The Mind of Bluesleepy

Somewhat morbid… 4 December 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluesleepy @ 4:40 pm

OK, this post is going to be somewhat morbid, but an article in today’s paper got me thinking.

Kurt and I have talked about what would happen to our bodies if we were to die.  Neither of us particularly want to be buried.  Kurt thinks it’s a waste of time and money, and I think it’s a waste of space.

To that end, both of us have agreed to be cremated.  I know we need to get it in writing, but I have told my parents that this is what I want, so if I go before Kurt does, I know my parents won’t interfere with Kurt having me cremated.

If Kurt goes before I do, I will have him cremated.  But what to do with his ashes?

If I can afford it, I would like to send a tiny speck of them up into space, like they did with Gene Roddenberry.  Kurt loves astronomy and all things space-related so much that it would be a fitting end.

I would also like to have his ashes become part of the coral reef, since scuba diving is one of his other major interests.  That way he can rest eternally among the fishes in one of his favorite spots on Earth.

I can’t really understand why people go all out for funerals and burying people in cemeteries.  I can see the attraction of having a place to go to visit with your loved one, like at a burial plot, but why go in for the concrete vaults and the embalming?

Today’s paper featured an article (much like this one, although not quite the same) on so-called “green cemeteries.”  They’re cemeteries in which people are not embalmed before being buried in cardboard or wooden boxes, so that remains decompose and become part of the earth.  Instead of having huge, expensive, carved headstones, flat rocks serve as markers for the various graves.

What’s not to like?  No expensive casket (caskets can run thousands of dollars!), no concrete vault, no embalming.   I really don’t understand the need for these things.  I know my aunt was embalmed when she died at the age of 55 in 1997, and her burial plot featured a concrete vault and a fancy stone once it was carved.  I don’t know where the money came from for all this; my real mother’s family is not rich.  But I remember thinking, “Why do this?  What is the point?  Shouldn’t we just be allowed to decompose and feed the earth from which we came?”

The folks who run the funeral industry say it’s bad to put people in the ground without proper precautions, like a concrete vault, a hardwood casket, and being embalmed.  They fear a spread of disease if non-embalmed people are buried and decompose, leaching germs into the groundwater.

But what about leaching all that metal from the casket and the embalming fluid (which contains formaldehyde, a possible carcinogen) into our groundwater?  Wouldn’t that be of more concern than burying the dead the way we have for thousands of years?

The funeral industry also points to the trauma of burying your loved one too soon.  It’s better to wait, they say, to give the family time to grieve.  That, in my humble opinion, is no reason at all to embalm a body and wait a week before burying it.  People in other cultures bury a person almost as soon as he dies with no ill effects to their psyches.

Personally, I think we Americans have distanced ourselves too far from death, but that’s a rant for another day.

Practicing Jews do not utilize embalming, and it’s required by Jewish law to bury the body as quickly after death as possible.  Thousands of Jews die each day without being embalmed because it is not required in any state.  It is merely highly recommended.

Besides, I like to think that once a person has died, it’s only their shell that goes into the ground.  The spirit lives on, either in Heaven (if I’m in the mood to believe in Heaven that day), or watching over the loved ones left behind.  Why preserve a shell?  It’s no longer connected to the person that I loved.

I know that not everyone feels the same way I do, and I respect that.  This is just my opinion, and what I would like to be done with my body once I am done using it.

And to end on a slightly comical note — my grandma, as you know, is 80, and so is well aware of her mortality.  Her beloved cat Mosey died probably ten years ago, and she so loved Moe that she had the kitty cremated.  The cat’s ashes are in a teapot urn on top of her china closet, and each time I see my grandma, she reminds me that when she dies, she’s to be cremated, and Mosey’s ashes are to be mixed with Grandma’s before scattering.

My grandma sure did love her cat!


13 Responses to “Somewhat morbid…”

  1. chaosdaily Says:

    i kind of like the idea of cremation, but i have this thing about fire….. so im not sure if i could go for that. although…. im sure i wouldnt feel it after im dead!!!

  2. Rosietoes Says:

    I think Kahlil Gibran said it best, this is from his “Beauty of Death”

    With soft steps
    take me to a verdant cradle
    in the distant countryside.
    Cover me with handfuls of earth
    and with iris, jasmine
    and wild rose seeds.

    They will germinate on my grave
    and breathe in the elements of my body.
    And so they will grow,
    wafting through the air
    my heart’s perfume,
    and showing to the sun
    the secrets of my hands;
    and they will bend with the breeze,
    recalling to the passer-by
    my dreams and inclinations
    of bygone days…

  3. purple chai Says:

    My husband wants to go to a “body farm”, some new thing where they just leave bodies out in the open somewhere so that medical students and the like can study the effects of decomposition on the body. Well, that icks me out. Cremation for me for sure.

  4. Shear Says:

    I love the idea of “green” cemeteries. I actually watched a documentary on that very thing a few months ago. There’s no way that you would ever know it was a cemetery. They have very specific maps and photos of the “plots”. They were marked with bolders or stones. Very pleasant to look at. Flowers were planted on some plots. Trees on others. I really do like this idea. Thanks!

  5. sleepyjane Says:

    Wow. I have to say that I agree with you. I believe that once we have passed the body that’s left behind was only the ‘vessel’ or ‘shell’.

    And I like the idea of the green cemeteries.

  6. acaldwell Says:

    well, its like this, if you get creamated, not only do you burn up the body, but your spirit too, and you wont reincarnate. dont creamate, reincarnate!

  7. clairec23 Says:

    I don’t care what they do with my body, I won’t know about it 😉

    My mother sent me a text message at like 4am a couple of weeks ago telling me she’s changed her mind, she wants to be cremated and her ashes spread over her grandparents grave. She’s getting very morbid of late…

  8. h2ophobic Says:

    When my son Jeff was killed, we had him cremated. Several friends and relatives suggested “meaningful” places to scatter his ashes. That wasn’t for me. I plan to keep him with me until the day I die. Then someone else can make the decision what to do. His ashes are in a beautiful wooden box that I look at every day. I put his favorite baseball cap on top of the box and I tell him I love him every day and blow him a kiss.

  9. oleandlena Says:

    Ole wants Lovely Daughter to ride his Harley down the highway, hold up the container holding his ashes and let them blow in the wind.

  10. michele Says:

    i didn’t find your entry to be morbid at all! and, i’m with you as well. i want to be creamated and then i want a huge party where all the balloons are orange and the flowers are white roses, tiger lilies and orange sunflowers! i would love my ashes to be sprinkled/buried at the base of a Royal palm tree… they’re my fave. (at least i think that’s the species i like)

  11. karmacat Says:

    I totally agree with you on the space issue.

    All my immediate family has expressed a desire to have our bodies cremated. I don’t like fire, but in death, I think it’s less icky than decomposition.

    I think cremation will continue to gain in popularity in this country. A lot of people seem to be “pre-selecting” it, where just a couple of generations ago it was unthinkable, as if you were disposing of a loved one’s body in a dumpster or something.

  12. Terri Says:

    Sakes! You made me think now, darn ya! I guess I want to be cremated but I don’t like the idea of being shoved in an oven. But yeah, like Chaos and Purple said, I won’t know about it anyway!

    Okay, you said in my comments that YOU don’t like housework? I remember reading a recent entry of yours and felt like I was such a slacker! I think I had you in the back of my mind during my unusual surge of deep cleaning yesterday. You are a true domestic goddess, with your sewing and fabulous cooking! I can knit a scarf because there’s no pattern for me to figure out. Forget knitting a sweater. I can cross stitch the heck out of a pillow case though. 🙂

  13. whatdayisit Says:

    Your blog was obviously thought-provoking. We want to be cremated. Husband wants his ashes spread in Utah and I wanted a flowering shrub or tree planted over mine. I think the embalming and such started a long time ago when disease was more possible. Now, just another cost to add to the funeral prices. I believe the soul leaves before the body died…I know my mother was gone even though she was still breathing..

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