Tuesday, March 04, 2008

From Dust to Earth

Being sick will sometimes bring odd things to mind that maybe you hadn't given much consideration before. Even though I was far from dying, it occurred to me that should I die that no one really knew what my wishes were in terms of what to do with my body. I also realized I had no idea what Matt wanted me to do in the event that he dies first. When I was feeling better, I brought up this question to him.

The whole idea of a burial isn't terribly appealing. While I like the idea that there would be a place where people could come visit after I'm gone, I also am realistic and aware of how often my family doesn't visit the graves of our departed loved ones. I can't recall ever seeing the grave sites of my mom's side of the family. I know my grandparents already have a plot reserved. My parents, on the other hand, want to be cremated. In fact, my mom has said numerous times that she wants to be put in a confectioner sugar shaker, and sprinkled out wherever I go on trips after she's gone so she can continue to travel. I don't want to think of explaining that one to the TSA.

For myself? Well, I don't consider it too "green" to be embalmed, put in a casket, and then put into a vault where my body will slowly molder. The idea of cremation is kind of freaky and I can't help but think of that scene in Scrooged where Bill Murray is alive in the coffin as it's entering the fire chamber. But seeing as how I'll be dead, I don't think I'll care at that point. I figure cremation is a good solution to the "what to do with the body" question especially since I'm registered in our state's organ & tissue donor registry. If I remember right, I think I checked off to have them salvage anything that's usable from organs, bone, tendons, and skin. It's crazy what doctors can use now to help better someone else's life with donated parts.

Ultimately, I think it would be pretty cool to have my remains tossed off the Irondequoit Bay Pier into Lake Ontario. I like the idea of what's left of me possibly making its way out to the Atlantic Ocean and all around. There's a romance to it.

4 comments:

gasaholic said...

"I don't think I'll care at that point. I figure cremation is a good solution to the "what to do with the body" question especially since I'm registered in our state's organ & tissue donor registry. If I remember right, I think I checked off to have them salvage anything that's usable from organs, bone, tendons, and skin. It's crazy what doctors can use now to help better someone else's life with donated parts. "

As a liver transplant recipient of 10 years, I thank you for that. However, I must point out that even more important is to talk with your family, and let them know of your decision. (which I assume you already have done.) While donor cards are legal, binding documents, and the state registry is an excellent aid that helps families and medical professionals with information, the best solution is a direct, frank talk with one's family.

The numbers are stark - There are now 98,000 people waiting nationally for some type of solid organ transplant. (Lungs, heart, liver, kidneys, small bowel, and pancreas.) 18 people dies everyday waiting for their shot at transplant due to the shortage of donated organs. You should be proud of your decision to help reduce that number.

Julia said...

Thanks for your comment! I could be wrong, but I believe my parents and I signed up for the organ donor registry at the same time. This happened after close family friends lost their 15-year old son in a car accident and were still able to donate a lot of his body, even though some of the organs hadn't faired too well since Richie was in a coma before he died. His dad has since become one of the speakers in Rochester for Donate Life America to try to raise awareness about organ donation.

gasaholic said...

"His dad has since become one of the speakers in Rochester for Donate Life America to try to raise awareness about organ donation."

I may know him as I do a lot of speaking engagements for the organ procurement organization here in Rochester, as well as the eye and tissue bank.

princess slea said...

interesting post. i too have told everyone i know that i do NOT want to be buried and i most definitely do NOT want an open casket visitation. just lots of pictures of me with my friends and family having fun times. i came to the cremation decision when i was young and watched a movie where the indians burned the body to release the spirit into the air. the idea of that always stuck with me.

i have also told my family that they can donate any of my organs or parts for transplant but i really don't want my body used for doctors to practice on or to be sliced up and put in a museum.

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