Average life expectancy at birth was very low in the mid-fourteenth century, but significant numbers of people lived into middle and old age, even in peasant communities. Death in Walsham was less predictable and avoidable than today because of the harshness of most villagers’ lives. They worked hard in the fields in all weather and suffered from frequent shortages of food, as well as a lack of effective treatments for many common ailments. However, despite being a period of hardship, the decades before the Black Death were largely free of epidemic diseases that infected and killed substantial numbers of people.
It is difficult to overstress the importance of a “good death,” which was essential to ensure the safe journey of the soul from this world to the next, shortening the time spent in Purgatory and easing the pain of being there. In the later Middle Ages the deathbed was commonly portrayed as a battlefield where the forces of good and evil, mercy and condemnation fought over the soul of the dying person. While devils whirled around, tempting and terrifying the dying and seeking to snatch their souls and carry them to Hell, the priest, aided by the powers and accoutrements of his office, the Virgin Mary, and the intercession of the saints, strove to extract the contrition and confession that would deliver God ’s mercy and eventual salvation. Repentance and deathbed ministrations by the clergy could save even the gravest of sinners from damnation, but this alone did not purge all the sins that had been committed. Purging was achieved through the pains of Purgatory, though the prayers of the living could assist in speeding the souls of the dead toward Heaven.
According to the laws and customs of the time, the living could generally devolve their property as they wished, but strict inheritance customs, enforced in Walsham’s manor courts, determined how the bulk of estates would pass after death. Landholdings were shared equally between surviving sons, with daughters inheriting only if they had no brothers. When multiple sons inherited land, it was often more efficient if they farmed it cooperatively rather than splitting it into small, uneconomic parcels. But sometimes brothers found it impossible to work with each other.
In the late summer of 1345, in the village of Walsham in west Suffolk, William Wodebite was close to death. Although he was an old man, thought to be at least sixty, William was accustomed to good health. But in the last two weeks he had become ever more frail, brought down by a fever, diarrhea, and constant vomiting. It had been more than four days since William had been able to digest any food, and he was now slipping in and out of consciousness. When awake he often lapsed into a gentle vagueness, muttering quietly to himself, and it seemed to those gathered around his bedside that at times he was barely breathing and his heart was scarcely beating. Family, friends, and neighbors clustered in his house and around his bed, offering spiritual and bodily support and comfort (see figure 5). They bathed him, encouraged him to eat and drink, prayed for his recovery, and, if that were not to happen, for the forgiveness of his sins and the salvation of his soul. As William continued to weaken, a discussion began about whether his end was near. When he lapsed into a long and unnaturally deep sleep, it was agreed that the time had come to summon the parish priest to his bedside to guide him through his final hours of death. Two of William’s nephews hurried off to St. Mary’s church, which stood just over a mile away, to summon Master John.
The priest was expecting the summons and immediately started to prepare himself to lead William safely through the crucial and dangerous stages of his last hours on earth. Master John called to his chaplain and to a group of young boys who acted as choristers and general helpers, and asked the sexton to begin his solemn pealing of the church bell in the tower. As John had often told his assistants, the administration of the last sacraments of shrift, housel, and annealing—confession, Communion, and anointing—required a specific range of texts, substances, and equipment to administer, and they now set about assembling them. John washed and dried his hands, and after crossing himself he carefully removed the ivory box, called a pyx, from the altar. Suspecting the imminence of William’s death, he had saved a piece of the consecrated Host from the morning Mass in the box. He poured a little holy oil into a small brass pot and dipped another vessel, perforated with small holes in its lid, into the water in the font, and then hung them both on the belt he wore around his waist.
All the time, Master John offered the young boys a commentary on the function that each substance and vessel would serve, and impressed on them how these and other powerful weapons of the Church were essential to ward off the forces of evil striving to drag the dying man’s soul into damnation. Then, one by one, he put on his vestments, with as much attention to detail as a knight would dress and arm for battle. First, the white alb, which reached to his ankles and covered his arms with long full sleeves, and then the red girdle that he tied around his waist. Next he slipped the blue sleeveless chasuble over his head, which covered his front and back and hung down to his calves. And then, with great awe, he took up a long red cope, embroidered with gold and blue silk, and draped it over his shoulders. The subdeacon had by now arrived, and he fetched a large brass cross from behind the altar and tied to it, with red ribbons, a finely carved and richly painted wooden figure of the crucified Christ. When he had done this, the subdeacon collected a small pewter chalice, engraved on its foot with a cross, together with a Bible and a leather-bound service book containing prayers and responses and a number of psalms, and then picked up a bundle of clean white cloths. The boys, who had put on their white surplices, fetched two handbells and two great candles, which they set in large, brightly polished pewter pricket candlesticks, before carrying into the church an iron lantern on a painted wooden pole. Master John once again reminded his young assistants of the significance of what they were doing: “The lights, cross, and handbells are to announce the coming of Christ’s blessed body borne in the priest’s hands.” Nodding to the ivory pyx containing the Host, he added, “So that all who see it shall devoutly kneel down and worship his God by his paternoster, or whatever prayer that he can recite, and be summoned to follow the procession.”
The priest then draped a narrow piece of embroidered blue cloth over his left arm and took the brightly painted wooden statue of Mary from the screen, which he passed to his deacon. Finally, with great reverence, he lifted the pyx up in his hands and then surveyed with satisfaction his assembled assistants, who had already been joined by a number of parishioners. In the fading summer sunlight a solemn chanting procession, armed with the weapons of Christ and the Virgin Mary, left the church door and made its way through the churchyard into Church Way. With a lighted lantern and candles at the head, servers carrying the cross and ringing the handbells just behind, the deacon carrying aloft the statue of the Blessed Virgin, the chaplain clutching the holy books, and in the center Master John, bearing in both hands before his breast the Body of Christ wrapped in a napkin, set in an ivory box, draped with a freshly laundered linen veil, the procession resolutely advanced toward William’s cottage.
“Hail! Light of the world, Word of the Father, true Victim, Living Flesh, true God and true Man. Hail! Flesh of Christ, which has suffered for me! O flesh of Christ, let Thy blood wash my soul!”
The villagers who had gathered at the roadside knelt before the procession and prayed, and in the fading light of evening many followed behind, as Master John had foretold, “with bowed heads, devotion of heart, and uplifted hands, the good folk will see that the King of Glory under the veil of bread is being borne through their midst, and that one of their neighbors is about to embark on his journey from the world.”
The gathering around William’s bedside was visibly stirred by the sounds of the approaching procession. When his hand was gently squeezed, William opened his eyes.
Master John halted the procession outside the darkened room where William lay. He asked for the shutters to be partially opened, and, as the last rays of the sinking sun streamed through the gap, he entered bearing the crucifix before him. The priest positioned himself at the end of the bed facing William, with the light shining behind him, and said, “I have brought thee the image of thy savior; look upon it and draw comfort for yourself, in reverence of him that died for you and me. In this image adore your redeemer and have in mind his Passion, which he endured for your sins.”
Smiling at William, Master John placed close before the dying man’s eyes the carving of the crucified Christ, with its gilded hair stained by droplets of bright blood trickling from the green crown of thorns, and its ivory white torso savagely rent with a gaping wound of stunning red. He encouraged William to focus on the image and say after him, as best as he could, “I know well thou art not my God, but thou art imagined after him, and makest me have more mind of him after whom thou art imagined. Lord Father of Heaven, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ, thy son, which is here imagined, I set between thee and my evil deeds, and the desert of Jesus Christ I offer for that I should have deserved, and have nought.”
In a comforting voice the priest inquired of those gathered around whether William had set all his worldly affairs in order and passed on his property, carefully explaining that this was essential in order to demonstrate that William had willingly severed his links with this material world. They nodded that William had settled his affairs, although two of the neighbors whispered that some of William’s bequests had caused many angry words to be exchanged between his three sons and his daughter.
The priest sighed and turned his mind to putting the dying man’s spiritual estate in order. Seeing that William was now conscious and attentive, he began the Seven Interrogations: “Do you believe fully all the principal articles of faith as well as all the Holy Scriptures, in all things according to all the teachings of the holy and true doctors of Holy Church, and forsake all heresies and errors and opinions condemned by the Church?”
William nodded assent.
“Do you know how often, in what ways, and how grievously you have offended the Lord your God who created you from nothing?”
“Are you sorry in your heart for all the sins you have committed against the high majesty and love and goodness of God, and of all the goodness that you did not do but might have done, and of all the grace that you have rejected, not only for fear of death or any other pain, but rather for love of God and righteousness?”
William responded weakly, “Yes.”
“If your life be spared are you resolved to amend your life so that you may never commit mortal sins intentionally again?”
“Do you forgive fully in your heart anyone who has done you harm or caused you grief, either in word or deed, for the love of Lord Jesus Christ from whom you hope to have forgiveness yourself?”
William scarcely moved his head.
“Would you have all things in your possession given back, and leave and forsake all your worldly goods if you cannot make satisfaction in any other way?”
William nodded, but somewhat reluctantly.
“Do you believe fully that Christ died for you and that you will never be saved but by the merit of Christ’s Passion, and do you thank God with your heart as much as you may?”
Master John had spotted a momentary reluctance and, for the sake of William’s soul, that it might forever live in Heaven with Almighty God and with his holy company, he pressed the dying man further. Had he always honestly calculated the tithes that were due to the Church and rendered them in full? Should he not make provision for the payment of a few shillings to make amends for those tithes and other dues which he had withheld unwittingly?
William wearily signaled his agreement, but the priest did not relent. William was wealthy and one of the more powerful men in the village, despite being a villein by blood and therefore of lowly legal status. William and his fellow villeins had never been, as the letter of the law would have it, at the mercy of their lord’s whim, since custom rather than caprice governed relationships in Walsham, as elsewhere in Suffolk. William possessed substantial landholdings, for the bulk of which he paid little rent in money to his lord, though somewhat more in labor and other dues. He had inherited most of his land from his father, but throughout his life he had systematically acquired more land by astute purchases, sometimes from poorer peasants who could not repay money he had lent them. Some of his land William farmed, with the help of his sons and hired laborers, but he also leased out some of it and cottages at high rents, taking advantage of the scarcity of plots and living accommodations in the bustling village.
As one of the prominent tenants, William had often acted as the landlord’s agent by serving as reeve, and as hayward and rent collector on the manor, which had brought him profit as well as power. In exercising the considerable authority these offices gave him, William had sometimes clashed with villagers and treated them harshly. Although not an unpopular man nor thought of as unjust, Master John knew from stories in the village that William had on occasion taken advantage of his position to profit from the weakness of others by lending them money at very high rates of interest, by delaying payment for goods that he bought from them, and by paying some folk less than the goods were truly worth. It was also firmly embedded in the folk memory of the village that, when a young, talented, but recklessly ambitious man, William had been involved in a spectacular dispute with a rich Ipswich merchant, John Baude. Spotting William’s talent and energy during a trading trip to Walsham, Baude had entered into a business venture with him. This involved Baude entrusting William with the huge sum of £8 to invest locally on his behalf. However, some of the speculations William made in grain and wool were risky and went seriously wrong when the price of the commodities fell. A sizable part of the money was lost, and William was found guilty of failing to provide proper accounts.
Nevertheless, despite these past sins and misdemeanors William waved the priest away and obstinately denied that there was any serious wrongdoing during his life for which he needed to make recompense. Resisting the urgings of his anxious sons, William became angry and murmured, “Far more people have treated me badly than have been mistreated by me, and there are some who have so wronged me that I can never forgive them.” He began to name names, but the priest stopped him and urged, “Put aside anger against those who have offended you and remember that you cannot rely on your own good works, but only on the love of Christ.”
At this point William closed his eyes and refused to respond. Instead he lay back on his bed, groaning and sighing. Everyone in the room became concerned. William had come very close to avoiding damnation by confessing his sins, affirming his faith, abandoning the false treasures of this world, and placing himself in Christ’s hands, but now his soul was once again in jeopardy.
The priest motioned to the family, friends, and neighbors who were crowded around the bed to draw close to him and said, “Men that are dying, in their last sickness and end have the greatest and most grievous temptations, such as they never had before in all their life. The hard storm of the perilous assault of the fiend is upon them! And we should assume that these fiends are most eager to tempt men and women in the hour of their death, to encumber men at the last stand, to make them have an evil end and so be damned.”
Master John went on to his rapt audience: “There are invisible demons here in this room, perched even on the pillow by William’s head, who will fight against Holy Church for his soul, prevent wishes being put into words, encourage despair by showing all the sins that have been committed, and threaten to drag his soul to Hell with them. But with the rites of Holy Church and the succor and refreshment of Our Lady, and the prayers of the saints and all the faithful, including you here today, the demons cannot do their will and they shall be sent flying away.”
With that he gave the brightly painted wooden figure of the Madonna and child to William’s youngest son to hold by his father’s head. With healthy red cheeks, flaxen hair, kind blue eyes, and gently smiling red lips, Mary seemed almost to be present beside William in the flickering half-light of candles and setting sun. Her sympathetic authority and composure, combined with the sumptuousness of her swirling scarlet gown, decorated with gilded and sapphire roses and crosses, imparted both compassion and majesty, as Master John intoned, “For the Mother of Mercy will pray her Son to give him a place in Heaven and, as the empress of Hell who has power over demons, command them to harass his soul no longer. Go your way and let him have rest” (see figure 6).
With this Master John took his sprinkler and scattered holy water into the four corners of the room, and almost at once the atmosphere seemed, to those gathered around the dying man’s bed, to become much calmer. With prompting from his anxious sons, William grudgingly admitted that there might have been fault on both sides in the violent quarrel that had erupted years before with the Packards over unpaid debts, which had led to the ongoing feud between the families. However, try as he might, Master John could not get William to forgive Alice Packard for assaulting his wife and splitting open her head, saying it was for his dead wife to have forgiven Alice while she was still alive. But his eldest son prompted William to remember that he had dealt harshly with Adam Syre more than ten years before by refusing to pay him the barley he owed, and that the Syres had suffered through the winter and their young daughter had died. William then nodded in agreement that 12d should be paid to Adam’s widow in recompense. Finally he affirmed, with Master John’s prompting, that he expressly asked pardon from God and also from all those he had wittingly or unwittingly offended.
With evident satisfaction at having done all he could to save a soul, Master John quickly pronounced absolution: “Ego auctoritate dei patris omnipotentis et beatorum apostolorum petri et pauli et officii michi missi in hac parte absoluto te ab hiis peccatis michi per te confessis et ab aliis de quibus non recordaris. In nomine patris et filii et spiritus sancti, Amen.”
Family and friends sighed with relief that William had made his peace, and he sank back with exhaustion. To the satisfaction of those present, William, though silent, was able to seal his contrition with a gift of 2s toward the costs of keeping the light of the Blessed Virgin Mary burning perpetually in the church, a donation of 12d for the repair of the rear door of the church, where the oak had splintered and the wind whistled through, and alms of 4s to be given to twenty-four poor people of the village on the day of his burial, and the same amount seven days later.
“Into Thy hands O Lord I commend my spirit. You have redeemed me O Lord, thou God of truth.” The priest encouraged William to repeat the words of Psalm 31 after him, but William did not stir. The priest and his assistants now moved swiftly as William lay as if in a deep sleep. Observing from experience the signs of imminent death, Master John began commending William into God’s hands by quietly but resonantly saying, “In manus tuas,” while the chaplain, subdeacon, and servers chanted psalms. Pouring small quantities of oil into his palms from the flask hanging on his belt, John anointed William on his forehead and on the back of his hands and his feet, thereby sealing the forgiveness of sins and protection for the soul. Then, turning to the window with his back to those present in the room, he raised the precious ivory box above his head, saying softly, “Hoc est corpus meum. This is my body.” Handing the box to an assistant, he turned back to face the room and broke off a small fragment of the wafer. Once again saying, “Hoc est corpus meum,” he placed it into William’s mouth and shook him gently to rouse him, while those gathered around fell to their knees.
Master John placed the rest of the wafer in his own mouth and swallowed it, but William’s jaws did not move and he did not swallow. After waiting a few moments, the priest pushed the fragment farther into William’s mouth with his finger. But, to the horror of the assembly, William coughed and fragments flew from his mouth and settled around his lips and chin. The priest remained calm and carefully gathered all the sodden fragments together and crumbled them into a small chalice into which he had poured a little wine. Prompted by a server, he found another trace on William’s chest and added it to the wine, which he stirred. He motioned for William’s head to be raised slightly and his mouth to be opened. Swirling the chalice, he poured the wine and fragments of wafer into his mouth, which he then held firmly closed while William gently spluttered. When he was satisfied that William had ingested the wafer, he took up the chalice himself and drained it.
Less than an hour later William died. After a straw and then a feather had been placed across his nostrils and mouth to confirm he had stopped breathing, William’s body was stripped and washed, with great care taken not to remove any of the holy oil. It was then lifted onto a clean white sheet on which a cross had been traced with ashes from the kitchen fire. William’s arms were folded across his chest and the sheet was wrapped tightly around him and tied, showing, as a neighbor remarked, that he was “clean shriven and cleansed of his sins by contrition of heart and by absolution.”
The shrouded body was lifted onto the large table that had been brought from the kitchen and, as William had wished, lighted tapers were placed at the four corners. Through that night William’s sons kept watch, and the next day a flow of villagers came to pay their respects and say prayers for him. It was agreed with satisfaction that William had died a good death.
Arrangements for the funeral and burial had been made sometime before William’s death, and a chaplain came to the house to confirm that the body would be taken to the church the next day and buried the day after. It was expected that many would attend. There would be a large procession from William’s house to the church and a grand feast after the burial. Candles were bought, the carter for the funeral cart was hired, and the purchase and preparation of the food and drink was begun.
Shortly after noon William’s body was placed in a coffin on the fine cart that was often used in Walsham as a hearse, and the coffin was covered with a purple pall. Many paupers, for their pennies, lined up around and behind the cart, dressed in clean smocks, some bearing torches or candles, others simple wooden crosses. A server stood before the horse with a bell that he rang with somber peals, and another carried a large latten cross. Gathered behind the cart was a group of clergy from Walsham and nearby Gislingham, and these were followed by a crowd of family, friends, and neighbors. As the procession moved off, the sound of St. Mary’s bells could just be heard in the distance. It was a loud, emotional, and dramatic procession, with much lamentation, many prayers, and the solemn chanting of the penitential psalms. In this way William was once again joined with his kin and with the whole village, and the village with the church.
On reaching St. Mary’s, the coffin, draped with the hearse cloth, was carried by six paupers down the aisle and placed on a trestle table before the altar with burning candles at its four corners. William’s body lay there through the day until at evensong the service of the Office of the Dead was begun by the reading of the seven penitential psalms. The air thick with incense, the coffin was sprinkled with holy water by a priest using a sprig of hyssop plucked from the bush in the churchyard.
“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”
This reading was followed by the Placebo Domine in Regione Vivorum, in which the clergymen were joined by three of the paupers, who each received an extra penny for being able to recite at least part of it from memory. A vigil over the body was kept overnight by a priest whom William’s sons had hired for the purpose, and soon after sunrise at matins the Dirige Dominus Meus in Conspectu Tuo Viam Meam was recited and then the Psalms of Passion. Following breakfast a solemn requiem Mass was celebrated for the repose of William’s soul.
In conducting each of the services, Master John was assisted by the lesser clergy of Walsham and a couple of acolytes from a neighboring parish, and in the congregation members of the Wodebite family were joined by a throng of parishioners. When the time of the burial drew near the church bell was rung, and two young boys were sent with handbells to inform the whole parish that William was being buried and exhort people to pray for him.
It was a fine day, and the coffin was carried into the sunlit churchyard where a grave had been dug for William immediately adjacent to the spot where his father and mother were thought to lie. The open coffin containing William’s body wrapped in a shroud was laid beside the grave. The congregation had swelled, and Master John cast his head around to survey them all—conversing, weeping, and praying—and called to them, “The sight of corpses and weeping maketh a man to think on his death, and is the chief help to put away sin. Wherefore each man and woman should make themselves ready; for we shall all die, and we know not how soon.”
Having raised his arms to hush the assembly, the priest began his sermon: “William lived close to the span of three score years and ten, but whoever might have lived a hundred years, when he comes to the death, he shall seem that he has lived but the space of an hour. Very seldom does any man, even among the religious and devout, prepare himself for death in advance, as he ought. For every man thinks he will live long and does not believe he will die soon. William had land and money and a large house, but he shall now have a hall whose roof touches his nose, and a garment of earth and worms.
“Here is a mirror for us all, a corpse brought to the church and then to the burial ground. God have mercy on him for his mercy and bring him unto his everlasting bliss. But, good men, you should understand that this corpse is brought to the church for three principal reasons. The first is to show us that he was meek and obedient during his life to God and to Holy Church. But since he oftentimes did wrong against God through pride, as we all do, therefore at his death he bequeaths his soul into God’s hands and his body to Holy Church. Just as a mother does not forsake the child who is obedient to her, so Holy Church receives each man who will obey and acknowledge his guilt with a purpose of amendment.
“The second reason is that mankind was made of the slime of the earth, and when a man dies he soon takes on the smell of death. Therefore, bodies are brought to be put in earth that is hallowed; for each corpse is earth and comes from the earth and lives on the earth and is, in the end, buried in the earth.”
At that moment William’s body was lifted from the coffin and lowered into the grave, while Master John sprinkled it again with holy water. Master John, ever willing to instruct his flock, pronounced, “He has a white sheet on him to show he has been cleanly shriven and cleansed of his sins by his heart’s contrition and by the absolution of Holy Church. His head is laid toward the east so that he will be more ready to see Christ who will come out of the east on Doomsday. He also has a wooden cross at his head, showing that he has the full right to be saved by Christ’s Passion, who died for him on a wooden cross. So that devils will have no power in his grave, I am sprinkling it with holy water. For it often happens that devils have the power to trouble a corpse which has not had the full sacraments of Holy Church, as William has had.”
As the earth was shoveled into the grave, Master John continued, “And the third reason for bringing William’s corpse to Holy Church is so that it can be helped by the prayers and sacraments of Holy Church. For we pray intently for all whose bodies rest inside the church or in the churchyard, and all who are brought to the church, and the joy of Our Lady also gives them great succor and refreshment. Then the demons shall go flying away yelling, for they cannot do their will.
“Thus you shall know, good men and women, that for these three reasons corpses are brought to Holy Church to be buried. Therefore, each man and woman who is wise, make yourself ready. For we all shall die and we know not how soon.”
Solemnity soon gave way to jollity as trestle tables had been laid with copious quantities of ale, bread, roasted meats, and offal on the grass against the wall of the church for all who wished to come and to remember William in their prayers. It was a splendid feast, but the older guests spoke in awed tones, as they often did on such occasions, of the wondrous banquets that were thrown for the funeral and anniversary of William Lene, the richest villein ever seen in Walsham, who had died sixteen years before. Six wethers, four piglets, twelve geese, twenty cockerels, and a whole bullock had been roasted and flavored with rare spices, the finest ale had flowed like water, and the wheat for the bread alone had cost 9s. Over two hundred people had attended, and almost five hundred pennies had been given to the poor on the day of Lene’s burial and at the Mass held a week later. It was equally as wondrous that he had left no less than 60s for a Mass to be said for him every day for a whole year after his death, and had given careful instructions that a pilgrim should be sent to the shrine of St. Thomas of Lancaster, who had been beheaded for treason at Pontefract Castle in 1322.
Soon the conversation of the old men and women turned to stories of Lene’s support for the rebellious earl when he had fought unsuccessfully against the previous king, and how he and other villagers had given aid to the army of Queen Isabella and Mortimer four years later when it had overnighted close to the village on its march across Suffolk to depose the wicked monarch.
High as he stood in wealth and prestige among his contemporaries, William Wodebite inevitably paled in comparison with such a legendary villager as William Lene. Nonetheless, Wodebite’s death was an important event in the village, and his funeral feast was judged a fine affair. So too was the dinner seven days later for family and friends, after a service to commemorate his death had been held in the church. In between the two services William Hawys, the manor reeve, called at the Wodebite house to collect one of William’s draft horses that the brothers had agreed to surrender to the lord as the death duty on his estate, and a servant called on behalf of the priest to collect a steer as a mortuary payment to the church.
As Master John had often said, “Souls are drawn up out of Purgatory by prayers,” and William’s soul was repeatedly succored by the prayers of all who attended the parish church. His sons had paid for special daily Masses to be said for their father for a month after his death, and for many weeks after that William was specifically named in the collective prayers regularly said for the souls of all departed parishioners. Prompted by the priest, William’s children had also paid a small sum before the funeral for a special obituary Mass to be held on the anniversary of their father’s death the next summer. They also outlined plans to hold an obit feast after this service for friends and neighbors who attended the service, and for some of the poor and sick of the parish. In such ways William’s soul would continue to be aided by the prayers of the living.