Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Alternative Deathstyles

I know that everybody already has a pretty good idea of what they want done with the body that they live in once it stops living. I've gotten responses of all sorts telling me what is already planned in your heads for the time when your skulls are no longer filled with the energy that makes you walking, talking, thinking, feeling beings. That's great!

Today I was thinking about a question that was asked of me the other day and started coming up with so many answers, all real, that I thought it wise to put them all in writing. It was a simple question...I thought...I had answered it hundreds of times with almost a stock answer but in reality I never gave the whole picture. I was asked "Buried or cremated, what other decision is there?" Simple answer right? Buried is buried and cremated is cremated; the decision is what you prefer, it's a matter of choice. That wasn't the exact answer I gave but ultimately that's the gist of it. After the conversation ended and we parted I never gave it another thought until today; this is what I came up with.

Decisions, decisions...OK, you want to be buried, no problem, I can handle you want to be buried in a family cemetery, one that only has had other burials of your own family? Do you want to be buried in a public cemetery, one that has many other families buried beside you? How about a specific religion, do you want to be buried in a section of or a cemetery that only houses people of the same faith? How about buried at sea, today it's not as uncommon as you might think. OK, better yet, might you want to be entombed, you know, a mausoleum? Again, there are family mausoleums, above ground mausoleums, public mausoleums, mausoleums built underground, into the sides of hills, near lakes...All for the cost of a small home complete with a new car in the garage and some fine furnishings...NOW we're talking about buying property too! Yep. Then besides all of this you have music to select, flowers, pallbearers, clothing, caskets, vaults, stationary items, ministers, churches, locations, visitation times and the list seems endless! What ever happened to a plain casket, a ceremony and a place in the church cemetery?

Then we have cremation. Similar decisions have to be made when it comes to this type of final disposition. Do we want to have all of the aspects of a "normal" funeral with the only difference being that instead of going in the ground or in a wall we'll cremate? If you do, guess what? Many of the above decisions will still have to be decided upon. A memorial service? Same scenario with flowers, ministers, locations, music, now...movies, an urn. about a dove release or maybe balloons filled with wild flower seeds to be released? But we're still not done. What are your intentions for the cremated remains? They can always be kept in an urn on display in perhaps that favorite niche of yours off of the dining room; please stop. Or maybe the deceased wanted to be placed in a Columbarium, or scattered. Scattered? Well, you have the ocean, you have the mountains, you have the Mississippi River for all I know, just use your imagination and I'm sure you can come up with someplace special. We're not done yet though...How about being shot into space? How about being mixed with cement to form a "Reef Ball" and placed in the ocean? How about some jewelry? Would you like some jewels made from your loved one? I can get you a diamond if you'd like, maybe some nice earrings that have some of mom in one and some of dad in the other? Oh, the decision process is simple.

I can't finish this post without the mention of Body Donation, Cryogenics, Plastination, Mummification, Calcination and of course the ever eternal Time Capsule. My head is spinning. We, the funeral industry, along with every other entity that has tried to get on the band wagon have made it possible for dieing to be one of the most far out rituals this earth has ever seen. They claim that all of these things AND MORE help the bereaved get through the loss of a loved one and I'm sure for some it does. Maybe if they keep pounding the public over and over with all of this it may be perceived as a necessity some day. But definitely not in my lifetime; thankfully.

After all is said and done, I'm a funeral director and if you want any or ALL of this I can certainly help you...however...When the question is posed to me again about burial vs. cremation, after all of this has been thought out and written down...the answer is still going to be the same as it was before; burial is burial and cremation is cremation and the decisions you make will all be your choice. I will always do what you want but will I ever fully understand why you want it?......Nope.


LadyBanana said...

Oh dear, now that opens a lot more questions than we have answers!

It's not a thing I can bring myself to think about yet alone decide about.. yet...

deathsweep said...

Too many options if you ask me - it could be such a simple procedure but in todays world "options" are expected not out of the norm. Good to see you again - How are the muscles?


jOolian said...

DS, intriguing.... okay, this will be seen by some as wak'd, but around 12 yrs old, i designed my own Casket, on paper, sketched drafting style, with all materials: cheap 1" pine wood, every nail or screw type, and all specs.... my mom completely freeked, but i rather Njoy'd making my mom freek.
Basically, it's the same style as the old (The Outlaw Josey Wales) style & shape, specific cross cutout only ornament... but now, i'm interested in Plastination (only due to its name) HA.

deathsweep said...

Hi Joolian - I think making your own casket is great - This probably sounds wacked too but I mean it. I had a family once buy the least expensive wooden casket we had and come by before its use and paint it with rainbow colors, it had butterflies and flowers painted on it. They then applied photo's somehow and sealed the whole thing. It was a work of art. At that moment I thought what a wonderful idea that was - I have to try to find the pictures I took of it. By the way, Plastination is pretty cool! Thanks for stopping by.


paisley said...

i still say "to ye midden"... which when translated from the old scotch means ... "to the dust bin!!!!!"

there is a plaque nailed to my front door that says just that... but i think it is more in reference to my lack of house keeping the present time!!!!!

E-Babe said...

Wow - I just had this conversation with my friend Gina at lunch yesterday. She said, "I don't want to be buried or cremated. But what else is there?" I'm going to have to send her a link to this article. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I was curious how the prices for burial range from city to city. For example with how expensive I imagine real estate in NY is, does that carry over to cemetery plots?

As land continues to be inhibited, I wonder how much that will effect the funeral/mortuary profession.

I'd love your input :D

Agnes Mildew said...

What a fascinating piece. It's not something I often think about, to be honest, although I guess I should.

My parents both state they want the cheapest, simplest cremations. No messing about: 'Burn us and we're off'. I am of the same mind if I pause for thought.

It's a cheaper procedure in the UK and it also ensures that our little remaining free space is not being clogged up with skeletons.

I'd hate to think of my children spending a small fortune on seeing me off. What a waste of money.

I think the family who painted the coffin had the right idea. That's a celebration of life.

Anonymous said...

I'll email you 5 questions by Saturday!

deathsweep said...

Noelle, I think that there will always be some type of mortuary business however the business of the cemeterian is already waning. As people become more and more aware that there really is no need to bury as has been traditionally done in the past many cemeteries will in my opinion become memorials themselves although they will always be available. Look at Japan for instance, their cremation rate is in the extremely high 90 percentile. Burial is almost unheard of and this new wave is rapidly spreading around the globe. Too bad it took so long.


deathsweep said...

Noelle, P.S. - Cemetery property as it's called, varies in price from place to place. You only own the right for burial not the actual land - so, forget building that small house in the middle of the cemetery!!! Yuck! Anyway, like any real estate the catch phrase is Location, Location, Location. Sort of makes sense in an odd way when you compare it to real estate. Also - not only does the price of the "property" vary greatly but so does the price of digging the grave. I would imagine it's all somewhat relative to the local income though it doesn't always seem so.