Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
No one really wants to discuss death and dying, but sometimes it needs to be. The utterly disgraceful actions of a few at the Burr Oak cemetery in Illinois forced the subject. They also reinforced my opinion on cremation. I've never doubted my choice, but many, including some family members, don't agree with me. While I understand the need for closure, I'm grossed-out by the whole mortuary thing. Recent horror stories about negligence and mishandling of human remains by a Virginia embalmer chill my blood (no pun intended). Hospice services are helping to humanize the dying process. Nevertheless, once someone has died, the really macabre and over-the-top stuff begins. The pressure on families to spend thousands of dollars to honor their dead can be crushing, especially when they're in the throes of a loss. Simplicity is far more compassionate, not to mention less costly. [Besides, who wants to come back in their old body? I sure-as-hell don't!] Hundreds of thousands of acres are dedicated to the burials of dead humans. I think that is a huge waste. It also facilitates atrocities such as happened in Illinois and Virginia. Also, I don't believe that departed souls hang around cemeteries waiting for their loved ones to come visit them. I would much rather have a thing, like a favorite hat or chair to remind me of someone. So here's my take on the whole dying thing as it relates to me, personally: >harvest any usable organs and tissues; >cremate the rest and dump the ashes into a cardboard box; >throw the box and ashes into Lake Michigan; >come ashore and drink a few beers in my honor; >put a short obit in The Washington Post; >get on with life.