Thursday, March 5, 2009


See people, what you have done to me. There are no new posts to read this morning so what am I forced to think about?


Death and what will I do with myself when I die. I guess, really, what will my family do with me after I die.

I'm just not fond of burial. I don't want my body in some coffin somewhere decaying in an expensive box bought for the sole purpose of putting my lame dead body in. Worse yet, I have this completely irrational fear of being buried alive. I know, I know, it would never happen. But that one Stephen King movie, years ago, still has me sweating the inevitable.

Cremation maybe. I like the idea. Burn me baby, then scatter the ashes. Throw me on a ball field somewhere. If I haven't made it overseas in my lifetime, take me to Greece, Italy, Germany. Throw some ashes in Normandy and Iwo Jima so I can rest in peace with some true heroes of The Greatest Generation. That's what I'm talkin' about baby. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.

But then there's the eco-friendly part of me that was just informed that cremation leaves a large carbon footprint. Now what's a woman to do?!

Resomation. I first got the idea here in a Time article on really crazy eco-friendly things people/businesses are doing. (If you want to be completely grossed out and also amused, read all the pages of the article. Bra's with reusable chopstick holders to boost your bosom and at the same time the bounce can charge your phone?! Hah.)

(WARNING: all pregnant women and/or squeamish people read at your own risk now. Monique, I warned you last time, and you didn't listen!)

Anyway, with resomation I can have the best of both worlds, I think. But it's gross. I mean really disgusting. Like, I don't even what to think about it but that's OK because I won't have to... I'll be dead. My family will get some ashes because my little bones come through the process unaltered. In fact, they could have a bone-crushing party in my honor because they come out soft enough to crush with your hands. Hmm, fun. The thing is that there is this liquid. This gross, rest-of-your-body-that-wasn't-bone liquid. Eeew! I don't even want to think about what that looks like or smells like. But I guess it's good fertilizer so plant me a dedicatory garden and watch my flowers bloom! I'll be a beautiful sunflower, many colorful daisies, or a gorgeous rose bush.

Now doesn't that sound a lot better than a chemical-filled body buried in a box somewhere with a piece of concrete over it that says, "Here lies H, hopefully she wasn't alive when we put her in there."


Bridget said...

You are weird and a little disgusting I thought it wasn't kosher to destroy your body after death? That's just what I got from the LDS stuff people talk about. I could be wrong but anyway Resomation and cremation are disgusting to think about. Well death in general I guess but whatever.

P.S. I will have to start posting late night stuff for you to read...

Amanda said...

Your mind is a fascinating thing...

You know I like to play devil's advocate so here are some MORE things to think about concerning your death.

1. Burials don't have to be expensive. Costco sells caskets. You could get a pretty good deal. Or I'm sure you know a carpenter or jack of all trades who would be willing to make a pine box for you. I bet they could do it for under a couple hundred dollars. I mean, how much does this resomation cost? AND you don't HAVE to be embalmed. Choosing that route would mean a pretty quick funeral service (if you intend to have one) to get you in the ground faster.

2. Cremation... I don't know if you have spiritual beliefs that would discourage it. I don't think the church has an official policy on cremation, but if you study the pattern of death in the scriptures, the preferred practice of the Lord's people was to be buried. I'm sure this is symbolic of the process of death - burial - ressurection. Bodies are sacred and part of our soul and thus should be shown ultimate respect. How that respect is shown definitely varies by culture (aren't Buddists cremated? isn't is also common in Asian countries?). No matter how we leave these bodies, we have been promised that restoration of body and spirit will come to all (Alma 11:44). So perhaps you should take that final trip to Greece or wherever.

3. You eco-friendly nuts can get crazy sometimes. Death is quite a momentous event - screw the environmental impact. Be eco-crazy while you are alive for those 100 long years. You will have more impact that way.

4. One aspect of death is the family and loved ones you leave behind. I say no matter what you decide, leave them with an opportunity to have some token (a headstone, urn, whatever) that physically connects them to you until you meet again in the afterlife. It should make the grieving easier, right? That, along with a fat life insurance policy. I have an agent in the Phoenix area I can recommend.

proud parents said...

The church does have a position on cremation and burial, basically:
Cremation, bad.
Burial, good.
Nuts. I, like you, would HATE to be buried! I don't want squelchy maggots squirming around my eye sockets!
I want to be turned into a diamond! Did you know they do that? Basically, it's like cremation. They turn your body into ashes, and then compress those ashes until a diamond is formed (you are, after all, a carbon-based life-form).
So now there is this beautiful, glimmering remnant of me hanging from a grand-daughter's neck or embedded in an heirloom wedding band. Doesn't that sound absolutely romantic? And beautiful and not icky at all?

proud parents said...

They say that everybody's diamond comes out a different color, making us truly unique. Our physical composition might turn us into a hazy shade of blue, or hint of yellow--you never know!
Ah, to dream.
Also more about church policy: organ donation can be an iffy area. But basically the Brethren believe that it may be appropriate to have our organs harvested if it means the life of some other person would benefit.
I am an organ donor.

Sara said...

The status of my blog is in no way responsible for this crazy post, Helena. Find yourself something to do, my friend! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Since I can't be a diamond, and I don't want to be buried, I am resting all my hopes on living long enough to be "twinkled". I want to be one of the lucky ones at the end of the world who get to be changed in the twinkling of an eye. And I want to have a twinkling party.
I will have all my loved ones gathered around me, and there will be celestial choir music permeating the air. And I imagine it will be very much like the end of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast": I will sparkle, with light shooting rays out of every angle of my body. I will be lifted up like a feather off the ground and the music will swell and my body will be transfigured into a celestial being, full of glorious light and energy. And then I will alight softly back to the earth, glorified and smiling back at all my loved ones who are now cheering and applauding my transformation.

Rachel said...

I can't decide with you H. I know I'm up for cremation but I'll have to read more about this resomation thing. After breakfast, that is.

P.S. Was anonymous Jaylee?

P.P.S. If I had more time I'd spend it describing why a bargain burial is a nice idea but not possible, at least not to make it any way near as cheap as cremation. (plus it'd be hard to tell loved ones in mourning that they have to go out bargain hunting). Believe me, I've done research.

H said...

Yep people, I knew death would get you talkin'. Hooray! Maybe my next post will debate the spirtual ramifications of burial and cremation. I too thought the church was against it and thought Rachel might pipe in with her voice of reason.

Bridget, yes this is disgusting and my mind works in very odd ways.
Amanda, all good stuff that I have thought about. Loved the line, "screw the environmental impact". That was very ballsy.
Jennifer, LOVE the diamond idea, but not sure my glittering remains hanging on anyone's neck is romantic.
Sara, I AM doing something!
Rachel, I think we have a while to decide for sure. My back up plan is to get caught in a fire.

As for annoymous... NICE! Email me your identity please. My guess would be Jaylee as well, maybe Mo if she made it through the post. I know it wasn't April, all that princess talk and all. And Crystal doesn't like to think this much, although maybe this is something she's already decided on.

My final vote would be the twinkling... no environmental impact, no nasty mess, and some nice sparkles!

proud parents said...

Sorry, I was at work when I posted my last. I'm anonymous. Who knew, huh?

Sara said...

I would have guessed anonymous was Jaylee, as well. Very witty, Jennifer. H, you better investigate your crematorium's pretty well before your chance is over...I've heard some things about bad crematorium practices.

Anonymous said...

Me again. A final word:
You can also be buried "al fresco". There are services offered where you may be buried in a shallow grave (about 3-4 feet deep, instead of 6) in the woods or in such open space. No pine box necessary. Your body decomposes quite quickly and replenishes the earth. It's cheaper, eco-friendly, and you have options in what natural world setting you would like to lay in peace (not available in cemeteries).
No? How about encased in stone above ground aka Jewish-style? Mausoleum? Family crypt, anyone? Embalmed and mummified? Fish chum?

Oh, I also have a great gross-out story on burial gone bad!

Where do I get all this? Occupational hazard.

April said...

Twinkling is definitely not me. I'm sure I will burn with the sinners, or if people like Amanda 'screw the environmental impact,' I may just be living amongst the trash while slowly suffocating and dying from methane gas. But, hey, lots of people can be dead in pretty caskets that they can't possibly enjoy because they are DEAD!

Just throw me in compost and plant some pretty Gerber daisies above me. I'm good.

Rachel said...

I was avoiding commenting b/c I left a real long one and it got deleted before it showed up. I hate that.

But I did want to at least sum up my thoughts. The only thing the church officially says about cremation in the Church Hand book is that "Cremation is discouraged except in countries where it is required." And my first thought when my dad quoted me this several years ago when I decided (after a detailed tour of a mortuary and lengthy research) to be be cremated was that the church handbook sometimes contains things that are "culturally appropriate" instead of morally right or wrong. Which doesn't seem like a bad thing to me, but as the church grows more and more diverse my guess is that even that short line will be removed from the handbook and we'll be left with the principle which to me is "show respect and reverence for the dead body which helped us much during mortality" There are many different ways to do this and although in the US we have traditionally felt that burial is the most respectful, I propose that that is simply a cultural norm and therefore we as members have our freedom to choose other options in a righteous way.

I searched the conference talks also for anything that speaks about this topic and the most recent thing I could find was Elder Packer in the 80's saying something about how burial is important because it is symbolic of death and rebirth like baptism is. Which I don't disagree, that for many they would feel uncomfortable without this symbol of their cultural heritage. But I believe that others could choose cremation in a way where it is a symbol to them of a baptism of fire by the Holy Ghost. My point is that I believe the church is leaning farther and farther away from delineating a certain behavior for our bodies after death because it just isn't an ordinance and therefore there are different ways to honor our body after we leave it.

The right and wrong in this is decision is in our hearts. Do we burn our bodies as a way to "kick against the pricks", to kick against the majority in our culture who see burial as more reverent? Do we choose cremation as a way to say screw you to our bodies because we feel resentment for their inadequacies, or maybe just because it's the "cool" thing these days? Do we choose a traditional burial because we are afraid to offend? Do we choose burial because of a lingering fear of death and it's just easier to nourish that fear by thinking about being buried instead of burned? Or do we choose burial or cremation as an act of love both to our body and to the family and friends left behind? I believe this is all God cares about.