Friday, May 6, 2016


Cemeteries are a pet peeve of mine.   These massive plots of land in almost every city and town could be put to better use.

There are over seven billion people in the world today and that means that within the next fifty years those seven billion will have to buried somewhere.  By 2050 the population prediction will be over ten billion and still growing making human landfills a serious problem.

Catharine Arnold wrote the book London and its Dead.   People have been buried in the area of London since before the Roman invasion; you can hardly dig a cellar hole without finding human remains. 

I find the whole concept of burial macabre.   People are terrified of being placed in confined spaces – especially the idea of being buried alive.   Yet they place their deceased love ones in expensive coffins and bury them to putrefy and mummify beneath the ground so they can visit the spot and remember them as they were.  One hundred years from now no one will remember, no one will care; but the remains will still be there.

Eliot Patterson wrote a series of Tibetan mysteries.   In one of his books he described a burial practice still existing in some remote areas of Tibet.   There are small communities with generations of families that have earn their living by processing the dead.   Bodies are brought to these communities for religious disposal.  The body is eviscerated and then carried to one of many high mountain caves where it is deposited.  The high altitude and dry cold winds quickly mummify the body where it will remain.  

They also practice ‘sky burial’ where the body is butchered and then the body parts are transported to high peaks where they are left for carrion birds to recycle. 

In India bodies are often cremated by the Ganges river.  Families pay for wood for the cremation fire, and when the fire burns out the ashes and what remains are placed in the river.  Jeremy, on River Monsters on the Animal Planet network says that the catfish near these cremation sites grow to monstrous size from a constant supply of human body remains. 

My stepfather retired as a landscape architect with the Corps of Engineers.  In his later years he lived in Arlington, Virginia where he attended the Falls Episcopal Church in Fairfax, Va.   He designed a memorial wild flower garden behind the church and devised the lay out and policy for the internment of the cremation remains of church members and their families within the garden. 

A grid system is laid out for 847 lots each one-foot square at three separate depths.  The garden can house up to 2,541 cremation remains.  There are no markers but the names of the people interred there are placed on a bronze plaque in the church cloister.  

Myself, I would like to be dressed in a Superman outfit and thrown out of an airplane over New York City, or burned on a funeral pyre at a wild drunken debauchery biker rally, or cremated and have my ashes put in a douche bag and run through one more time – but my wife hasn’t agreed. 

the Ol’Buzzard


  1. If you think about it, crushed bone, blood and wood ashes make a wonderful balanced fertilizer. Having your core elements sucked up into the roots of a plant is more immortality than we deserve.just saying....

  2. I told David I want to be cremated and then thrown under my roses. Goddess knows the roses would love it.

  3. I like the idea of being cremated and then put in the pot and having a tree planted in it...

  4. A timely post, OB. I'm off to a funeral this morning. Embalmed, open casket, interment in the earth, the whole nine yards. Wouldn't be my choice -- cremation and scattering for me.

  5. I want my body to be donated to science then cremated. Maybe a cure for MS can be discovered by researching my brain! I don't have my family's approval just yet.

  6. I just want to be toasted and have my ashes spread wherever. Put my father's ashes in a fjord in northern Iceland. It was what he wanted. No need to take up valuable space.

  7. Toasted and scattered on a hillside here at the Retirement Bunker. I told the Younger Daughter to be sure to stand upwind of anyone else present when she dumps the container so I can be irritating as hell one last time.

    I once planned to donate my cadaver to a med school, but we're too far away from one now.

  8. I am new to you blog -- this was an interesting post :) I like the idea of the biodegradable urn that grows into a tree....

  9. My parents died 6 months apart. Mom was cremated. The funeral home asked if we wanted dad to be cremated also. My brother says, "You're damn right. Dad made mom do it so he has to also". The poor lady was struck dumb while the rest of us were killing ourselves laughing. I'm all for cremation but here in Ukraine, the Orthodox rule and it is a no no.


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