Thursday, March 13, 2008


The only reason that someone would be nervous about having their Remains Cremated would be that they are not quite sure that whoever created them still has the recipe. Which I think is weird, because whoever or whatever can organise sub atomic particles to hold the Universe together should be able to handle re-assembling a medium sized, bipedal, mammal.

Secondly, assuming that you believe that you are a spiritual being, once your container has outlived it's best before date you probably won't need a body (mechanism) that is dependent on oxygen where you're going.

Prehistoric people seem to have buried and cremated their dead but the advent of Civilization brought Religious Rituals to keep everyone in line and Cremation was the preferred method of recycling human remains until the Western World was overtaken by Christianity. It's certainly not new in the Orient but it is just starting to catch on here in the Occident.

Speaking of's a weird term because it automatically implies that something has left the body doesn't it? Come to think of it Cremation sounds like Creation although they are not mutually exclusive.

Have you ever noticed that the Funeral business, like any other, is rife with it's own terminology. Funeralese seems to be best spoken in hushed tones and nearly inaudible whispers. It's all part and parcel of our morbid fear and intolerance of Death. You don't want to wake the Dead so we still whisper at Funerals?

Let's face it Cremation was straightforward, fast, and people figured out that it limited the spread of disease. Whether it was performed out of neccesity on a battlefield strewn with decaying corpses, or within a community being ravaged by pestilence, Cremation was the simplest and most efficient solution to dealing with a corpse.

Thanks to technological advances in dispositioning efficiency during the 1800's, Cremation finally began to recover from fifteen hundred years of being shunned in favour of Christian burial.

Apparently only 32% of 'dispositions' in the USA are Cremations and 56% in Canada , UK 75%, and 98% in Japan.

Notice any correlation between the availability of land and prevalence of cultural, religious indoctrination?

The number one reason for people choosing a Crematorial Service is cost. At $1,200 it's way cheaper than a traditional casket/burial at $6,000! You should be aware that there are extra fees involved for cremating 'customers' weighing over 300 pounds.

The next most important reason for choosing Cremation is Environmental (saves space) followed by a diminishing adherence to ancient taboos and traditions.

A few interesting bits I discovered;
-it is forbidden in orthodox Judaism & Islam

-the average cremated adult is reduced to 5 pounds of Ashes consisting of;
* PHOSPHATE 47.5%* CALCIUM 25.3%* SULFATE 11.00%* POTASSIUM 3.69%* SODIUM 1.12%* CHLORIDE 1.00%* SILICA 0.9%
* ALUMINUM OXIDE 0.72%* MAGNESIUM 0.418%* IRON OXIDE 0.118%* ZINC 0.0342%* TITANIUM Oxide 0.0260%
* BARIUM 0.0066%* ANTIMONY 0.0035%* CHROMIUM 0.0018%* COPPER 0.0017%* MANGANESE 0.0013%* LEAD 0.0008%
* TIN 0.0005%* VANADIUM 0.0002%* BERYLLIUM <0.0001%*>

You'd think that we were Robots ?!

-because of all the lead fillings that dentists were implanting in our mouths there is some concern regarding contamination during Cremation.

While most remains (39%) are kept in a keepsake urn at the home of a relative, others (22%) have their ashes scattered at a favorite location and an equal amount (22%) choose to be cremated and then buried?

Two per cent of Remains are never collected.

It is certainly easier to have your ashes scattered than to be buried at sea...

which requires a permit, you need to dispose of the body 3 miles from shore, and you must be certain that it is properly weighted and will sink to the bottom and remain there...but you can scatter ashes almost anywhere but you need permission on Private Property and National Parks.

I, or what remains of me, will be cremated. The thought of wasting $12,000 on an impregnable plutonium casket seems ludicrous when considering what the 20 pounds of bacteria that I have carried within my body are going to do to it anyway. As the Bowie song goes, Ashes to Ashes Funk to Funky.

Two things remain self evident; we HATE talking about Death and Captain Kirk was wrong. Space isn't the final frontier Death is and always will be the greatest mystery. Which is why so many of us spend our whole lives living according to notions that someone dreamed up thousands of years ago. Maybe we should start looking at Death for what it is..a natural part of the biosphere.

Where's the fun in that?


  1. I want my ashes scattered on the sofa.

    Burn baby burn, it's a disco inferno.

  2. Anonymous11:46 a.m.

    "Notice any correlation between the availability of land and prevalence of cultural, religious indoctrination?"

    I'm assuming you mean the US has the most land and is the most 'Christian', therefore buries the most, erm, remains. What is also interesting is that it works in the exact opposite way round: the reason the Japanese nearly always cremate is because of their religiosity - Shinto is a tradition that regards death as taboo, unclean, horrific, and so one can't have all these bodies lying around contaminating the land. Buddhism slotted neatly into the void to become the 'religion of death', and Buddhism cremates. Most Japanese are Buddhist, even if they don't consider themselves religious - its' just what you do when someone dies. In fact, at one point it was a legal requirement of all Japanese to affiliate themselves with a Buddhist Temple to ensure that the dead were dealt with in the appropriate manner and not left lying around in graves, of all things!

    Also, on the whole the Japanese cremate and then bury, placing the ashes in urns within their family tomb. I like that idea - all the pots snuggled up together.

    Or at least, that's what my Japanese Religions lecturer tells me.

    (See, I HAVE learned something this year! B-D )

    Dead interesting, eh? (HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!)

  3. want to know the dirty little secret of cremation?
    you don't go down into that good night alone.
    those scenes where the family watches the container slide slowly into a furnace from behind a window? that ain't costing them no measly 1900.00
    still, who really cares, right? YOU'RE DEAD. but the notion that the neat little box you receive from Clapsaddle&Sons funeral parlor ONLY contains uncle Ernie is an erroneous one.
    of course, uncle Ernie might be mingled up in there with some 19 year old stripper, happy as a clam; who knows?

  4. Hindus cremate their dead. After that either they scatter or immerse the ashes into a river, preferably in river Ganges--holy river for the Hindus. Many rituals are followed and only done by sons. If there is no son, some close male relative does it. Women can't do it.

    Hinduisn does not allow women to go to crematoriums.Although that is changing slowly. When my dad was cremated, my brothers too did not allow me to go. God knows, I wanted to. But our mom was in a state of shock and someone had to stay there with her. His ashes were immersed in river Ganges in Haridwar on the fourth day and still I could not go. We had some kind of ritual after one year and only then I could go to Haridwar. It was more symbolic than anything else.

    Your post somehow released all those memories, which I suppose I had forgotten and had not shared with anyone.

    After the soul is gone, nothing remains. Still I wanted to have a last glimpse of my dad. Pain? Yes, I still feel it.

  5. My favourite ongoing analysis of death rituals was the brilliant series Six Feet Under. But since we're on the topic of the religious aspects, check out the following:

  6. I heard from somewhere that Buddhists believe that the soul can't be released unless the body is cremated after death. Is this true?

    After I'm dead, they can throw my body to the sharks in the bay for all I care. Whatever is cheapest...

  7. Anonymous1:17 p.m.

    What's a Grecian urn? About 4 drachma a day.

  8. mj,
    Your link left my chad dangling?

    Just opt for spontaneous human combustion and you can kill two birds with one stone!

    I am truly humbled. A+

    I know that you have spoken of your Father with great affection and that he left far too did mine and they were both cremated.

    What a shame that there is so much prejudice regarding females..we still have such a l-o-n-g way to go.
    XX OO

    I am familiar with Mr Brigstone's rant and I wish that they played that every morning instead of the National Anthem. I just told someone else that he encapsulated exactly what I have been pussyfooting around trying to spit out for the last two years.

    If I had made that vlog I would have never had to post again...hmm.

    Me too. As you know I am a bona fide shark-nut. I would have made a great Ichthyologist except for the fact that I hate being Cold & Wet.

    Hopefully there will still be some Sharks left when I die...the Oriental Fushing fleets are killing about 50 million a year.

    good one buddy.

    Ba Da Boom!
    ((*cymbal crash))
    Thank You Ladies and Germs I'm here all week.

  9. hhmmm... robots eh? we do seem to have a lot of metal leftover don't we!
    i too want to be cremated- but i don't want to be scattered or kept- and if for some insane reason someone does want to keep me it better be in a dragon shaped metallic rainbow or paisley patterned urn- strategically placed with a spotlight and a glitterball!

  10. Well first, yet another interesting blog by the master.
    Second, I have always thought of cremation as being unsacred. Maybe that is the little Catholic boy coming out in me, but I believe it to be saved for loved family pets and Jedi's.
    No matter how small the percentage is for unclaimed ashes, that is still sad to me. How can someone, even in death, be so disposable.
    Me, I want a rockin' funeral with all of my friends and family celebrating. I know a lot of people say that but I believe that is how it should be done. Celebrate a persons life and also celebrate the fact that the person has finally escaped this hell we call life.

  11. Anonymous6:18 p.m.

    No urn for me, just cremated and scattered somewhere in nature. "Remember that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return." My favorite ritual in my former church home.

  12. Anonymous6:22 p.m.

    It's also helpful to note that, in the current U.S. economic situation, that crematoriums are a good investment since urnings are up.

  13. Stace: Thank god I'm not religious. I'll be cremated too, it sounds like much more fun than being worm food. Although being a skeleton could be cool.

    Aidan: I am trying to get my remains to fossilise so future generations can stand in awe...

    Stace: or shock...

    Aidan: No i mean like when you see a cute puppy.... awwwwwwwwww!

    Stace: Cute. Pfft.

    Aidan: sorry we will have our discussion someplace else... back to Donn...

    Organ donation is a topic close to my heart (not to mention my liver and kidneys) if your not using them just before the big Don BBQ it might be good to let some one else run a few pints through.

  14. What great information you have compiled. What are you thoughts about a green burial? it would be simple shroud or casket made of natural material. It would be a lower cost than a the works.
    check out my blog about designing your own urn, go all the way!

  15. Death is a peanut butter and banana sandwiche. There, that's my profound utterance for the day. I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog, now in progress.

  16. Was talking about this with Mum recently -getting older-making a will-what you gonna do when you cark it etc. I want to be cremated -don't like the thought of hanging around in a box, rotting away. Mum and I worked out what we're going to say at Dad's funeral when the time comes.Actually my brother can do the honours and get up and talk about Dad.Wanna hear the eulogy? "(insert name here)was a man of few words and now that he's dead there'll be even less of them." That's it.

  17. As you know, my father died very recently. He was not cremated. None of my relatives were cremated. Furthermore, none of them were buried either. They are all in mausoleums. I don't know why this is, it just is.

    I may be wrong about this, but I think seeing them in the casket during the viewing helps with some closure - probably more than seeing a little box or vase filled with their ashes. I know that seeing them close his casket was incredibly difficult. Even thinking about it now is still incredibly difficult. However, although I had the option of walking away and not witnessing it, I somehow felt that it was something I should witness and should experience.

    I sound a little crazy, don't I?

  18. angel,
    I like the way you think..Go Big or Go Home!

    Good luck getting rid of all that guilt. I am all for having a big party to clelebrate the GOOD things about a person's life. Funerals are going to be performed differently because the 90 million North American Boomers who are going to be dropping like flies for the next 2o years are going to want to go out in style.

    citizen of the world,
    I hear a Carry On My Wayword Son/ Dust In The Wind medley coming on.
    There will be peace when you are done.

    You are incorrigible! HA! You are right on the money because now the Boomers are going to be exiting en masse for decades..urnings will be WAY up!

    aidan & stace,
    You're right a public service announcement reminding people to fill in their donor cards would have been a good idea...D'OH!

    welcome undertaker,
    I hope that 'green' thingamabob isn't a Soylent Green or tossed in a Bog type affair. I had better come and see what you're talking about.

    THE michael,
    According to 10cc Death is a cold Lasagna suspended in deep freeze...
    but Life is a Minestrone served up with Parmesan Cheese.

    Brevity is the spice of life. I am thinking of having Short N Sweet on mine.
    Actually I want to be able to say Oscar Wilde's dying words..
    "Either this Wallpaper goes or I do!"

    Sorry this may be a little too soon for you. My Aunt always took photos of the deceased in the open casket ceremony to send back to all the relatives in Europe. I always thought that was bizarre but apparently they all wanted one.

  19. When my dad died of cancer, we had the usual funeral but with closed casket as he looked like a skeleton before he died, and there was no way the morticians could make that any better. Then he was cremated and his ashes buried.

    Now when my mum passed away, she was cremated right away and we had a big wake at a local hall. She was in attendance in her lovely brass urn, sitting on a table with all kinds of photos and memoribilia. Lots of people came and talked and laughed and sang songs (she had been a music teacher) and cried and shared memories. It was very intense emotionally but what a great way to see her off on whatever journey she now enjoys.

    We then scattered her ashes in the creek behind the home on Lake Winnipeg that she shared with my stepdad before he passed away. He was scattered there too, so they are together even now.

    I am all for cremation. And for a celebration of the person's life, not some dreary, tear-filled, somber funeral where organs blare and hymns are sung. We need to share and laugh and cry and remember the person at their best... which is the kind of memories they would want us to hold dear after they are gone.

  20. You can do a full body donation for free. That's for me, chop, chop!

    Hello to Undertaker! You also showed up on my blog when I recently posted about cremation, offering to help 'personalize' the accidentally left a commercial link behind so I deleted your comment. I feel just awful about that.

  21. cestFin3:50 p.m.

    I'm all for being stripped for parts, then torched, when I go: who
    knows, some kid out there might need a pair of size 15 feet, or whatnot... Next stop? Haul my ashes down to the hall, where they
    can preside over others, also getting torched before their ashes
    get hauled. Circle of life... can
    ya diggit?


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