TIME Family

What It’s Really Like to Care for a Dying Parent

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Despite everyone's best efforts, my mom is clearly, obviously dying

xojane

There are two things that movies consistently get wrong: sex and death.

Just like no real-life sex scene has ever involved seamless, body-fluid-free sex (I, for one, seem to consistently get stuck in my skinny jeans while covertly trying to take them off), very few deaths are the simple, dignified situations we see portrayed on screen. Death, real death, is a messy, confusing process for everyone involved.

A few months ago I wrote an article for xoJane about my mother, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. At the time she had plateaued. Roughly three weeks ago, however, that changed.

Determined to walk, she hauled herself out of bed — and promptly fractured her pelvis. At the time, she was still receiving treatment — now she’s in hospice. As terrible as it was before, this is worse. She is completely bedridden and has a catheter. Despite everyone’s best efforts, she immediately got a UTI and yeast infection upon arriving home. She’s restless — she’s scared. What little she says rarely makes sense. She is clearly, obviously dying.

How do you care for someone who is dying? We all have a pretty good idea of what it means to nurse someone back to health, but how do you compassionately nurse them into death?

Even typing that raises my hackles a little. We live in a society that prizes life — by any means, in any shape — above all else, so reconciling that programming with what is clearly worse than death is difficult, to say the least. I am completely pro-choice and very much believe assisted suicide should be legal. But nevertheless, the ethical dance I’m doing now feels fraught with peril. I usually lay my mom’s pills out with her breakfast. She doesn’t ask for food or water, but I still bring them.When she does eat, she doesn’t eat much — a bite here and there.

And don’t even get me started on the morphine. She’s agitated a lot of the time — to the point of attempting to to get out of bed — and morphine helps calm her. But is it wrong to administer it in order to relieve psychic, not physical, pain? While the fracture is painful, the truth is I dose her more for the agitation than for the pain. Is that merciful, or profoundly messed up?

These are the questions I wrestle with daily. I know my mom — she would have never wanted to live like this. One of the last clear things she said to me when she was diagnosed was that she didn’t want to dwindle.

I can see the pain and frustration on her face when I tell her she can’t walk, or when I have to clean her after a bowel movement. But at the same time, I’m not sure where my place is in this process. She is mostly non-communicative, so I can only guess at what she wants. I have asked her if she’s tired, if she’s ready to let go — her only response is a blank stare.

Recently, I met with a social worker to discuss mortuaries, and on the back page of the packet she gave me there was a section regarding donating the body for scientific purposes, specifically the eyes. I felt like I’d been sucker punched. I believe in donating one’s organs for the greater good, but how do you make that decision for someone else? I know my mom is an organ donor, but…which organs? How many organs? Is there really a moral difference between donating someone’s eyes and donating someone’s kidneys, or am I just being squeamish?

The only organ donors you see on “Grey’s Anatomy” are car accident fatalities. No one ever talks about mulling over whether or not to give someone’s organs away while they’re still conscious in another room.

Tomorrow will be the one-year anniversary of my mom’s diagnosis. She’s made it much farther than anyone ever predicted, but I can’t pretend that I believe that’s a good thing. A family friend told me that I’d look back and treasure this extra time I was able to spend with my mom — I wish that were true, but it isn’t. I’ve watched her do exactly what she stated she didn’t want to do — dwindle. It’s horrific, and I know neither she nor I expected it to be like this.

Which is why I’m writing this article — I think it’s important to open a frank dialogue about what it means to die. How do we help our loved ones die? What, exactly, do heroic measures mean to different individuals? For one person it might be CPR, but for another, it might be administering any medication at all, down to steroids or anticonvulsants. What are tolerable living circumstances — i.e., what happens if you become bed bound? Incontinent??

These are tough questions, and they’re usually brought up too late, whispered shamefully in the corridor of a hospital. But my hope is that, just like we’ve learned to discuss with our children what they should actually expect from sex, we’ll someday be able to talk openly to one another about what we can really expect from death.

Gracie F. is a writer and contributor to xoJane. This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Australia

Eight Children Found Dead at Home in Australia’s Far North

Police carry equipment near a road block outside a house where eight children have been found dead  in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, Australia, Friday Dec. 19, 2014.
Graeme Bint—AP Police carry equipment near a road block outside a house where eight children have been found dead in the Cairns suburb of Manoora, Australia, Friday Dec. 19, 2014.

Community preparing for the festive season receives devastating shock

Eight children, ranging in age from 18 months to 15 years, were found dead inside a home in the northern Australian city of Cairns on Friday.

Police went to the house in the suburb of Manoora after receiving reports of an injured woman, the Associated Press said. On arrival, the police found the bodies of the children inside the residence. They were reportedly stabbed.

The 34-year-old woman, believed to be the mother of seven of the children, is currently being treated for her injuries, according to authorities. Police said they are unable to confirm her relationship to the victims, however, and added that she is not in custody for the time being.

The Queensland Ambulance Service says the woman had a wound to her chest, and is currently in stable condition after being taken to he hospital.

Dozens of police vehicles are at the scene, according to the ABC.

Cairns detective inspector Bruno Asnicar, speaking to reporters at around 4.30 p.m. local time, said the identification of the children is an ongoing process and more details on that front might emerge on Saturday. Asnicar also said that there were no formal suspects as yet. “Everybody who’s had any involvement in the past two or three days is a person of interest, but we’re not identifying particular suspects at this stage.”

The top police official said it was “right up there” with the most serious cases he had dealt with in his career.

“These are trying days for our country,” Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a statement released Friday afternoon. “All parents would feel a gut-wrenching sadness at what has happened.”

Friday’s incident comes four days after a gunman took more than a dozen people hostage at a café in Sydney, resulting in three deaths including his own.

TIME Aging

Study Finds Those Who Feel Younger Might Actually Live Longer

Close-up of senior couple holding hands while sitting
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A new study shows people who feel younger than their actual age live longer

People who feel three or more years younger than they actually are had lower death rates compared to people who felt their age or older, according to a recent study.

Two University College London researchers studied data collected from 6,489 men and women whose average age was 65.8. On average, people in the study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, felt closer to 56.8. Among the participants, 69.6% said their self-perceived age was three or more years younger than their chronological age, 25.6% said they felt their age or close to it, and only 4.8% felt older than they actually were.

When the researchers compared the self-perceived ages to death rates, they found that rates were lower among those who felt younger, compared to participants who felt their age or older.

Of course unrelated factors like disabilities and overall health played a role, but when the researchers adjusted for those factors, they still noted a 41% greater mortality risk for the people who said they felt old.

What’s driving this apparent phenomenon needs further assessment, but the authors suggested that people who feel younger may have greater resilience and will to live. “Self-perceived age has the potential to change, so interventions may be possible,” the authors write. “Individuals who feel older than their actual age could be targeted with health messages promoting positive health behaviors and attitudes toward aging,” the study concluded.

TIME celebrities

VH1 Star Stephanie Moseley and Husband Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide

T-Mobile Sidekick 4G Launch Celebration - Magenta Carpet Arrivals
Jeffrey Mayer—WireImage/Getty Images Stephanie Moseley arrives for the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G launch celebration in a Private Lot on April 20, 2011 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

She was a star of VH1's NBA cheerleading drama 'Hit the Floor'

Stephanie Moseley, a star of VH1’s NBA cheerleading drama Hit the Floor, and her husband, the rapper Earl Hayes, died Monday in a suspected murder-suicide, police confirmed to PEOPLE.

Los Angeles police responded early Monday to reports of shots being fired in Park La Brea, and found Moseley, 30, and Hayes, 34, in their apartment, both with gunshot wounds.

Both were pronounced dead at the scene. The initial investigation suggested Hayes shot Moseley to death and then took his own life, police said.

“We are incredibly saddened to hear the news of the passing of Stephanie Moseley,” VH1 said in a statement. “VH1 and the entire Hit The Floor family send our thoughts and condolences to her family and friends at this difficult time.”

Friends of the couple told L.A. TV station KTLA that they had been having problems.

“No situation’s perfect,” said Eva Marcille Pigford, a friend and fellow model. “Stephanie was an absolute angel. She really was … She’s connected so many people. She’s just loved. She will never, ever, ever, ever be forgotten.”

Moseley was born in Vancouver and drew acclaim as a dancer from a young age, according to the biography on her website. In her early 20s, she joined Britney Spears‘s dance crew and toured with her in the U.S. She also danced on a Janet Jackson tour.

Among her TV roles, she appeared as Jamie Foxx’s wife on his 2006 NBC special Jamie Foxx: Unpredictable.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Cricket

Cricketer Phillip Hughes Named as Posthumous 13th Man In Australian Team

Day 1 of the first Test match between Australia and India
DAVE HUNT—EPA Tributes to the late Phillip Hughes are seen outside the Adelaide Oval on day 1 of the first Test match between Australia and India in Adelaide, Australia, 09 December 2014.

Play has ended on day 1 of the first match played by the Australian side since the death of one of its young stars in a freak accident

Cricket teams consist of eleven players plus an extra player in the side called the twelfth man, who serves as a substitute in case someone gets injured.

On Tuesday in Adelaide, however, the Australian side that faced off against India posthumously added a “thirteenth man” — Phillip Hughes.

Hughes, who died on Nov. 27, was symbolically included in an Australian side playing its first match since his untimely death, the BBC reports. Black armbands were worn by the Australian players, who also bore his cap number, 408, on their white jerseys. The spectators were also asked to stand for 63 seconds of applause, symbolizing the 63-run score he had at the moment he was fatally injured.

Hughes died two days after being struck on the neck by a quick-rising ball known in cricket jargon as a “bouncer.” The 25-year-old batsman’s sudden demise shocked and saddened the cricketing world, with 5,000 people descending on his hometown to attend his funeral and tributes pouring in from around the globe.

“It’s going to be an emotional morning,” Australian player Mitchell Johnson said, right before his side went in to bat.

The home side ended Day One of the five-day test match having scored 354 runs for the loss of six wickets. Opening batsman David Warner — one of the first players to rush onto the field to aid Hughes moments after he was struck — scored 145 of those runs, in what is sure to be a meaningful, memorable innings regardless of the result.

TIME Family

An Open Letter to the Recipients of My Mom’s Donated Organs

Writing letter
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The letter that the Organ Donations Authorities deemed too “specific,” “identifiable," and “personal" -- here's what I would say to the recipients of my mom's donated organs if I were allowed

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

To whom it may concern:

Congratulations on your new organ!

As I write this, I realize that “congratulations” may come off as a slightly off-­putting greeting.

However, I truly mean it—congratulations. Please don’t take this as disingenuous.

You have overcome a great obstacle which I am sure seemed insurmountable at times. An new organ—be it a heart, lungs, a kidney, or a liver—breathes within you, and I want you to know that I recognize the battle you have fought to get here. For facing what you’ve faced, and overcoming what you’ve overcome, you deserve to be congratulated. You are alive and I hope you are well. Because that fresh, new, functioning organ that has reinvigorated the life your body so deeply craved, was once my mom’s.

Now, evidently I don’t know anything about you, and you know equally little about me. What I do know however, is that we have both participated in the cruel torture I like to refer to as the “Hospital Room Waiting Game.”

My waiting game consisted of paramedics, followed by nurses, followed by doctors, followed by surgeons—all delaying the inevitable. My waiting game ended in heartbreak and loss.

Your waiting game was a little bit different I’m sure; although much longer and no less emotionally ravaging. It is an odd comfort to me that yours ended on a better note than mine; because it was a gift my mom gave that allowed for that.

Over the past few months, you have crossed my mind often. I sometimes ponder how you made it through the waiting game. Perhaps you prayed, maybe to Jesus, or Allah, or Brahman. Or perhaps you meditated upon the wish you so deeply desired. Or perhaps you are not a spiritual person at all and you simply took a logical and systemic approach to the entire situation into which you were thrust.

In any case, whether you consider this new organ a blessing, a gift, a stroke of luck or purely the end result of a protocol­-based waiting list—I hope you make the most of it. Because before giving you new life; that fresh and healthy organ gave my mom life for 50 years.

In those short 50 years, my mom did a lot. She grew up surrounded by friends, family and an infamous dog named Skippy (with whom I’m sure she’s thrilled to be reunited). She had an outrageously wonderful set of parents who, together ­created the most uniquely charming blend of sweetness and sarcasm that I have ever witnessed. She matured, went to university, got married and had three children to whom she devoted her life. She became a mom like no other; and we became young adults, she turned into a friend like no other.

She saw her marriage break down and experienced heartbreak and devastation of proportions so monumental I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. She saw darkness and she felt pain; but then she rose from the ashes, coming out stronger than ever before. She laughed and she cried. She indulged in Pinot Grigio, coffee, and handbags. And in an incomparably beautifully courageous way, she forgave. And shortly thereafter, she fell in love again.

She was a friend, a sister, an aunt and a daughter. She was a partner, a lover, a partner ­in ­crime and a teacher. But more than anything—my mom was a mother.

You and I have more than the “Hospital Room Waiting Game” in common. We have both been blessed with the gift of life thanks to my mom (albeit, in a very different way). This is something that has been easy for me to take for granted throughout the 23 years of my life. However, now as I navigate the problematic and oftentimes seemingly impossible task of re­defining myself without the title of “daughter,” I can see how thoughtless this was of me. I hope that at the very least, we both can take this away as a lesson.

The day my mom died the sky was bright blue. It came as a literal breath of fresh air after the longest, coldest and snowiest winter in recent memory. My mom and I shared a cup of tea over breakfast before going our separate ways; placing the leftovers went in the fridge to be eaten at lunch. It was nearly a month before I brought myself to throw them away (and yes — the mold that had grown was ghastly).

Since that day, I have spent seven months thinking about what my mom would do, say or think about every little thing that occurs in the span of a day.

I wonder if she would like the sandwich I had at lunch. I wonder if she would enjoy the new song on the radio. I wonder if she would be proud of me in my new job, and if she would like the outfit I bought last weekend. I wonder what she would say about this, and I wonder what she would say about that.

The wondering is a relentless record spinning in my mind, never ceasing to play the same song on repeat.

However, as I move forward (but not on—I’ll never move on from my mom), I have realized that I don’t need to wonder so much. Sure, I may never know if she likes the boots I chose to wear to dinner last Friday, or if she agrees that my hair really needs a trim—but the important stuff—the values and beliefs and life lessons that she would want me to make the foundation of my life—well, that I already know. I know it because she taught me. Sometimes inadvertently, and sometimes intentionally. Either way; in the way parents should should, she left me with life lessons more valuable than any physically tangible inheritance. For that, I am grateful.

Now, I know I already stated that we really don’t know one another and because of this I realize it is far from my place to ask anything of you. However, if I may humbly do so, I ask that you might bear with me as I elaborate upon these guiding principles I believe my mom would want to be her lasting legacy. Whether you take them to heart or not is your choice and your choice alone. But for a reason which I cannot begin to put into words, it is important to me that you somehow know her; as impossible as that may sound. And since she is gone, the only way I can fathom for me to bring her to life and allow this to happen is through the written word.

1. My mom’s life was cut short at 50 years. And while those 50 years were full in many, many ways she had dreams and plans that were yet to be fulfilled. These were the dreams and plans that we talked about over dinner or a glass of wine; always laughing and imagining.

They were “someday,” “one day,” “far­away” dreams. In my mom’s passing, I know that she would not want anyone to procrastinate their plans.

Life is short. Embrace the cliché and seize the day.

2. My mom was never boring. Sure, at first glance she may have appeared to be the “typical mom,” but anyone who knew her will attest that that was far from the case. With a cackling laugh rivaled only by the Wicked Witch of the West, she had a wild way about her that made even the most monotonous of chores fun. She proved to everyone who crossed her path that even in the darkest days, there is light to be found.

Life is meant to be sweet. Find your bliss.

3. Oftentimes when someone passes it is all too easy to look back on your memories of them through a rose-­coloured lens. It seems to be human nature to idealize the past. While we often do this with our loved ones, for some reason I don’t find myself doing this with my mom. Maybe this is because she was never shy when it came to her flaws. She knew her faults and she accepted her imperfections. She laughed at herself and took advantage of opportunities to grow every day. She was not perfect and she was the first to admit it.

Nobody’s perfect, don’t dwell on your faults.

4. When we celebrated my mom’s life, the daughters of her best friend performed “Hands” by Jewel, one of my mom’s favorite songs. The refrain “In the end, only kindness matters” is repeated throughout the song. This is a lesson my mom unremittingly reminded me and my siblings throughout our lives; reminding us that when dusk falls ­as long as you can lay in bed at night and feel good about the kind of person you were that day, then you have achieved the most important thing of all.

The world can be cruel, don’t let it harden you. Kindness matters.

She was full of lessons from the very start. I know this “list” may come off as though I’m attempting to tell you how to live your life; and I apologize if that’s how you’ve taken it. More or less, I think the reason I am sharing these ideals with you is that I simply hope you are curious. Curious about the organ inside you and the person to whom it once belonged. Curious about the donor who gave you the gift of life.

The reality is that the mere thought of my mom’s heart continuing to pump and her lungs continuing to breathe is a simultaneously unnerving and beautiful idea. And as much as her organ donation may be a gift to you, truth be told, your acceptance of her organ is a gift to me.

Knowing that a piece of her lives on provides me with an odd sense of comfort that goes beyond conceivable expression.

At my mom’s funeral, I delivered the eulogy during which I spoke about you and your family. I looked around the church and noted the large crowd, saying that while we all may be mourning it is a striking thought to know that in her death, there are crowds just like us elsewhere across the country celebrating today. Celebrating because their loved one has been given the chance for life.

Celebrating because their prayers, meditations, wishes, hopes and dreams have come true. Celebrating because even in her death; my mom (in true “mom” fashion) gave life.

So once again, congratulations. I hope you live your life to the fullest. I wish you well.

Heather Varner is a writer living in Canada.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Soccer

Player Killed in Argentina’s 15th Soccer-Related Death This Year

A fan of Argentine soccer team Boca Juniors confronts police during riots after celebrations of Boca Juniors Fan Day in Buenos Aires
Marcos Brindicci—Reuters A fan of Argentine soccer team Boca Juniors confronts police during riots after celebrations of Boca Juniors Fan Day in downtown Buenos Aires December 12, 2013.

Soccer-related violence is rife in the South American country

An Argentine soccer player died on Wednesday after being attacked by a group of hooligans, an incident that highlights the South American country’s ever-present problem with violence around the sport.

Franco Nieto was attacked Saturday as he was getting into to his car with his wife and one-month-old daughter, the Associated Press reported. Nieto, the captain of Rosario-based team Tiro Federal, had just finished playing a match against Buenos Aires club Chacarita Juniors in which eight players were ejected by the referee for fighting.

The attackers punched and kicked the 33-year-old player before one of them hit him on the head with a stone, according to police in Aimogasta, some 750 miles northwest of the capital. He was taken to the hospital but succumbed to his injuries on Wednesday.

Nieto’s demise raises the death toll from soccer-related incidents in Argentina to 15 this year, according to an NGO called Salvemos al Football (Let’s Save Football). In a country where the sport is seen as a way out of poverty, and rags-to-riches stars like Diego Maradona and Carlos Tevez are revered, being a part of the Barras Bravas — the gangs that control the streets around stadiums — is considered almost as prestigious.

The gangs, aside from carrying feuding with rival clubs, are also involved in the trade of illegal drugs and weapons as well as money laundering, according to the BBC. This often leads not just to incidents like Nietos death, but often to drive-by-shootings and gunfights in the streets.

The Argentina Football Association has taken steps to curb soccer-related violence, including preventing those with criminal records from entering stadiums and even banning away fans across the country. But many say the widespread corruption among local police and politicians, which has allowed the Barras Bravas to thrive, makes this a somewhat futile endeavor.

TIME People

A Notorious Nazi War Criminal Died in Syria Four Years Ago

Alois Brunner, Lieutenant Of Eichmann, Sentenced To Death In Absentia On May 3, 1954 In Paris-
Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images Alois Brunner, Lieutenant Of Eichmann, Sentenced To Death In Absentia On May 3, 1954 In Paris

Alois Brunner, an SS captain who was a key proponent of the holocaust, was apparently advising the Assad regime on torture

A Nazi officer who was responsible for the deaths of over 128,000 Jews probably died in Syria four years ago, a leading Nazi hunter has revealed.

Former SS Captain Alois Brunner had been advising the Assad regime on torture techniques and was 98 when he died, the Sunday Express reported. Brunner, long one of the world’s most-wanted war criminals and a chief lieutenant of holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann, reportedly fled to Syria in the 1950s and subsequently survived two assassination attempts by Israeli spy agency Mossad.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel branch of a human rights foundation called The Simon Weisenthal Centre and a leading Nazi hunter, first broke the news of Brunner’s death and said the confirmation came from a former German secret agent who served in the Middle East. The Centre has taken Brunner’s name off its list of wanted Nazis, but Zuroff said they have been unable to confirm his demise forensically due to the Syrian civil war.

“Given his age it would not be surprising and the information came from someone who we consider reliable,” Zuroff said.

Brunner sent thousands of Jews to concentration camps before fleeing the country after the end of World War II, working as a weapons dealer in Egypt and then moving to Syria under the pseudonym Dr. Georg Fischer.

“He was a notorious anti-Semite, sadist, fanatic Nazi,” Zuroff told the New York Times. “The only known interview we have with him was to a German newsmagazine in 1985, in which he was asked if he had any regrets, and he said, ‘My only regret is I didn’t murder more Jews.’”

TIME Know Right Now

Know Right Now: The Hidden Dangers of Cricket

Two deaths in one week shine a spotlight on the "gentleman's game"

A 60-year-old cricket umpire in Israel died from injuries sustained after being struck in the face with a cricket ball during a match Saturday.

Just two days prior to that, Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, 25, died after being hit in the head by a ball as a result of a quick, rising pitch called a “bouncer.” Deaths in cricket—one of the world’s most popular sports—are extremely rare, but bowlers pitch their balls at speeds of up to 100 mph, and most on the field don’t wear protective gear.

Following the tragic events, Australia’s chief executive for cricket, James Sutherland said Cricket Australia will be reviewing safety procedures and protocol for players.

TIME Cricket

Two Deaths Within a Week Makes Cricket Safety Conversation Get Louder

The death of an Israeli umpire hit by a cricket ball on Saturday came two days after the demise of Australian rising star Phillip Hughes

In the conversation about the dangers of global sport, cricket is not the first (or even the fifth) one that springs to mind. Popularly known as “the gentleman’s game,” it generally doesn’t receive the sort of negative attention that sports like American football have recently.

But two shocking fatalities within the past week have thrust a global spotlight on the potential risks of a storied pastime that is only played regularly by about a dozen countries. A 60-year-old Israeli umpire died on Saturday after being struck by a ball during a match in the country’s Western city of Ashdod. Hillel Oscar, a former national team captain, was rushed to hospital but declared dead on arrival after the ball rebounded off a wicket and hit him in the face, according to the Associated Press. Unlike baseball, cricket umpires stand directly across from the batsman right next to where the bowler releases the ball — and without any protective gear.

But death or even serious injury to umpires are even more infrequent than to players, with only a 2009 incident involving Wales’ Alcwyn Jenkins the only such fatality in recent memory, according to the BBC. (Fractured fingers when the ball strikes the gloved hand gripping the hard bat handle are some of the most common injuries.)

Saturday’s incident came at a time when the cricket fraternity is still reeling from the sudden demise of 25-year-old Australian batsman Phillip Hughes two days earlier. Hughes was struck on the side of the head Tuesday by a quick, rising ball known as a “bouncer,” severing a vertebral artery in what many are calling a freak accident.

Although blunt trauma from a cricket ball is an infrequent occurrence and fatalities are even rarer, there have been instances of both in the past — including one with eerie similarities to Hughes. The inherent danger of fast bowling, where a five-and-a-half ounce cricket ball made of cork and leather is often used to directly target batsmen’s faces and bodies at close to a 100 miles per hour, has prompted a few rule changes in the past.

The most notable of these was the 1933 “bodyline” controversy between England and Australia, where the English bowlers adopted a strategy of bowling quick, short balls straight at the bodies of Australian batsman. The tactic caused a lot of bad blood between the two countries, and even spilled over to the diplomatic arena. The laws of the game were subsequently amended to restrict the number of fielders in the immediate vicinity of the batsman that made bodyline bowling effective, and the danger posed by a bowler was placed at the discretion of the umpire.

“The bowling of fast short pitched balls is dangerous and unfair if the bowler’s end umpire considers that by their repetition and taking into account their length, height and direction they are likely to inflict physical injury on the striker irrespective of the protective equipment he may be wearing,” the current law states, with an addendum stating that “the relative skill of the striker shall be taken into consideration.”

The International Cricket Council, the sport’s governing body, issued a directive in 1991 limiting the number of “bouncers” a bowler could bowl to one every six balls. That number was increased to two after players protested vociferously, but returned to one in 2001. But one in six deliveries is still a relatively high frequency, and the short ball remains a commonly employed intimidation tactic.

“I think the danger is for young cricketers to be steered away from being exposed to the short ball,” said Shaun Seigert, head coach of Australia’s Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy, in an interview with TIME. “I think it needs to go the other way,” he added, explaining that young cricketers who are not taught to face this kind of bowling have a tougher time developing the instinct to deal with it when they enter the big leagues.

Hughes’s death has also initiated a conversation around safety equipment in cricket, with the company that manufactured the helmet he was wearing stating that their latest version affords more protection to the area of the body where he was struck.

Helmets only became common in the 1970s, and are only generally worn by the two batsmen on the field and the wicketkeeper (equivalent of baseball’s “catcher”), although fielders placed standing extremely close to the batsmen at a position aptly named “silly point” sometimes don them. The other outfielders — unlike those in baseball — are not usually protected by any gloves or other padding, and dislocated fingers are another common occurrence from mistimed catches.

But many argue that no amount of protection can completely negate the risks of the game, and Hughes’ death — however freakish — serves as a warning against complacency.

“We wouldn’t want anyone wearing a helmet designed to the new standards to think that they were invulnerable,” the New York Times quoted Professional Cricketers Association chief Angus Porter as saying. “A cricket ball is a hard and potentially dangerous object, whatever protection you are wearing.”

Porter’s statement stems from the argument that helmets prompt cricketers to take shots and risks that they might not otherwise, not unlike NFL players hurling themselves into dangerous tackles that unprotected rugby players would avoid.

Seigert, whose students are just a couple of years younger than Hughes was, says that is a fair assessment. “You probably may not respect the short ball as you would if you hadn’t got a helmet on,” Seigert says, stressing again that the reduction in consequences that helmets afford may prevent youngsters from learning the proper techniques. “You tend to see a lot of players now that don’t really move their feet [to the optimum striking distance of the ball],” he explains.

The veteran coach says that although safety equipment is a factor that needs to be taken into consideration, there is no substitute for facing the short ball head on, both literally and figuratively.

“We tend to wrap our kids up in cotton wool, but is that really preparing them for the world?”

Read next: Tributes Pour in for Late Australian Cricketer Phillip Hughes

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