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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Janie BS: A question about death (embalming) (5) RE: BS: A question about death (embalming) 29 Nov 16

My older sister, who died at age 42 from breast cancer, with 2 young children, fought the reality of her dying almost until her dying breath. She was adamant that she did not want cremated and also did not want buried below ground. That thought terrified her.

We followed her wishes. She was embalmed and later her body was interred in an above ground vault. Our extended family is emotionally close and geographically widely scattered and it took 3-4 days for all of them to get home. She was embalmed, there was a very well attended, open casket visitation 3 days after she died, and a standing room only funeral on day 4 at the church. It meant a lot to my parents, helped her kids accept she was dead, and also meant much to the over 350 people who attended the visitation and/or her funeral. In the meantime, there was no smell of rotting flesh.

My Dad donated his body to the human gift registry. His body was seriously embalmed to preserve it until medical students at WVU were finished with it several months later. His body was whisked from the house very soon after he died, never to be seen by family members again. Eventually what was left of his remains were cremated and reside, along with the ashes of many others, in a memorial vault on the campus of the medical school at WVU.

My own recommendation to my family is to have me cremated as the least expensive option then do what they want with the ashes. I also have made clear that if my son for any reason isn't comfortable with that, he should follow his own heart and needs that he believes, when the time comes, will help him to best come to terms with the reality of my death.

While I like the idea of either being buried quickly, unembalmed in a pine box somewhere that my body might fertilize the land, or of my ashes being added to a compost pile or spooned into the planting hole of plants that benefit from bone meal, I am much more concerned about what those left behind might prefer, since once I'm dead, I'm dead and not worried about it.

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