Halloween is a fun day for children to dress up and get holiday candies. Yet it is also a day when death comes to mind. A little morbid but like all seniors who have reached the autumn of their lives, I think of death. I also want to decide how I want to be buried. Will I opt for cremation? Do I want to be buried under or on top of the ground?
My husband Hansford and I were watching TV a few months back, when Celine Dion, with tears in her eyes, said her husband had passed away. She said all she had to do was attend his funeral service. Her husband took care of all the arrangements beforehand. She said she felt so loved. That’s a thought, I told my husband. We want to save our loved ones from having to plan when it is time for grieving.
Because we had a persistent caller on the phone from the Neptune Society, who somehow knew seniors live at this address with this phone number, we decided to see an agent. Claudia, the agent, said everyone’s going to die and the Neptune Society will make all the arrangements. Since my husband served in the Navy, he can have a military service and I can be buried in the same military cemetery. She said a new wing has recently been built to accommodate more military families in the Los Angeles Military Cemetery.
“If you are on a cruise or vacationing somewhere, we will fly you back, no huge helicopter bills. Whenever and wherever you die, we will get you with no extra expense. You will be cremated and we will give the urn with ashes of your loved ones. The price will be $2,500. By next month, prices will rise.” Somehow we felt she capitalized on fear.
“I want to donate my body to science,” my husband said.
I said, “I learned from our bridge player friend that when her mother donated her body to science, they took the organs they wanted and mailed the unused remains back to the family.”
“No way,” said Hansford.
“Exactly,” I said. “Just when your loved ones are trying to get over their grief, you receive body parts and still have to do funeral services and burial of the remains anyway”.
I decided to do some research.
I learned that an American death with conventional burial has the body drained of blood and injected with formaldehyde, methanol and other solvents to slow the decomposition process. The body is then placed in a casket made of wood or metal, and lowered into a plastic-lined, concrete vault designed to prevent the soil around the casket from sinking.
Cremation, on the other hand, uses filters or scrubbers to reduce pollutants. However, the end result is soot, carbon monoxide and trace metals like mercury released into the air. The process uses 28 gallons of fuel and releases 540 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
In California, one has to be embalmed for health reasons, then buried in a coffin. However, there is an eco-friendly, natural green burial, where the body is simply buried under the soil and thus nurtures the earth. Only a simple shroud and a hole in the ground is needed. One website says there are natural cemeteries located in Washington State. A lady named Lucinda Herring provides green burial and at-home vigils. The only problem lies in keeping the body deep in dry ice until papers are taken care of and transport takes place.
Yikes, too much work for me. Too much information than I want to know. We will just have to deal with things as they happen.
But, after all that research, I therefore decided not to die, not yet, anyhow.