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Column, Opinion

Let’s Talk About Death, Baby

When I die, I want to be simply wrapped up in a funerary shroud and put into a 4-foot deep hole. Do not embalm me, do not give me a coffin, treat me like what I am—a corpse. No longer living and bound only for decay. I died, I did not “pass on.” Like you will. You will die and be in some way disposed of.

 

Us in the Western world, at least the United States, have an odd relationship with death. The death industry is a 20 billion dollars a year company and they sell the “respectability” and “modesty” of your loved ones, right?

 

If all you need is to be brought through mourning and dispose of the body of your loved one, then why does it cost $5,000 if not $10,000 to do so?

 

I don’t say that everyone should just be put into the ground (a completely safe process by the way and is legally practiced in this country). People choose what happens to their own body or those of their loved ones. Cremation is a new majority at being 51.6% of funeral proceedings. We have turned to cremation, it’s cleaner, easier, and cost-effective. In fact, you can pay and file a cremation online!

 

“The fact that death is sheltered and not included in our daily life, we have a displacement with the natural process [of life and death]. Not only are the practices harmful to the earth, but also our psyche. It makes grieving harder,” Samantha Moore, senior at LHS, mourns, cracking a rueful smile as she spoke, “it’s honestly…whack.”

 

The harm done is in reference to embalming. We bury roughly about 5.3 million of gallons within bodies in the US alone. The chemical formaldehyde is the main component. It is pumped into the body after their blood is drained as well as bodily fluids. It’s a carcinogen and does not entirely end decomposition. And as the body decays, the embalming fluid can get into the ground, into ecosystems and even ground water.

 

And it is only necessary if the body is going to be not buried in the short-term. Like if you needed to transport the body long distances. Why does your grandmother, who died less than a week ago in a hospital, and will be buried in a plot a twenty-minute drive away, need to be chemically preserved?

 

We as a society don’t have to think about death much. The rate of survival after birth is high and the average lifespan is as well. Death can never touch you until you are an adult. Death should not be something we avoid, but rather embrace. Understand the finality of it and understand that your life may be sacred, but we are not above other beings. So that if it comes suddenly and violently somewhere in your life, it is not debilitating.

 

And that mourning can be done in your own choice. Death is not an emergency. You can spend time with your dead loved one. You can prepare the body by washing and dressing it if you want to. You can witness their cremation, even push the button if you so desire to, sending mom off into the inferno on your own accord.

 

You do not have to be okay with death, but simply know that the status quo is not the only way you can mourn and how you will go. Just learn to accept death and not allow yourself to be exploited.

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