What happens when we die? I’m not talking about religion or metaphysics, but the nuts and bolts of funeral preparation. What is embalming? What is required for cremation? What are coffins made of, and why are they so expensive? And the big question: how does my death affect our planet? Decomposition is a gross and messy–but natural–aspect of life, to which anyone with a compost pile in their backyard can attest. So why are we obsessed with preserving our dead bodies? We embalm our dead, place them in steel-lined coffins and lower them into concrete-lined burial vaults. There they will stay; decaying slowly, despite the formaldehyde, but forever entombed in concrete and steel.
My question is… what’s the point? What’s the point of an expensive casket, a burial vault and allowing your body to be pumped full of carcinogenic chemicals? Many people have differing ideas about what happens to our consciousness when we die, but very few world-views speculate that we stay in our body. So what is stopping us, as a culture, from allowing our bodies to decay naturally and return to the earth? Is it fear? Fear of death, fear of change, fear of worms playing pinochle on your snout? (more…)