Ashes, Mannequins, and Corpses: What Will Happen to You After Death?

The Federalist is a web magazine focused on culture, politics, and religion. I've written for them in the past about the funerals, marriage and divorce, as well as so-called "safe sex." Yesterday, they published an article I wrote about after-death care of the body. In particular, I address questions about cremation. Here is the introduction and a link that will send you to the full article. As if there’s not enough decisions to make in life, these days we’re even forced to make choices about what happens to us after we’re dead. If you’d like to go out with a bang, you can be cremated and have your ashes stuffed into fireworks so your family can ooh and aah as you’re blown into colorful smithereens in the night sky. Or your dressed and upright corpse, a stiff drink in hand, can be the life of the party as your friends gather round to drink and dance your demise away. Or, if you’re not really on the wild side, there’s always doctors and scientists eager for another cadaver. Hell, you might even go retro and be laid to rest in a coffin.

Alas, but even then, there are decisions to be made. You might opt for a funeral home with a drive-through window so the mourners—after they’ve grabbed a burger and fries down the street—can roll down their window, leave the A/C running, and take a quick gander at your remains as they dab their eyes with a McDonald’s napkin. Or if you make people actually get out of their cars and go into a church for a service, you need to decide if you want to have a Celebration of Life service or stick with the tried-and-true traditional funeral.

The long and short of this is that if you’re currently undecided as to what you’d like to happen to your corpse, know that every day your options expand. Death is not only a huge business; it’s also become quite the creative enterprise, full of entrepreneurs eager to Americanize death and cash in on your corp$e.

Before you make any decisions about your postmortem particulars, however, you might want to sit back and ponder bigger, more fundamental questions such as these: Should you even care what happens to your corpse? And, if so, why? So what if you’re cremated or left intact, celebrated or mourned, exploded in the heavens or buried under the earth? You’ll be dead, of course, so why should it matter what the living do with you?

Let me, first of all, tell you why I think it should matter to all of us. Secondly, let me spell out the practical implications that positive belief has for what we do with the body after death.

To read the full article, click here to go the Federalist website.