Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Life After Death

A recent Slate article discusses the different ways of disposing of dead bodies and which may be the most ecologically sound. It turns out that being wrapped in cloth and interred in a shallow grave is the 'greenest' way to go.

I was glad to read that article, because it reminded me to write this post, which I had been meaning to get to for a while. We have recently been confronted with the idea of death and funerals and, although we are both young and reasonably healthy, it isn't a bad idea to keep an eye on the end of the road. Funeral services are a rather tragically overpriced service, although, to be fair, I have no idea what the costs on their end might be - I freely admit that my doubt is based on hearsay and general cynicism. Regardless, even though my wife and I have both explicitly decided that cremation is the way to go, I have begun to wonder if there may be a third option. Actually, there are many creative ways to go - spaceflight, jewelry, and even an artificial reef. All of these are intriguing alternatives to the standards, and they are all more conducive to a more joyous and celebratory funeral service. But I think I want to donate my body to medial science.

I have found a few places online that seem reputable enough - to tell the truth, I don't really care what happens to my remains when I am no longer a part of them, but I guess that these kinds of memorabilia are more for those still alive than for those who are dead. In a perfect situation, I would choose for my skeleton to be stripped of flesh, strung together with wire and hung in a classroom. That would be the coolest way to go. Not so that people could see me - obviously no name or distinguishing characteristics would be attached - but because skeletons are inherently creepy and funny. It just seems like the perfect way to go. But since I will not have the option to choose, and it is far more likely that my various organs will simply be used for medical training, I'm not going to worry about it. Most of the services offer free... everything. They pick up the body, do what they need to do and then provide the death certificate, ashes (upon request) and delivery for free or a nominal fee. It seems like the perfect option. My body will be useful one last time, the bereaved have less to worry about and the costly funeral is avoided.

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I wonder if anyone has any experience with any of these body donation services? Is there anything to look out for? Any shady services or scams to be wary of?

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