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Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween: What Are Your Plans for Your Dead Body?

English: Body Worlds anatomy exibition. Exibit...
 Body Worlds anatomy exhibition. Exhibition of corpses which have been through Plastination, by Professor Gunther von Hagens.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


          As I grow older my thoughts sometimes pass upon what's going to happen after I've died?   And before anyone gets any ideas, no I'm not planning on leaving anytime soon and I hope to be around for many more years to come.  It's just that as time passes we see people pass away from our lives.   Death is all around us--always has and always will be.  After all death is a natural part of life and it comes to us all.

         Today I'm asking you if you have a plan for when you die.  I'm not talking about wills, life insurance, or any of the arrangements we might make to take care of loved ones or to preserve our legacy. And I'm not referring to any spiritual or theological aspects regarding death.

         What do you want to happen to your body?

         Most people still probably consider the traditional graveyard burial route with a casket, one or more funeral home events, a procession to a cemetery with accompanying graveside service, and placement of the body in a grave with a headstone or grave marker.  This is one of  the most expensive routes to go.

         Lesser priced alternative methods of disposing of the earthly shell are cremation or burial at sea.   These typically cost less than the funeral with casket route, but they still come at a price.  Some more unorthodox choices might include donating one's body to a medical school, allowing the company that puts on the Body Worlds shows to take possession of your corpse, or offering up your body to decay for observational study purposes at a university "Body Farm".

          Death is going to come to us all eventually.  Most of us don't like to think about it much and many of us don't make the arrangements for disposing of our bodies.   Death is usually unpleasant for everyone concerned and leaving arrangements in the hands of those we have left behind might not be the best decision.

          My stepfather George made all of the arrangements for his burial a few years prior to his becoming sick and passing away.   There were few decisions to be made after he died and everything was paid for beforehand.  In fact he was so thorough in making all of the financial arrangements that my mother received a refund from the funeral home because George had paid extra money just in case it was needed.  I respected George tremendously for the way he handled everything concerning his departure from this Earth.

        What to do about my own death is something I seriously consider.   Oh, I still plan to live until I'm 156, but then again my expectations may be off a bit.   I don't want to burden those I leave behind, and I don't especially want to spend a bundle that I could use while I'm alive just to have some fancy arrangement that won't mean anything to me, you know, being dead and all.

        Halloween conjures thoughts of death among other things.  I'm just thinking and don't mean to put a damper on this festive day.  But it's probably something we should all think about before the time comes.

          Have you made plans for your own death arrangements?   Have you been faced with making plans for a loved one at the difficult time of their demise?   How would you prefer to deal with your corpse after you've died?

          Sorry for the morbidity, but it's Halloween.  This post is a big clue as to what song I'll be using in my Battle of the Bands match-up which will appear on Tossing It Out tomorrow Saturday November 1st.  It's a hit from the 70's that is directly related to the topic of today's post.    Can you guess the song?


         

27 comments:

  1. I think as we get older(and I'm older than you) we all have thoughts like yours. But honestly it is morbid, we are alive today lets make the most of each day. Sorry Lee, but I am trying to get over morbid thoughts and this has re-awakened such feelings.

    Happy Halloween.

    Yvonne

    Sorry can't guess the song.

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  2. Thought this was a very interesting post and something I think about occasionally, as well. More and more I lean towards avoiding the expense and stress of big celebrations, be it weddings or funerals, and spend the money and time on living a full life with the people you love while you can. The simpler, the better, in my book. There is a little country cemetery near where we live that my husband and I love to drive through in the fall because of the beauty of the changing leaves. I picture a simple graveside burial service there, or cremation and scattering of the ashes in a nearby favorite spot. I know it won't matter to me at that point, so I'd want to have whatever is easiest for those left behind to deal with things. I, too, admire your step-father for the way he handled his arrangements. Enjoyed visiting your blog again today and finding this post!

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  3. My family went to the Buffalo Museum to see those bodies, I didn't go! Too spooky, but I believe I missed out. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

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  4. BRAVO.
    Due to the iminence of death one should know how to die properly and accept the foreverness of this factor.
    I hope you can provide a link where one could request plastification and options included, I would specially prefer to avoid appearing in a museum handling a basketball, but I wouldn't mind if I'm BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A Ferrari, to accomplish a dream not yet fulfilled in life.

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  5. I think about this a lot, too, Lee, and I am leaning towards cremation. I have no idea what song it might be.

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  6. I posted this on my TV blog, which I think you follow, but I am not sure you watched this one. I could have saved it for my HERE'S TO YOU feature, but my brain is scrambling just to keep up. Maybe next time...

    Enjoy!

    http://tvjunctionfunction.blogspot.com/2014/10/sunshine-and-gunpowder.html

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  7. My wife and I still need to put a will together, so we haven't thought that far. Although we both want to be cremated. No need to take up space here.

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  8. I'll probably just be cremated or something. My mom allegedly has her affairs in order but she won't share them with me so I have no idea where anything is and it's a touchy subject b/c she thinks my husband is a gold digger and after her stuff.

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  9. Yvonne-- I usually try to avoid the thoughts, but I know I should probably be prepared just in case.

    Elaine-- I try to have a practical outlook about spending money. Funerals seems like an expenditure that isn't all that vital.

    Cat-- The exhibit was here in L.A. too, but I didn't go. I don't go many places around here.

    Carlos-- A link is embedded in the text of this piece--look for "Body World" and click on it and then look through the site for more info.

    Karen-- Cremation is one of the options I'm considering.

    Robin - Yes, I can see the connection to my post in the video you posted there.

    Alex -- Cemeteries can be kind of pretty, but I'd rather see land used in better ways.

    JoJo-- Some people have so much they try to hide that should be shared with family members. I've run into similar obstacles.

    Lee


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  10. I'm at that age where death is still a pretty scary idea and thinking about it freaks me out. Although, I'm not sure what I'd want done. Buried? What if I'm still alive?????? Cremated? What if I'm still alive???? Yeah, I know those are unlikely to happen, but my imagination goes overboard and I end up freaked out my actual death will be filled with horror and pain.

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  11. I want my body to be cremated and my ashes spread in the Virginia City, Nevada, cemetary.

    And I'm pretty sure the BOTB song you're going to use tomorrow includes the following lyrics:

    If you want my body
    and you think I'm sexy
    come on sugar let me know


    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  12. My husband and I both want to be cremated when the time comes. We don't give a lot of thought to it. I have a brother-in-law undertaker so we get discounts.

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  13. I can't stand the thought of my body rotting away in a grave, or possibly reanimating after my soul has departed. I want my body cremated, and my spirit to come back as a particle in the universe, perhaps to be a meteor in a comet, traveling through space.

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  14. Patricia -- Since death can happen at any time at any age then it's never too soon to give the who idea some thought.

    STMcC-- Not quite on the song guess--way off.

    Susan GK -- Discounts are good for the sake of the estate.

    Dolorah-- You have a different way of thinking on this topic. We will all be transformed in one way or another.

    Lee

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  15. Then it's...

    SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE,
    SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE,
    SHAKE YOUR BODY.


    ~ D-FensDogg

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  16. All I know is that I don't want to be buried.

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  17. I had to plan my mother's funeal and help with my mother-in-law's in the same year. Those were both difficult in their own way. Mom's wake was enormous: we held the funeral at our old church in Chicago, and the wake was handled by the old neighborhood undertaker. We had her family (she was the oldest of seven), everyone she worked with (she had been a Chicago Public schoolteacher for 37 years), and all the old neighbors, most of whom I hadn't seen in 30 years, plus members of my dad's family, people who worked with all of her siblings, all of her friends, a few nuns who had taught us... the wake started at 3, and the undertaker had to throw us out at 10, an hour after he closed. As one of my uncles said the next day, "Johnny, if the bar across the street (which was closed after a fire) had been open, the damn wake would still be going on!"

    My mother-in-law's wake and funeral, on the other hand, were tiny. She was the last one of her family (besides Mary, her only child) living, her late husband's family had one nephew who came in from Dallas the morning of the funeral, she had very little connection outside the neighborhood (a shame, because she had lived there her entire life and had been on the census rolls since 1920). Her funeral was three or four of the neighbors, Mary and I. Now, it's common for them to hold the wake and funeral in the church on the ame day for small groups like ours.

    Mary and I have both decided to be cremated, since it's possible that we'll be returned to Chicago, where we have cemetery plots (my mother-in-law bought them after my father-in-law died). We might find a columbarium here, though. Be kind of hard to sell the plots, since my MIL also had headstones installed...

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  18. I want my ashes scattered off of Steep Pier in Atlantic City by the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders.

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  19. STMcC--Nope. This post almost announces precisely the title of the song.

    Andrew -- Afraid you'll wake up in the grave? That would be scary.

    John -- Since funerals are really for the living I guess the nature of a farewell ceremony might depend on the number of friends and relatives expected.

    Larry -- You might get your ashes tossed off the pier but maybe not by the cheerleaders. Maybe some old retired former cheerleaders will oblige your wish. They might even be willing to throw you off the pier now while you're still alive.

    Lee


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  20. Ive suggested they dig a hole in the woods and toss me in. I'll be dead, why should I care? That body is just a shell, and unlike some faiths, I don't believe cremation destroys it's availability for glorification any more than decomp does.

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  21. Irene and I have signed for a program where with one phone call, the body is picked up, whisked away and given for research.No muss, no fuss, and no fee!

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  22. Having spent 6 years working part time in a funeral home, I got a discount so have arranged our cremations. However, we are donating our bodies to science if they want them (they don't always take them). I don't find death or talking about dying nearly as scary as most people do in North America. I am afraid people who talk about passing irritate me. I don't care what your beliefs are, people die.

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  23. CW-- We shall all be changed no matter what and God can put the pieces back together again if need be.

    Gregg-- That's more along the lines of what I've been thinking of. Now I've got to check into setting this up.

    Jo-- I use "passing" in my writing just for the sake of variation. I usually don't use it in speaking unless I'm trying to be particularly sensitive to somebody who gets upset about death.

    Lee

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  24. I applaud your direct questioning on such a delicate subject and yet one we all must face. I would ask my mom and she would him and haw and steer the question to life after death and all that jazz. I never found out what she really wants. Now she has dementia and, even though I can talk with her, it is not something one can bring up to someone in this condition. I know I will make sure all is paid for (hasn't happened yet), I have a will and made it known that cremation is the way. I would love my dust to be spread out in a beautiful forest preferably not in a marsh. I wouldn't mind a little plaque somewhere with my picture, name and dates and some silly quote I like just to say I have been here. There are people, like me, who like walking around graveyards and I love the ones with pictures and something extra.

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  25. After I'm gone, the only thing I really care about is my final resting place. If I have any visitors, I want them to come to a nice place that makes them feel good. That is why I've already arranged for and paid for a spot in the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery on Point Loma. You know where that is, right? The best view from any cemetery that I've ever seen...

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  26. sorry I'm getting to this only now Arlee but I'm glad I did! .. great post and a good reminder that death is part of life and each and everyone of us will shed our mortal coil. And sometimes death completely out of the blue. And I so wish we wouldn't use that word 'passing' ... death is the name of it. I have no thoughts of an afterlife - who knows. Also, we talk about celebrating the dead person's life at the funeral ... how about mourning it? Cremation and ashes tossed into the sea would be my choice - at the same place where both my parents' ashes were tossed and where I go when I'm infrequently down at the sea

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Lee