A Slice of Life

101 Uses for a Dead ….

Suze and l were on one of our morning walks the other day and as we were preparing to cross Strand Street to visit the reserve, we were standing by St Mary’s church which is no longer an active church, but offers other activities such as craft and art fairs and meetings, weddings and concerts but on the odd occasion the odd few services as well.

It is an old church with quite a bit of ancient history and is currently a Grade 1 listed building and is the oldest in Sandwich. There are two other churches in the town – St Peter’s church another redundant church and St Clements which is still active. Of the three Clements and Mary’s both have churchyards, but l think it’s only St Clements which is still taking in the dead.

But Suze glanced over before we crossed the road and pondered upon what happens when we eventually run out of space in the cemetaries – where will the bodies go to?

This alone as a subject is one that causes quite a bit of controversy anyway in this country and l know a few years back that other countries raised interesting concerns about the same subject as well. The practice of reusing or if you wish, recycling the dead spaces is a strategy that is adopted by many. Principally this involves digging up the remains of the long dead and offering the vacant lot up to the newly dead complete with a bonny new headstone … mm, makes me think of one or two horrors from my younger years or was that ancient burial grounds that were built on? Either way, it is not ideal.

Death is a funny subject and l don’t mean ha ha ho ho and hee hee, l mean in so far as how people are not always willing to talk about it and yet, death is with us forever, BUT the space in which many are buried in … will not always be.

As l discussed a few months ago, l am having a green burial, it uses no chemicals and my body will decompose naturally and feed the soils and l quipped to Suzanne, that maybe what was needed was more effective uses for dead bodies which then made me think about the 101 Uses for a Dead Cat franchaise! But a green burial is way kinder to the environment, and l would become a tree, or a bag of compost or a foundation to someone’s new house or maybe even a pillar to a spanking new shopping mall! I could become useful even when dead! That fills me with a certain amount of fascination. Of course there was also that charming book entitled 101 Things To Do With A Dead Body

As we walked and talked in the reserve l couldn’t help but think on all the possibilities of being useful to the planet whilst dead. It made me think further and also environmentally about the damaging impact that cremation and traditional methods of body disposal create for the world. All these bodies filling up useful space – that seems wrong.

I know, l know there are those that can hit back at a, b and c, but the ethics of plopping people into the ground cannot be continually sustained especially as we are all trying to do more for the planet. Roughly 60 million people die every year and 80+ million are added and currently there are just under 8 billion people living on earth and l don’t know the actual statistics for those living beneath it, but l should imagine it’s a few more than a couple of dozen!

Strangely enough, when l got home after the walk l did some further study and found out that in reality, most churchyards don’t even bother to dig up old remains, they simply bury on top of existing remains! This practice is called the sustainable option!

Just seems to be a waste really … l would rather be useful in death than merely a clump of liquid mush after the first year until l start to become nothing. Becoming nothing can take anywhere between 10-15 years. Of course that is if you are buried …. but traditional burial does so much damage to the environment! Toxic chemicals seep into the grounds and we technically become a biohazard! Which seems wrong …

Creation whilst less damaging is still harmful to the air as it causes pollutions …..mm, l think l’ll stick to my natural burial. Think green, live green and be dug into the soil green well more of a decomposed brown with taints and tinges. Although, l wonder if maybe if l was frozen l could be used as a kind of sculpture for parties? Oooh l know!! I could become a bonsai plant for someone’s bedroom l have always had a hankering for miniature things!

A Slice of Life – Wednesday 10th November – E8

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26 thoughts on “A Slice of Life

    1. Hey Sadje – natural burials are eco friendly – woodland burials [placed directly into the growund so no coffin], cocoon burials [where you are placed into a biodegrable pod and buried]

      “A Natural Burial is an environmentally-friendly alternative to a traditional funeral.”

      Natural burial is the interment of the body of a dead person in the soil in a manner that does not inhibit decomposition but allows the body to be naturally recycled. It is an alternative to other contemporary Western burial methods and funerary customs.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_burial

        1. Yes l know 🙂 Muslim burials are very eco-friendly and a practice l think that should be adopted by more countries and especially westernised countries.

          Muslim burial is the same as green/natural burial 🙂

  1. I’ve always thought that cemeteries were a waste of space but on the other hand I rather like wandering through cemeteries, reading headstones, wondering about the people, enjoying the park-like grounds…I always said I wanted to be cremated and my ashes put in a lucite cube and kept on someone’s coffee table so I can stay ‘involved” and people would say “Oh, yes, that’s crazy Aunt Grace…” Miss Frankie is the only one of my cats whose ashes I have kept, she sits in the living room and I still hear her wandering around at night…

    1. Yes, like you Ashley, l am not bothered what happens to me when l am dead because erm.. well the obvious, l will be dead! unless of course l am NOT dead, then l might be a little disturbed, but not as much as the dirt l am trying to push back up off my body!!

  2. I saw a thing recently about a company in Washington State or maybe Oregon that offers composting as a death option. The family can keep the composted soil or donate it. They’re trying to legalize it here in California.

    Here’s a link to the YouTube video. This gal is a hoot too!
    https://youtu.be/_LJSEZ_pl3Y

  3. Out here – you buy a plot and it’s YOURS. Period – you buy that plot of land. You can have up to 3 family members in caskets ⚰️ if you wish or not… if is cremation you can have more family if you wish

    Is yours they don’t touch here

    For green burials – cremation – we can turn you into a Tree 🌲 any kinda tree you want

    Many of our cemeteries are incorporating living sections with these “tree people”

    Is brand new 🙌

    I be back ✌️

  4. As long as you had a business grade air cleaner and deodorizer available, having a dead body, which is in the process of decomposition, would be a really horrible thing, to see but worse to smell. (I don’t know that for a fact – the closest I’ve come to a decaying corpse was the cat that died under our rental house in the middle of summer when I was in my 20s. That smell is unforgettable, and I’m sure humans stink worse).

    The green idea is one that is being embraced by all sorts of people. The ‘coffin’ is a lot cheaper (I understand it’s made of biodegradable material that rots along with the body; one isn’t taking up precious space, and one is giving back to Mother Earth. All noble aspirations.

    As to the full cemeteries? They seem to be able to buy more land to expand the ones that are being used, but there is usually always someone ‘underneath’ the ‘new’ plots because records get lost, gravestones get destroyed or moved, and people might not know there was a burial ground in the spot ‘before.’ They’ve come across a lot of Native American burial (or ‘sacred’) places (some tribes wrap the dead in cloth and put them up high on a platform for the carrion birds to have, so it was ‘green’ before ‘green’ was a thing.

    The black folks weren’t given proper respect in certain areas of the USA and their graveyards were desecrated quite often. It’s an interesting topic certainly, and now that my cousin (who is of my generation) has died, well it’s on my mind as to my method of disposal. Theoretically I have a space.

    1. Hey Melanie, more and more people are very eager these days to adopt a more greener/natural burial now. There are many ‘cheaper/alternative’ variables available to the discerning buyer also 🙂

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