.

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These monkey mothers actually carry around the corpses of their young

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Mon, March 13th, 2017

Imagine a new mother walking down a sunny sidewalk in a big city. She has a coffee in one hand, a bag over her shoulder, and swaddled at her chest is an infant. She is happy. She is going about her daily routine. The only thing strange about the scene: the infant is dead.

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Snow Monkeys

If You Kill 57 Snow Monkeys Do You Go To Heaven?

By: Justin Nobel | Date: Tue, March 7th, 2017

A few weeks ago news broke that Takagoyama Nature Zoo, located not far from Tokyo on Japan’s main island of Honshu had put to death 57 snow monkeys. They were killed by lethal injection. The reason for the grand assault on these Japanese macaques, and our distant cousins: Having sex.

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