On the way to Nevada, my mother and I had a rather morbid conversation concerning instructions for our bodies after the big car crash or the heart attack or the way I'm going, the liver failure, in the event that one of us goes first (and historically speaking, one of us probably will).
I have to admit that I brought this up. It’s something I think about a lot. This is because I desperately want to be cremated when I die. Every other option available makes me freak out and cringe and yes, I know I’ll be dead when these things happen to me, Smarty-Pants, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a right and wrong way to do this.
So I make it a habit to bring this up in polite conversation with the people in my life who will be deciding through Which Door I enter the afterlife—namely, my family. As in, “Grandpa! It’s so nice to see you! Happy birthday! I would like to be cremated when I die!”
Things like this really stick in your family’s memory. Granted, over time you might be invited to fewer functions, but that’s the price you pay for not having maggots eat your skin.
Oh, what’s that? You haven’t decided what you want done with your remains? Or maybe a loved one just died and you haven’t called the undertaker yet because no one’s sure what the old boy wanted and it’s been over a week and the color’s really gruesome and the children are getting sick from the smell of decay? Never mind, I’ve compiled a handy list to help you make your decision.
Things To Do With A Body When It Has Ceased Function
-Cremate it. As noted, this is the only way to go. Normally, having your flesh burned to this extent would hurt an awful lot. But the lovely part is that you are dead when you go into that big fire. Unless you’ve been working with Hermione on some really cool new spells and “certain people” have found out about it. In which case you are screwed because this must be a really, really painful way to die. But if you are dead, this is a great way to have your remains handled. It leaves only your “essence” around in the form of ashes, which your family can put on the mantle and use to pretend that their cherished child is still around in some form (not too many cherished children are deaf, mute, small enough fit in a bottle, and silver in hue, so this one requires some pretty committed self-delusion). Or they could scatter your ashes over a location that had meaning to you, like the tree house your Daddy built you or the local bar.
-Bury it. Here be nightmares. Burial, seriously? Do you not realize that the earth is a finite resource and that people have been around and dying for quite some time and there just isn’t tons of extra space for new people to be buried? Think about that for a second. Let’s forget about the fact that you are in a coffin and it’s really, really quiet and dark. Forget all those zombie and vampire and undead movies which seem to imply that people don’t do too well stuffed in a tiny box and shoved under the ground. Let’s not even consider the fact that you’re going to start rotting right away and you’re never going to stop, and there are all kinds of maggots and worms and horrible small creatures that will be more than happy to aid this process.
Forget all that (I find a heavy-duty tranquilizer helps). You’re going to be underground with legions of dead people. People didn’t always mark graves, you know. Way back when, they just kind of threw people into a haphazard hole and let nature do what it would. You’re more than likely to be buried right on top of someone (or many someones) that are none too pleased to have you, Mr. Modern with his coffin and his gravestone and his grieving family, infringing on their moribund territory. They are going to resent you. They are going to be pissed off. They are going to eventually open your coffin and help themselves to the Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card that you just had to be buried with instead of giving it to your son like a nice dead father.
-Weigh it down and throw it in the ocean. Um, sure, if you had more of a factor in the dude’s death than you’d be willing to admit to in a court of law. Because if that’s the case, you are in for some serious haunting/bad karma anyway. If not though? I’d stay well away from this one. Not only does it seriously suck for the drownee (it’s just one teensy, tiny step above burial), but what kind of service can you have here? Are you all going to be on a yacht as the body is thrown overboard? Will you put the grave marker on a buoy? Exactly. It’s disrespectful to be partying when a loved one is sinking into the calm, black waters. And don’t think they’re going to forget it either.
-Cut it up and hang the body parts from bridges as a warning to other wrongdoers. Come on. This is so 1305. I mean, yeah, of course it makes a bold statement, but it’s also really gross. Who’s going to pry the head off the spike in eleven months? You? I don’t think so.
-Stuff it. Why, so you can put it in your living room and talk to it and pretend the person in question didn’t really die? Yeah, that’s not sick at all.
-Eat it. Are you Aztec? Because I can appreciate taking your religion really, really seriously (I would too, if beating hearts of law-abiding citizens were required as a routine sacrifice and not some kind of penalty—what did this dude do to people he didn’t like?), but I cannot think of a single other legitimate reason to do this. Period. If you are the progeny of Jeffrey Dahmer, for example, that doesn’t excuse anything. Didn’t you see what happened to your daddy? NO EATING DEAD BODIES.
So in summary, we see that cremation is really the only way to go. As I’ve said for years. Family members reading this? I want to be cremated. You can consider this my final word on the subject, and once I am confident that you'll do it, I'll quit bringing it up all the time.