Giving back all that remains

A couple of life affirming actions constitute the difference between life and death.  One would be heartbeats and a pulse, the other would be breathing and the rise and fall of the chest.  So in short, without going into the science the difference between life and death is our next breath.

To draw breath is to accept a gift of the plants of the Earth; we in fact exchange air with all other living creatures.

In 4 Ways to Give Your Body Back to Nature After You Die (Yes! magazine, October 31, 2017), Jennifer Luxton talks about burial methods as a means of giving a purpose to our mortal remains.

“Whether it’s sudden or a long time coming … What happens next is largely driven by tradition, regulation, and a multimillion-dollar industry.”

In Australia more than half of us choose cremation while burial is becoming less popular.

“But what if you want your body to be useful still? Ideas emerging from an alternative community of mortuary and hospice professionals offer ways to give your body back to nature. As strange as some of these methods might seem now, they are at least getting us talking “outside the box” about death.”

  1. The Infinity burial shroud is a biodegradable suit woven with a mix of mycelia and other micro-organisms. Its best use is when placed in direct contact with the soil. Fungi help with decomposition and transfer nutrients back to the living earth.
  2. Mortality composting. “Soil scientists with the Urban Death Project in Western Washington are prototyping the “recomposition” process on human remains after successful trials with livestock remains. The eventual plan is to build a recomposition structure for use on a metropolitan scale. First, the body is placed inside a vertical chamber layered with wood chips, similar to the way compost piles use leaves as a carbon source.  Over several weeks, as the body is decomposed by bacteria, it shifts down the chamber. Other bodies are laid on top as part of a continual process. Eventually, all that’s left is a nutrient-rich humus ready to nourish new life.
  3. Reef balls. “If cremation is still the most cost-effective option, consider this alternative to an urn. Florida-based Eternal Reefs offers to add your ashes to a concrete structure designed to attract aquatic plants and animals when set out on the ocean floor. Eternal Reefs’ partner, the Reef Ball Foundation, sets out artificial reefs in areas of development to encourage estuary restoration and habitat recovery.”
  4. Conservation burial. “The simplest solution might be natural burial grounds, which let you go into the grave without a casket. Plots are marked by GPS tags rather than headstones.

Log onto the Yes! website to get the full story and see the illustrations:

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