Sunday, September 23, 2012

What I Plan for My Remains

I've long thought about how I want to be buried and all that. When I was a kid, I wanted the most impenetrable coffin possible. Bugs crawling through my body was such a gross revolting idea after all. Of course, as I got older that really didn't bother me as much, though bugs were still equally gross. Oh, and I wanted to be in a cemetery with upright headstones because the flat ones are just lame.

By the time I was married I saw cremation as a somewhat appealing idea, except the whole scattering the ashes thing seemed silly to me. And it just seemed weird for someone to have the ashes sitting on a shelf somewhere. So I still would've opted for a nice wood coffin, something that would allow decomposition to happen fairly quickly as I now saw beauty in the idea of returning to the earth and continuing life through other organisms. Then at some point a friend mentioned going to a ceremony to bury a relative's ashes, something which I hadn't realized was an option. (Apparently there are all kinds of interesting things you can do with your ashes, from shooting them off in fireworks to making jewelry out of them to being made into a box of pencils.) At that point (probably two to three years ago), I became firmly decided on cremation for my remains and to have them buried in the ground somewhere. But in the last year I think I've sort of changed my mind again. After seeing pictures of several funerals, it all struck me as such a waste. Big, expensive coffin, space in the land (what happens when we run out of cemetery spaces? do we just get rid of the headstones for the now decomposed bodies and re-use the space?), all the ritual.

I get that it's all for the living and if that's what the relatives need for closure then that's cool. But it's not what I want for me. So I've decided to donate my body to science or a body farm type place. Someone may as well learn from it after all. Relatives don't need a grave site to visit to remember a loved one, just their own brain with it's memories. And if you donate it to science there's usually no cost involved as they cremate the remains when they're done with them and then return them to the family to do with as they wish. Beyond that, it'll be up to what Ryan or our kids feel they need to determine what, if any, gathering type things they hold. After all, I'm not going to be around to know or care, now am I? But if it were me, I'd probably keep it a small, intimate gathering at home, perhaps with friends sharing meaningful memories if they wish. There were some interesting ideas in this podcast that I listened to the other day, but especially loved that in Australia most people use a secular Funeral Celebrant to help them plan a ceremony celebrating and focused on their loved one, rather than a ritual focused on espousing a particular dogma. I also liked the idea that one couple had of having readings from their favorite authors/books.

Is it weird that I've thought about this so much already? At least when I die Ryan/our kids will definitely know what I wanted, right? And, just for fun, if you were going to be cremated, what would you have your family do with the ashes?


Alanna said...

You should read the book Stiff! The last chapter the author focuses on what she would like done with her remains, and finally comes to the conclusion that she doesn't particularly care, so whatever her husband wants done is fine with her. I sort of felt the same way. I'm fine with organs being donated to science (or even my whole body, really), but Craig was pretty uncomfortable with that, so I told him he was the one who had to live with the decision, so I didn't care.

It sort of IS an interesting thing to think about though, huh?

Amy Rose said...

My grandparents have a plot with a crypt? Is that the right word? Anyway, it has several... cabinets? Chambers? I don't know all the terms, but there is a spot for my dad's whole family, for their ashes. So It's like this huge structure, with a little compartment for everyone's ashes. I remember we had a memorial for my grandpa about a year after he died, because that was when everyone could get together, and it didn't matter how long we waited because the ashes weren't going anywhere. Also, he died of Alzheimer's, so he had kind of been gone for years already at that point.

Scotty said...

My grandma and grandpa want their ashes sent into deep space. There is a company in Houston that does it. Seems intriguing.