My question today relates to our bodies. I don't think anyone still believes that once we die we need our earthly body any more. Some like to be buried and some choose cremation. But now the Church of England is studying another idea. That of 'terramation' where the body is put into a capsule which is reusable and then surrounded with all kinds of suitable material - woodchips, sawdust, straw and alfalfa to speed up decomposition. And amazingly this speeds up the whole process so that in around 60 days microbes have reduced the body into enought 'soil' to fill two wheelbarrows. Then it can be returned to the family who can spread it on their garden as compost - because the temperatures reached in the process have been high enough to kill all pathogens.
The C of E are also considering resomation. Here the body is put into a biodegradable coffin which is then put i nto a water cremator. Hot water and alkali are added to reduce the corpse and the whole process after four hours leaves just ash and water. The ash can then be given to the family and the fluid drained away.
The remains of Archbishop Desmond Tutu chose resomation for the disposal of his body. They were laid to rest in Capetown.
We have to accept that ground for us all is running out. So a couple of interesting alternatives look likely to be introduced.
There is something very reassuring about burial isn't there? I suppose it is the idea of being able to visit. My parents and my sister and her husband, along with three of their babies who died shortly after birth (they were what used to be called 'blue babies' I believe - before the discovery of a way of dealing with it.) They are all buried in the family plot and have graves and have stones. But none of us live anywhere near now and it is all so long ago.
My first husband died over thirty years ago but I have remarried since then so I no longer wish to be buried with him although there is a plot purchased for the purpose. And my farmer's ashes were scattered by the side of the beck in his favourite pasture on the farm near to the marsh marigolds he so loved.
There is something quite comforting about gravestones isn't there? When my son lived in London many years ago he took me to Highgate Cemetery to see the grave of Karl Marx. Such an impressive tombstone. And, of course, when I visited Beijing I walked past the preserved 'remains' of Chairman MaoTsetung. Very impressive (especially for someone who had never seen him 'in the flesh'.)
And I remember vividly visiting the family plot in Old Bennington, Vermont where one of my favourite poets - Robert Frost - is buried along with generations of his family. I can still remember Old Bennington as a beautiful, peaceful 'village' with many trees and lots of green spaces. And the very large cemetery with so many tombstones. The farmer and I separated and searched different areas because we knew his resting place would be hard to find, The farmer found it - a large plot - and he called me over. I stood there and remembered my favourite poem 'The Road not taken'. It was a moment I have never forgotten.
So there we have it. It looks as though we have more choices coming up. Does it matter? It is only our body. We are no longer there. If you are a believer in the survival of our spirit then maybe it matters to you. To me (a Humanist) I just hope those dear to me remember me - that's all.
In a couple of generations everyone is forgotten anyway. What I believe in is private to me and not affected by thoughts or actions of others in disposal method engaged.
Blimey, the same news was in my Telegraph today. There will be a lot of old school, it must be a burial, types respond on here and I must admit that those two new ideas do seem repugnant. Don't see the need for messing about with bodies after someone dies, just cremate or bury, leave it at that.
Me I've dictated that I want a Direct Funeral - where the undertakers simply collect the body, have it cremated and that's it - no family gatherings or vicars etc. Round here anyway, the cemeteries are all full, no spare holes left.
Yup ... cremation for me, too!
Funerals are so ridiculous in cost anymore, you can't afford to die.
I have signed as an organ donor so maybe someone will be able to use any pieces of me that are still working. I've told my children that they can have me cremated and scatter my ashes wherever they want. I have always been frugal (cheap) and just don't want a lot of money wasted on a funeral...
I have always said I wish to be cremated, then my ashes scattered on one of the higher fells. It will be a way of getting my children out on one final walk with me.
OMG - all the options! I do not care. When I'm gone, whatever my relatives want to do is fine by me. I inherited family burial plots in Massachusetts and Maine. Some relatives wanted their ashes strewn in the Atlantic ocean in a favorite Blue Water location. Easy enough.
The ancient village church where many generations of my family are buried is on the point of closure now, and I'm a bit sad that I won't be buried with my parents. I hate the idea of cremation, so violent in the flames. Composting maybe, but then what do I want done with my remains? I certainly wouldn't want them spread over the veg garden in case future gardeners find out!
Once you die it's "where there's a will there's a relative" and that's about it.
Both my husband and i wish to be cremated and our ashes can be kept by the loved one left behind until that loved one is ready to part with them but there is the stipulation that we must eventually part with them and place the ashes in a meaningful spot. Your new information is interesting Pat.. Hugs!deb
I do like Rachel's outlook on it all.
I've never subscribed to having the so called ashes, I really can't be convinced that what people get back as ashes really are genuine ashes actually from a particular person's body.
My husband and I have been pretty set on cremation but we had my former husband's Uncle's ashes for ages. We all loved him dearly so everyone wanted to fulfill his wishes. The difficulty of getting 'Uncle William' to somewhere in Florence Italy became so difficult post/911 that I passed the ashes on to my son & dil. As for me I wanted to have my body go to a "bone farm" where a govt agency could observe the decay process for insights for forensic scientists. That too has become pricey in that the deceased must be delivered to the farm in 24 hrs and none are near me. At this point, I'll just stick to being an organ donor and let the med students have me.
I think it is up to the executors to determine the method of disposition of the body. Even if there is a Will expressing the wish to be buried, the executors can decide on cremation.
Not 100% certain but pretty sure this is the case.
What a thought provoking post and comments.
My husband Tom was cremated just this morning. We had a direct funeral that we had both agreed upon. This involves the body being collected from where ever and taken to the crematorium either early morning or late evening with no service of mourners. Tom was cremated between 8 and 9 o'clock this morning but only my daughter went to just sit in the chapel.
As for the ashes, I have no need for them but my daughter is having jewelry made from some of them, not to my liking but maybe comforting for her.
I believe that your spirit departs your body at death and what is left is just a shell that was used while on earth.
Cremation isn't environmentally friendly as it takes fuel to create the hot fire. I'm glad to hear about terranation and resomation as alternatives.
As a nurse, I've been with many people at the point of their deaths and have to say their bodies are clearly "empty" after their hearts stopped. It is remarkable.
What interesting topics you choose, Pat!
Graves and gravestones are not necessarily a good idea if it leads to arguments about who can go in where. I've asked that my ashes are tipped in a hole in my grandparents' plot. I feel that then at least I'll be with family back in the town where I grew up.
I wanted to be cremated. Until I visited England and wanted to go to my granny's grave. But there was no grave; she had been cremated and her ashes spread at "the crem". I felt such a sense of loss. My grandfather, her husband died in 1930 when my mother was 3. He is buried in tbe prettiest churchyard, with a heart-shaped gravestone. It meant so much to me to visit his grave, though I never knew him. Since that visit my cousin has shared a lot of information she dug up about him--his life, how he died, his funeral, etc. I feel like I know him now and visit his grave each time I get to England.
Then there were my 2 great uncles, killed in France in WWI. Two of my sisters and I went to France in 2019 to see their graves---thr first family to do so. I was so moved i had to fight back tears, as did my sisters.
All this to say, when I die, yes I will be buried. On my own land in a family plot, which is still allowed in West Virginia. No funeral, but yes a great party. That is how I want it to be.
I have no desire to be buried but terramation does sound interesting. Or cremation, not sure. I have talked at length to my husband about what I do and don't want should I get sick, no treatment, and what I want done with my body. My parents were both cremated and I took some of mum's ashes back to England and scattered them near Beckley, Rye, a place she loved. The rest of her ashes were mixes with dad's and they were scattered over Ladysmith Harbour in BC, where they lived after the war. Sometimes I wish I had a gravestone to visit but where would we have put it? And I doubt I would have visited it more than once or twice.
Funerals...the subject or sub plot of many a book and film.
My mother and father, when he was alive, became in their seventies, what the rest of the family referred to as 'funeral groupies', even attending funerals of people they hardly knew. There was always the commentaries afterwards to us about all aspects including the catering and the grieving.
When Mum's sister died, Mum said proudly after the funeral "I'M the family matriarch now", and my daughter laughed and said "This isn't about you Nan".
Horses for courses I guess, but the subject is wide and varied isn't it! - Pam.
Direct cremation for hubby and I. We have chosen locations where we would like our ashes scattered. Viv
Briony my dear I send you my love at a time when I know you needit. I have tried to get on to your blog comments but it won't allow me to leave you a message so this is just to say how very sorry I am.
Thank you everyone for your interesting comments.
Something we all should give some thought. My father died last year and I had to organise his funeral and such. I had no idea what he wanted as he had never said anything. I feel like I have let him down utterly.
Thankyou Weave for your kind words. We lived with his illness for 5 years but the end was not as we would have liked.
I have 3 brilliant children and a lovely Grandson who are looking after me.
I am also having problems commenting on some blogs, not sure what is going on there.
Love reading your posts and admire how you keep going through thick and thin.
Tom's comment just went into Spam in front of my eyes Weave. It was a very agreeable comment.
Love Bennington…love Frost…taught that poem over and over …my road not taken…my theme for me…
I don't want a funeral and do wish to be cremated. Scattering of ashes does appeal to me, but I have no idea as to where. I do really want a tombstone with my name and dates on it but am not sure as to where that might be. I just like the idea of something solid and enduring showing that I existed. As to where that tombstone might be located----- where I grew up and my parents and grandparents are buried or where my husband's family is buried and where I guess he would like to end up.
Both the options mentioned in the opening paragraph seem pretty ghoulish and I wonder whether those will go over with many folks. I wouldn't want to end up as compost, although, as a gardener, I consider it wonderful stuff.
I will be buried…soul will live forever…
Cemeteries are expensive to mantain. Once upon a time the population of the world was less mobile than it is today. Where people were born, raised, lived and died were often within walking distance. Communities took great pride in their burial grounds. Families maintained the graves sites and gravestones as a symbols of honor and duty. Today more than 50% of the population has chosen cremation. Ashes are often scattered in places with special meaning to the deceased at no cost. Cemetery owners have seen sales of plots and services go down drastically in recent decades. Often the cemeteries governance policies require fees be paid for the right to inter/scatter ashes on an exisiting burial plot the family has already paid for maybe a century earlier. I personally find it rather ridiculous to have to pay for a "proper air tight burial container", waterproof vault and the opening and closing of a grave to place ashes into. I recently attended a "visit" to a large family plot in a beautiful cemetery. It had everything on this plot including headstones, footstones, individual and for each family unit a memorial monuments, and a massive monument to the founders of the family. The son of the deceased carried a battery operated post hole digger and the daughter was carrying a box containing the ashes she had received by UPS from the crematory. The gathering stopped at a spot amongst the stones and went to work with the post hole digger. The guests in attendance sang a hymn and another read the 23rd Psalm. The plastic bag that contained the ashes of the mother were poured into the hole and covered with the freshly dug soil. Then the Our Father was recited by all. A portion of a letter the mother had written to the son was read and then all in attendance were thanked for coming. Everyone hurried to their cars and were gone. I learned a few days later that trustees of the cemetery were filing suit against the son for what he had done. They had also blocked the monument company from engraving the name of the deceased on the base of the main monument as all others buried on the plot had been. Nasty business. Awhile back I read an article about a cemetery going bankrupt and placing the entire acreage up for sale. The land was valuable and the cost of the removal of the bodies to a common grave elsewhere would just be a "nuisance" to the owners and to the creditors who wanted to be paid. As one commentor said in a few generations no one will remember you. It is a hard cold fact. Such dirty, greedy and dishonorable business selling up a cemetery. Then, if your lucky, they will only remember you when they do family research and notice the burials were removed. I will be cremated and as the last surviving member of a large prominent family I will have my ashes intered on my place on the plot. My partner, should he survive me has the right to be buried beside me, and his name engraved next to mine on the very last space on the bottom of the main monument. Thanks to an endowment from my great ancester the cemetery should have no financial woes and the plot in any danger of becoming a parking lot. I, too, am a Humanist (notice the capital H). That cemetery is a beautiful green space and sancutary for wildlife. When you die you are gone and it is ashes to ashes. Death is however big business and the business of "burying" the dead will go on. The granite bench placed near my plot by me I hope will be used by many walkers and joggers in the future to rest upon and take in the beauty of it all that is there because we were born and died (and paid a pretty penny for it!). My hope is that "affordable" low impact green burials will become the norm as this large aging population dies. My fear is that in the future cemeteries will be abandoned, vandalised and left in ruin. Oh well, whatever will be, will be. So sorry Pat for being wordy and using your blog as a soap box and going on and on. Pat, what a wonderful conversationalist you are! Your commentors are fantastic, too. Woody in Ohio
My parents chose cremation and ashes scattered at sea. I’ve chosen the same when the time comes. Some relatives of the burial/gravestone opinion didn’t like this even though there was the obligation of surviving relatives keeping lawn/plants by graves tidied up at least twice a year.
Dad’s ashes were scattered off a local ferry boat. He’d always loved the sea. The Captain stopped the ship, made an announcement and blew the horn. A beautiful certificate was given to me labeling latitude/longitude where I scattered the ashes. It was a sad but beautiful experience.
I have chosen to be cremated and my ashes to be scattered in a wood - I loved walking in woods when young. Others will have different views and ideas as to how their passing should be commemorated but a simple cremation will do very well for me.
Death of the body is such an interesting topic, isn’t it!
And yes, I have decided. Body can be treated with minimal fuss but my name will be added to the family cemetery in the parish of my roots (10 generations or so) although I’ve never lived there, I’m related to everyone buried there. I probably should have a rune stone telling of my travels and demise but that would probably be too much for some.
Pat, what have you chosen?
All my comments are going into spam right now. People must think I don't like them.
I want to be cremated, no funeral and my children can do what they wish with my ashes. My husband is being buried with his father in Iowa in the family plot.
Interesting post on disposing of our remains. If you look at other cultures you find many more ways the deceased remains are looked after. Now you mention room. Here in Western CAnada there's nothing but space and very few bodies. Yes , my favorite Frost poem is road not taken.
I'll be cremated and then buried in the family plot here. You can bury ashes above an older coffin burial.
Hello Weave..back in the 1950's I grew up on a farm in central Illinois. I used to pack a peanut butter sandwich and an apple and take off for the day to explore our large pastures. One day I came across 3 grave stones, almost fully covered with earth and grasses, but the names were still visible and the year I could barely read was 1904. They were in a pasture pretty close to our home so I thought they might be our relatives. When I asked Dad if he knew them, he had no idea who they might be...even my Grandpa didn't know. I still think of those graves and wonder if they are still visible..I rather doubt it since we sold the farm in the '60's...but now as I approach the time ahead for myself, I guess I like the idea of a gravestone to mark my existence. Maybe an alien will find it someday in the yr. 3000.
cremation for myself and husband. Ashes scattered where ever, no point in them being in a grave yard, as I don't honestly seeing anyone visiting them.
There is a lot to learn from old bones. Bank your DNA before you kick off into whatever dust you chose.
The thought of rotting away into compost to feed garden flowers sounds environmentally nice, but emotionally, I don't want my remains treated like garbage.
Well how do you approach the subject of ones own death. My leaflet for cremation is tucked by my will. Simple cremation and I want my ashes scattered back at the fields in the village. Paul in his most fanciful moment wanted a lotus seed planted over his ashes. Could not find it! But I chose a beautiful Japanese type coffin for his cremation, (a bit of a waste) and roses from the garden. His ashes are in the garden of the cottage, as also is Lucy my spaniel, and that gives me comfort.
Shall I tell you about burial in the ground. The gravedigger at Weston village near Bath, always used to chatter to me. And he told terrible tales of how the body transformed in the ground, quite put me off burial.
In the past I have proposed the idea of being buried in a biodegradable 'tube'. The tube would be buried vertically, and the hole dug with a simple wide auger mounted on the back of a tractor. Burials would take up far less space, and the cost would be minimal. A simple brass plaque would mark the spot. I've had no commercial interest in my idea.
My mum died 17 years ago and my dad 7 years now, so when their ashes were put into their plot i bought the space next to them. Best $350 Ive ever spent. I'll take my kitties ashes with me - my family!!
I can see relatives visiting the new graves of their loved ones from my kitchen window and wish Colin hadn't wanted a cremation - I did as he wished as it would have felt wrong not to but I would like a grave to visit and a stone for people to remember him for as long as the words remain.
If one is spiritual, it would seem to be that one would care even less about where your body goes, the spirit being independent of the body. I love the peacefulness of a cemetery. I like walking about the stones, reading, considering, tying together the story of families. Perversely, I have no desire to be buried in one. Tim's plan, I think, is to be buried with his family. I prefer to be cremated, my ashes dumped in a hole, with a lilac bush planted on top of them. I like the thought that every spring, people would walk past and savor that fragrance. The breeze will blow, and the branches will rustle, and that will be my whisper to a world gone on without me...'you're welcome...enjoy...'
Woody - interesting comment. I think most cemeterie here in the UK are attached to churhes (or maybe some owned by village communities - I am not sure. B ut we are a relatively small island and space is running out as our ageing population grows. Frankly I am not all that bothered what happens to me I think it is more for one's relatives that one tends to make arrangements.
Thanks everyone - another of those posts where it would be good to all get together in my sitting room with a drink and have a chat!
Another humanist here Pat.
Cremation for me - the family can do whatever's convenient for them.
I think a funeral is a chance for friends and relatives to get together over good food and plenty of drink, somewhere warm and comfortable. I won't be there to dictate proceedings.
My uncle had no funeral; didn't want a fuss but it just meant we didn't get that experience so unique to funerals; crying and maybe laughter with nearest and dearest.
What an interesting topic! In Florida you can have a green burial and that is what I have chosen. You can have a cotton shroud or a cardboard box and they bury you in the National Forest. Cremation is bad for the environment though my husband was cremated. Think this is a good plan and they can have a party to remember me. We did that for my father and it was wonderful.
Choosing cremation - no service, gathering or party please. Short Obit in the paper if it's still being published!
Would like ashes scattered into the ocean here on the North Carolina coast so the Gulf Stream takes them to the English Channel and "I" pass by my home on the Devon coast!
I would encourage anyone interested in learning more about human composting to check out Caitlin Doughty's YouTube channel Ask a Mortician. Several of her more recent videos deal with this very subject and it's not nearly as ghoulish as it sounds to most people! It's just starting to be legalized in a few states over here and she's a big advocate for it. After watching her explain the process, it sounds very appealing and I think lots of your commentators would agree if they learned more about it.
Anne - not often I meet another Humanist on Blogger.
I wanted to be buried with a head stone but I’ve changed my mind
What does it matter xx
Resomation seems responsible to me, depending on the alkali substance and its disposal
I would like a really old-fashioned funeral, complete with a priest, altat boys, a choir and maybe a brass band. One of my aunts lived next to a cemetery, and as a child, I liked watching and listening whenever tere as a funeral. But these timesare long gone.
Here it is not allowed to take the ashes home or scatter them anywhere, they have to be buried in a cemetery or other designated places like a forest or a meadow in a park. Space in the cemeteries is no problem as you buy a grave for 20 or 30 years only, and after that the family has to remove the headstone andn the plot could be used again. Actually, most cemeteries are too big because almost everybody is cremated nowadays.
Hilde in Germany
First time reading your blog. Woody of Ohio mentioned it to me. What wonderful memories you shared of your breakfasts as a child. This gives me a grand idea to do the same in my blog.
I will be back to catch up on your other postings.
Ron of "Retired in Delaware"
Post a Comment