Sunday, October 17, 2010

death- don't read if this makes you uncomfortable

so I was at a family function today and the topic got around to death, or more accurately, what kind of services one will plan; the ole traditional casket-in-a-cemetary, cremation or the newest trend out there.  No one liked the new trend in burial that I mentioned and no one liked the idea of my after-death plan, which is just tentative at the moment.

my thoughts on the casket. I don't get it.  they place you in a comfortable looking container, firstly to show you off in that gorgeous interior- and then seal you up to keep those hungry worms at bay.  These containers are expensive as hell because these things are like works of art. oh you thought that dresser you bought at ethan allen was the epitome of fine craftmanship- no comparison, and I wouldn't be surprised if these things could come with built in tv's and dvr's which the survivors can  remotely access and play all their favorite movie or tv shows.  "my deceased husband joe loved watching the cubbies and we still watch the games together". now you can get these coffins in wood or the more expensive metal which is more durable and will take longer to decompose than wood. you can also get them hermetically sealed for ultimate protection but of course you have to pay more money which the funeral home will have no qualms guilting you into acquience. so get this, apparently loved ones, or dead-to-be will pay a lot more money to preserve them/themselves as long as possible.  why?? you are dead and you aint coming back, so physical appearance should not be a concern.  if one is hermetically sealed in metal the anerobic bacteria that thrives in air-tight places get to work breaking you down to a putrified state and now your funky fluids can't drain out and you of course just ruined the nice plush interior.

"When a corpse enters this liquifaction stage, the organs within the thorax, abdomen and skull will turn into viscous, foul- smelling liquid "goo". The water locked in muscle and fat tissue will also be released. Any embalming fluid in the body's veins and arteries will also leak out. When this happens, these liquids will be released into the casket, due to the decomposition of the epidermis (skin), which normally keeps the body's liquids within the body during life. If one were to disinter a casket from a grave or mausoleum several months after burial or emtombment, it is possible that perhaps 10 to 25 gallons, or more, of liquids could be sloshing about in the casket."

Ugh! gross. Do you want to lay in a liquid skin-meat soup? I don't.  That is why I would prefer cremation over this wet mess.

then someone mentioned a mausoleum.  why? why do people want this? it sounds so creepy.

Ok let's get to the new trend and that is 'green burial' - an environmentally friendly approach. no chemicals, no concrete vaults and no metal containers.  it's all natural.  you can use a pine box or be placed in shrouds and you can be buried in only 3 feet to hasten the decomposition process. you quickly return to nature as we are all made of the components of nature. your atoms can became part of a tree.  now doesn't that sound awesome!

Now i will mention my plan and that would be to donate it to forensic science. i saw this cool show on PBS and what they do with cadavers.  They just throw you in a field or forest- above ground or a shallow grave.  You will then be videotaped to document the various animals that come to feast on your remains. birds like to go for the eyes.  scientist learn a lot and use this information to solve murder crimes.
As I said, no one liked this idea.

don't worry I'm not fixated on death or anything.  I just think it's interesting that so many fear death or what will happen after death.

I'll never forget my older neighbor in rogers park who lived in my building and had such a nonchalant attitude about it all. she was on an oxygen machine and in increasingly poor health. she called me daily to check her O2machine or just to visit her/or do some errands. It was a rough period to watch someone go through this. when there was a period where I hadn't seen her in a few days she sent me an email that was something to the effect, 'please chris can you check on me every now and then for I worry that I may pass and I don't want to stink up the building'
What she wrote was much better, for she was a professional writer with a great sense of humor.
When I saw her after the email she proceeded to give me the phone number of the people to come and take her dead body. She said this like it wasn't a big deal and we laughed about it and I was even going to do a video skit with her as the frail old woman and me as the uncaring neighbor. She was all for it and laughed hysterically at the lines I had written.  I'm trying to recall but all I remember and it goes something like this:

               "So chris if I die, can you call the number that is on fridge. the people will come and take away my body"

Me-       "oh wow that's weird, I hope you don't plan on dying anytime soon cause i'm pretty busy these days"

               "just a quick phone call is all"

Me-        "I got a couple weeks in june where things will slow down...will that work for you?"

                "chris I'd hate to burden your life like this-tell you what, you can take the food in the pantry
                 after you call"

Me-         "ok gonna stock up on snacks? you are kinda low on everything"

It went something like that and we both laughed at how absurd it all was. Unfortunately we never got to do the video.
I put it on the back burner and then it was too late.

RIP Marvyn Womack


  1. wow. this is great. not at all as gross as i thought it would be. i actually put off reading this until i was in the right mood. glad i did. i'm all for the green burial. i might also want to be buried in my favorite, most comfortable t-shirt. No thanks to a stuffy suit that doesn't reflect who I really am.

  2. all you need to do is select a location. ditto about the suit, who wants to wear a tie for all eternity? goes to show you that funerals are much less about the comfort of the dead one and more about impressing us with fashion.

    "doesn't tom look good in his gucci suit"

    "yeah, he looks real good martha, a little heavy on the make-up, but he looks good"

    "this is the first time in my life I've seen him without that dastardly mole on his nose.....strange, but I'm going to miss that mole" sniff sniff

    I wanted to talk about the commercialism of the whole funerel industry but it was getting long.

    the whole process of preparing the body for presentation by pumping it with toxic chemicals strikes me as very odd.

    I certainly don't want that! i'd rather people throw me in a backyard fire pit and roast some marshmellows

  3. I'd much rather drag you around for as long as we can like Bernie

  4. well, child of hank, I don't mind if people use my body for amusement, but I sure hope as hell you aint into that necrophilia

  5. Cucumber anyone!?!?

  6. you gots a dirty mind hankie, a dirty mind indeed

  7. Really enjoyed your post, thank you for sharing. I found this from Lanza's article.

  8. I really enjoyed that article. The more we all talk about this human experience and make each other feel like we are together in death as we are in life, the better it is we can be and experience a togetherness. I have no idea what I just typed, but I think we should talk about this more.


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