Happy Halloween, my creepy and ghoulish friends! This time of year I usually get the urge to focus on all things gruesome and ghastly, but since we’ve all been inundated with such the past few weeks, I thought I’d lighten things up by writing about something a little less dark and dismal. I figured I’d go with a festive and joyful topic like — oh, I don’t know — DEATH.
Let’s face it; we’re all going to die, and I suppose on the most basic level life is really just a slow and (hopefully!) long march toward the grave. Or at least things used to be that simple. These days, being buried in a hole is only one of many…um…fun choices available to the modern cadaver.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve really never spent much time thinking about what will become of my earthly remains, but I’ve at least gotten as far as acknowledging that I’m extremely uncomfortable with the idea of being placed in a box and buried underground. Shudders!
I suppose I suffer from taphophobia, commonly known as the fear of being buried alive and a favorite topic of writer Edgar Allen Poe. We’re a tragically misunderstood bunch, far more common in number than Tobias Fünke and his small band of “never-nudes,” and afflicted with a terror only slightly less useless and irrational.
I just worry about the possibility of being mistaken for dead when I’m merely in a mysterious deep coma. At some point I’d suddenly awaken after everyone thought I was a goner, only to find myself helplessly trapped inside a sealed casket. That, my friends, would SUCK, but such things have indeed occurred. I’m sure I read about it somewhere, or maybe it was just an old episode of “Days of Our Lives,” circa 1980s. Sure, it’s unlikely, but I’m just not willing to take that chance.
That is why I’ve instructed my nearest and dearest to bear me the final courtesy of having me cremated. Personally, I wouldn’t mind having my remains burned into total oblivion, and maybe then torched once more, just to be absolutely certain.
I’ve never really cared much what happens next, but that was before I learned about all the exciting new possibilities. The especially stylish corpse may wish to have their carbon molecules transformed into a lovely gemstone, which can be placed in a gold or platinum setting and worn by a devoted survivor. Hey, if vampires can sparkle after death, so can you!
I’ve always told my husband that if I die an untimely death, I’d want him to move on with his life and hopefully get remarried to someone awesome. After several decades of appropriate mourning, of course. In exchange for my selfless generosity, I suppose it wouldn’t kill him to wear my shiny remains around his neck every single day. Forever and ever. He can just think of it as me watching over him and making sure my replacement doesn’t try to get frisky.
For the especially adventurous corpse, the possibility now exists to have your ashes rocketed into space. For less than $2,000 you can contract to have your remains sent into orbit, where they will circle the Earth for several months before eventually burning up in a blaze of glory. That’s a heck of a lot cheaper than astronaut school and requires absolutely no mastery of math and science. It’s no secret how much I’d like to visit space, but I’ve always said I’d rather die than take calculus again. Well, here’s my big chance.
As far as fun alternatives to the grave, I’m actually pretty fond of that one. I’m also at least somewhat open to the idea of being chopped up and fed to people, but it just doesn’t quite hold the same appeal now that Charlton Heston is no longer with us.
Speaking of Charlton Heston, for a little over $1,000, a company called Holy Smoke will insert your ashes into bullets, which can actually be fired from a variety of different weapons. Perhaps if he had it to do all over again, his cold dead hands could actually BECOME an essential component to a firearm.
The eco-friendly corpse has plenty of options as well, including having their ashes cast into a mold and used to restore damaged portions of existing coral reefs, where they can actually become a habitat for colorful sea creatures. Nifty!
For those who wish to remain “intact,” another option is the increasingly popular “green” burial, in which the un-embalmed body is wrapped in a shroud or other biodegradable material and buried straight in the earth. “Six Feet Under” fans might remember this was the ultimate fate of Nate Fisher, as well as his wife Lisa, who he buried in the desert beneath a Joshua tree.
Taphophobia aside, I’ve always thought that sounded pretty cool, particularly given my longtime fascination with Joshua trees. However, my own fantasy usually involves star-gazing in the desert while lying beside a Joshua tree, rather than fertilizing it from beneath. But considering we’re all “made of stars” anyway, as Carl Sagan liked to say, perhaps in some ways it’s all the same in the end.
I suppose we won’t exactly be around to enjoy an awesome send-off anyway, so perhaps our thoughts would be better spent making the most of our living years. But still, I’d think better of pissing off your loved ones too terribly, especially given the recent trend in colorful obituaries going viral on the web.
Just a few weeks ago, the Reno Gazette-Journal published a scathing obituary written by the children of the recently departed woman they claimed abused them for years. The not-so-grief-stricken survivors celebrated her death and sent her off with warm wishes for an afterlife full of torment and misery. Act like a decent person, lest you suffer a similar final humiliation. Remember: the body may be temporary, but the Internet lasts forever.