Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Green End

Posted by Kirk
I've given some thought to end of life decisions in my life and I have to say I'm not particularly fond of our cultures options for our bodies when we're gone.

Personally I have no use for my body and I hate to see it go to waste. I'm all for burial in theory but not when you are dressed up in your finest clothes, pumped full of chemicals, stuffed into an ornate box with a mattress, (seriously, a mattress? I'm dead, I can't get a sore back.) That is then lowered into the ground into a concrete bunker and then sealed up. Then, non-native grass seed is planted on top and polluting two-stroke lawn mower mows over me once a week. Ah yes, and because I'm not allowed to decompose and be productive, they come by twice a year and put on a petroleum based fertilizer to keep the non-native grass nice and green.

Yeah, no thanks.

Of course, the other option that seems to be out there is cremation. I'm not too keen on my big goodbye contributing to the consumption of fossil fuels and adding to global warming like that.

Every winter at the nature center we find dead deer on the side of the road and we carry them out to the prairie where we let crows, eagles, mice, opossums, raccoons and coyote do their natural work of taking care of the body. We do this for educational purposes. When kids come though we take them out to see animals, study tracks and learn about the cycle of life. It is very natural and I've often though it would be a pretty good way to go. I should point out though that the thought of me being picked apart by animals is not something my mother ever wants to picture. So, being a good son I should advise her, since I know she is one of my readers, to not watch the video slide show below.

These are photos of a Tibetan Sky Burial. Absolutely DO NOT watch this if you are the slightest big squeamish. In these photos a deceased person is cut up and offered to vultures. The body is first cut to help the birds gain access. Once they have picked the bones clean the people then smash up the bones, skull and brains and mix it with food to put out for the vultures to finish up. Some people will find this incredibly disturbing. I happen to find it fascinating and not disturbing at all. What could be more beautiful than going outside and thinking of your cherished loved one every time you see a majestic enormous bird fly by? I see this process a couple of times every year with the deer at work so I don't see a human as being any different. Many people would disagree.

(Note: The video has now been removed. I'm trying to find a replacement, bear with me. The original source photos are located here but be forewarned there are quite a few porn ads on that site so if you are more offended by naked bodies than dead people being eaten by birds then don't click the link.)

Now clearly this is not something they are going to allow in Minnesota any time soon. It makes the folks over at A Green Goodbye Blog seem like their goals are far less daunting. If you support a sensible burial option in Minnesota, or wherever you happen to live, hop on over to their blog and check it out. They basically want the right to open natural cemeteries where bodies can simply be placed in the ground and planted over with native prairie grass. It seems that radical idea is too much for some people too.