This essay is about funerals and disposal of corpses.
I enjoy funerals. I get to see all kinds of people I have not seen in a long time. There are people of all ages to talk to. There is lots of food. The one thing I don’t like is when the person making the arrangements uses the occasion for an extended infomercial for his religion.
In one case by high Anglican Uncle Jack arranged a fire and brimstone funeral for my atheist Aunt Edith. I though that was in terrible taste. I could imagine Aunt Edith saying I don’t care. I did not have to go.
People are at their craziest and most superstitious at funerals. They proclaim their certainty the deceased is present.
People make maudlin speeches about how wonderful the deceased was. Too bad the deceased never got to hear such kind words.
People evaluate various corpse disposal techniques by imagining being subjected to the procedure while still alive. They don’t fully believe in death. Some religious people insist the body remain ritually intact so god will have no difficulty resurrecting it. Many people are now evaluating based on how little ecological damage it does, how expensive it is, and how much real estate it uses.
We humans make a huge fuss of corpse disposal. Basically the problem is how to get rid of 100 kg (220.46 lbs) of decaying ape meat. In some future not-so-sentimental society you might dispose of the corpse in a dumpster, or leave it on the curb to see if anyone else has a use for it, or use it for making dog food.
It is illegal to bury your wife under her favourite apple tree in the back yard. Why? Religious superstition has become law. We act as if the dead were not really dead and require even more ceremonial respect than when they were alive. Logically, the same simple regulations concerning the disposal of moose carcasses should apply to human corpses. The concern should be public health and odour control not in mollifying disembodied souls.
You are put in an oven and wafted with natural gas flames heating you to 1,093°C (2,000°F) until all that remain are your bones which are then crushed to little white pieces. Your loved ones can then spread your ashes over plants, parks, gardens, rivers, the ocean etc. without interference. Funeral homes charge much more.
You are wrapped in a sheet, and buried under a tree, without stone marker. After you rotted away, you fertilise the tree, and others can be buried in the same spot. You pay in advance by buying burial insurance.
Your body fluids are replaced with embalming fluid to slow your decay. You are put in an expensive box, and buried in a plot at a cemetery. There is usually a stone monument. You rent the spot in perpetuity which actually means about a century. You hire someone to weed and trim the grave. The disadvantages of this approach are:
In Tibet, bodies are laid out on a mountain top for vultures to eat.
Your body is immersed in liquid nitrogen. It freezes. It is then shattered. It is then freeze-dried. Bits of metals are removed magnetically. It can then be easily composted. The goo is buried and a tree planted on top. The goo becomes composting fertiliser for the tree. I don’t understand the advantage over burying an intact body. Invented in Sweden.
Aka biocremation, aquamation and resomation. Your body is immersed in an alkaline solution under heat and pressure for three hours. It dissolves. It is then filtered and flushed down the drain. The soft bones, that look like flour, are then scattered.
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