Tuesday, 24 March 2015

When you die options

I don't want to be buried in a coffin. What a waste of space and money! And while I'm all for cremation, it doesn't seem such a waste to set fire to a body that still has a biological (and ecological) contribution to make and to just scatter the ashes to the wind.

I read the book 'Sky Burial' a few months ago. It's a lovely story named after the Tibetan funeral practice "in which a human corpse is placed on a mountaintop to decompose while exposing to the elements or to be eaten by scavenging animals, especially birds of prey" (tnx to Wiki for the definition).

Although we have vulture conservation and feeding programmes here, they're not quite up with presenting human carcasses to the birds. Imagine! A stash of human skeletons on top of the Magaliesberg! My mom doesn't fancy this at all - she doesn't want to be rolled off the back of a bakkie* and left for the vultures to pick clean.

* The rolled off the bakkie part - stark naked - is more of a concern to her than being picked clean by vultures.

This News24 column by Andreas Spath presents a number of eco friendly options.

This column was written in light of the South African Eco Film Festival, which starts on Thursday with screenings in JHB, CT, Pretoria and E. Cape.

On Monday night I'm going to watch the movie "A Will for the Woods". The story includes a movement that uses burial to conserve and restore natural areas. In other words, bodies become tree food.

I F-ing Love Science posted this NatGeo video earlier this year on "What happens to our bodies when we die". Tree food makes sense to me.

With my love of forests, it is little wonder that the Italian project Capsula Mundi so appeals to me.
"It's the first Italian project created to promote the realization of green cemeteries in our country. Capsula Mundi is a container with an old perfect shape, just like an egg, made with modern material -starch plastic- in which the dead body is put in a fetal position. Capsula Mundi is planted like a seed in the soil, and a tree is planted on top of it. The tree is chosen when the person is alive, relatives and friends look after it when death occurs. A cemetery will no longer be full of tombstones and will become a sacred forest."

Unfortunately this project has not yet been realised due to legislative issues. (check them out on FB). Also here's a piece from 3 March 2015 on IFLS. Here's their 'What to do when you're dead" edition.

Something like 56-million people die around the World each year (South Africa has the highest mortality rate in the World but a quick search online only gives murder numbers and not overall death numbers).

That's a big forest.

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