A Sad Day, but It Has Me Thinking…

I won’t be here Thursday.  Husband and I have to go out of town to attend a funeral.  I wasn’t particularly close to the man who passed, and have a very matter of fact view of death, so no need for condolences; I know it sounds cold, but I don’t mean it to.  The thing is, human death is a very real thing, and though a part of nature, in many cultures, it has come to be against nature.

If you think about it, most people in America, and other countries bury their dead in boxes, pumped with fluids to keep them preserved.  The boxes themselves also do their part to preserve the body.  Most are steel, lined in plastic fabrics, and then sealed inside another steel vault.  (Just in case you were wondering, the steel vault is unnecessary now.  Its original purpose was to seal out rain water and critters, but modern day caskets do that on their own, so it’s simply an added expense.)  These boxes are then placed in either the ground, or a mausoleum, to rest for eternity.  With population where it is, eventually, we will run out of space to place our loved ones, but there are other options.

I used to work for an architectural firm that specialized in funeral homes, mausoleums and cemeteries.  We received various trade magazines, and some held very interesting ways to preserve, or not, the people whom have passed, here are a few.

You can convert your grandma into a real diamond; she always was a real gem.  Sorry, that was corny.  But it is true.  Humans are carbon based, and as such, you can become a diamond.  They cremate you first, and then hit you with tons of pressure, turning you into a beautiful yellow diamond; if you want to be a perfect, white diamond, then you have to pay more.

Another option is my personal favorite, and is the ultimate in green, but it’s only offered in Sweden at the moment.  What they do is dip you in liquid nitrogen to thoroughly freeze your body.  Then they pound you with sound waves to break you into thousands of pieces, run you through a dryer, and then pass a magnet over you to pull out any metals you may have in your body, such as fillings.  After you’ve been reduced to powder, they pour you into a box made of cornstarch – just like the disolvable packing peanuts – and lay you in a 12″ x 12″ x 12″ hole in the ground.  Then they plant a tree on top.  You will be completely reabsorbed into the Earth in six months!  I don’t know if its the complete reabsorbtion, or the process itself that has me so hooked.

Husband and I tease each other all the time about what we will do with each other after death.  I like to tell him that I will cremate him, and use his ashes to pave a race track; he’s really into cars.  I tell him that I want to be entombed in my favorite architectural masterpiece, whatever that will be, and that in preparation, I shall include a small, secret niche in every one of my buildings for such purpose.  I figure if Michelangelo and others can be buried in great architectural works, then so can I.

I know I’ve approached this a bit light heartedly, but just know there are indeed greener options for burial out there.  Let me know what you think.  If you could have anything, what would it be?  Would you have yourself blasted into outerspace, or perhaps a viking funeral is more your style, just promise me that I can shoot one of the flaming arrows at your pyre.

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2 Comments

Filed under Musings

2 responses to “A Sad Day, but It Has Me Thinking…

  1. donna

    I share your attitude towards death – reverent of its significance in culture and to people personally, but mostly matter-of-fact – and I’m fascinated by how bodies are dealt with after life. Cremation followed by a scattering to the wind – wherever – is my intent, and my husband knows it. In arch school I thought about designing a block in one of my buildings that could slide open, once, have my ashes inserted, then slide closed forever (I saw a brass box for ashes that did this – once it closed it was forever closed due to some cool mechanism inside).

  2. namhenderson

    Re: death I am definitely in same camp. Crew up in a family which followed Eastern philosophy so was raised to view death as temporary transition and hence have always been for less consumerist mortuary practices. Personally, i too wish for cremation..

    On the topic POV (a PBS show) had a great documentary awhile back which explores the growing home funeral movement by following several families in their most intimate moments as they reclaim the end of life, forgoing a typical mortuary funeral to care for their loved ones at home

    http://www.pbs.org/pov/afamilyundertaking/

    I think you can actually stream the video from their site now.

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