Monday’s on this blog are starting to become “What rabbit hole did I fall down on YouTube Last Week” articles. On that note, I recently discovered a YouTuber who happens to be a mortician. And talk about death. And what happens afterwards.
Boy, did it hook me.
First of all, the channel is called Ask A Mortician and I’ve so graciously given you all the link to check it out.
Second, there are a lot of benefits for this channel. It’s super interesting and covers a lot of historical topics and figures. If you’re anything like me, you could read and listen to history stuff all day long. But more than that, it talks about death.
Now, I’m an avid proponent of talking about death. Too many people are afraid to talk about it, personal or otherwise. Since I do write dark fiction, it’d be a little silly if I didn’t feel at least in the ballpark of comfortable talking about death. It’s a huge theme in practically everything I write not because I’m obsessed or terrified but because it’s so complex and individual. And inevitable.
It’s personalized. Unique. Plus there’s so much to talk about when talking about death. We get to think, use our minds, and really question just about anything we want to.
But I don’t really talk about how we decompose or that is, our method of post-death ritual.
That’s because up until about a month ago I knew of three versions of disposing of your body.
Burial. Cremation. And getting shot into the stars.
And that last one is only because I’m an avid Star Trek fan and knew that James Doohan aka Scotty had his ashes shot into space. How cool is that?
But, did you know there’s about as many ways to dispose of your body as there are ways to die? I didn’t.
I’m not going to go over all of these because there are so many and Caitlin Doughty (the mortician on ask a mortician) does such a great job but I want you all to know some options out there. But only briefly.
Here’s a little list:
- Water cremation/aquamation
- Tree planting burial (ashes on a seed and feed a tree)
- Become fertilizer (also possible with aquamation)
- Exposure (or get put out to be eaten by animals and nature)
- Become a diamond
- Become a coral reef
- Ashes on vinyl (a record)
- Eco-friendly burial (no embalming, no crazy casket…natural)
And about a billion more.
Does this tickle your fancy? I know that the whole “coral reef” thing is absolutely enticing to me. What a cool idea that you can help give back, nurture nature, and live on in a healthy way that isn’t next to a ton of other bodies that all (yes all) decompose. And no, that little seal isn’t important.
Do you know what is important? Talking to your family about what you want to happen to your body when you die. And yes, that means facing your own mortality.
How else are they going to know to respect your wishes when you’re gone?
We’re all going to die. Period, point, end of discussion. But don’t push the decisions of death off onto a loved one. That isn’t very fair. It shouldn’t be the job of a grieving loved one to have to figure out what to do. Maybe they don’t know you’re terrified of fire, or that you hate pollution and want a green burial. How would they know unless you’ve had that conversation?
Look at all those options too! That’s quite a lot to pick from. That’s overwhelming for people to decide , even more so when that person is grieving.
Here’s another thought. What if you haven’t thought about it so much that you also don’t have any funds set aside? What then? Well, your loved ones are going to foot a very expensive bill. Funerals cost thousands upon thousands of dollars.
All right, you get it. Your loved ones are going to be in enough pain from your death. What are you supposed to do about it now though?
One word: Plan.
Three words? Plan a lot.
We’ll start with the easy one. Plan financially. And don’t just start when you’re older. Start setting aside money for your ceremony of choice. Maybe do some research, see how much stuff costs, and figure a ballpark savings from there.
As dismal as it sounds and may feel, it’s such a great way to ensure grieving loved ones don’t have to suffer under the burden of financial costs due to a funeral or something of the sort. Start putting away your pennies to help out whoever will be in charge of your body when you’ve gone.
And plan for what kind of burial or alternative you’re into. You don’t have to make your mind up now, but having an idea of what you want is always a great thing.
But all that is pointless if you don’t talk to your family about it.
If you really want a water cremation but they don’t know that, you might end up being embalmed and in the ground.
So please, talk to your loved ones about what you want after you die. Normalize the conversation. Take it easy. You might have people who do not want to talk about it. There are ways around that, ways to ease the conflict that you might want to create because of a strong, “we aren’t talking about this”.
Remember, above all, it’s important that you clue in your loved ones about your wishes. They also play a part in your death. If you want to donate organs but they say no…it’s a no.
Take a breath. It’s fine. Learn to accept your mortality. And learn to talk about death, normalize the conversation and keep it light.