General Question

8lightminutesaway's avatar

What do you think of not being buried in a casket?

Asked by 8lightminutesaway (1413points) May 1st, 2008

I don’t want to be buried in a casket. Personally, I think its a huge waste of money, a perfectly good tree, and nutrients (me). We don’t need to be cutting down more trees and when I die I’d like to know that I’m going to decompose and rejoin the Earth and help some plant grow or something, not sit in a casket just chillin for eternity. Does this seem weird to people, am I the only one? How do I tell my parents this? Like seriously, put me a sack or something and lower me down…
Oh, I don’t really want to be cremated either. We don’t need to be burning more fuel just to get rid of me ;)

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29 Answers

MrKnowItAll's avatar

MrKnowItAll would like to know why the moderators are being so heavy handed?

peedub's avatar

If science can recycle me, great. If it’s legal to taxidermy a human, that’s what I want. Otherwise, do whatever. Caskets are neat in the ceremonial/traditional sense, but in my opinion, a waste.

simone54's avatar

I wanna be incinerated and I want my ashes to spread in woods where I grew up, The Mississippi River in New Orleans, the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and Pacific Ocean. I’ll pick my friends and family to do it. I want to see all that I all saw when I drove out here.

lifeflame's avatar

I heard that there are now coffins made from recycled paper
Maybe that is a viable compromise… something that looks vaguely like a casket but will be environmentally friendly..

Also @peedub.. I saw an exhibition once in Holland called Bodyworlds .. where they preserved human bodies with a technique called plastination. You could donate your body there if you wanted and be preserved… on exhibit.

peedub's avatar

Totally, I went a few days ago. It’s in LA right now. I would definitely do that. Did you see the ‘obese man?’ To me that was one of the strangest.

Oh, or the guy holding his own skin, the girl I went with was horrified.

lifeflame's avatar

I think the deformed fetuses were the ones that had the most impact on me…

delirium's avatar

“Well, I think the best position you could have as a dead person would be the skeleton in the anatomy lab. Skeletons are sort of aesthetically beautiful. They’re not icky and decomposing in any way and they don’t smell funny. People can look at you and think, “Wow, that’s really cool.” You’re still there and helping out in your dead way. I’d have to say that would be my number one pick.

Plastination is another one. There’s a lab at the University of Michigan where they plastinate organs—essentially creating a hard, preserved plastic version. It’s a liver but the moisture has been replaced with this polymer that’s catalyzed and then hardens. You can pick it up and it doesn’t smell and it never decomposes. You can do a brain. You can even do a whole body. I think that would be my second choice. I could be happy as a spleen on a shelf.

In order to become a research cadaver you have to have filled out something called a “Willed Body” form for a particular university. Oftentimes it’s somebody who had surgery at a medical school or medical center and it saved their life and they feel grateful and want to give back to the school. You fill out this form saying, “I hereby bequeath my body…” to [insert name] university to do whatever they want with, essentially. Then you end up at an anatomy lab or on a research project. Very often you are parceled up. Your head will go one place, your liver might go someplace else. Nothing is wasted. Everyone wants a piece of you when you’re a research cadaver.”

Personally, i’m looking forward to this cool new alternative that sweden has come up with:

“I think that what’s been going on in Sweden – a new method of organic composting of remains, which are then used to grow a memorial plant – could catch on here eventually. Out in California first, of course. The body is frozen and then broken down via ultrasound into small pieces, which are then freeze-dried and buried in a biodegradable box, to become compost. The Swedes are perhaps more practical than we are, and certainly more environmentally aware. They don’t like frou-frou funerals or embalming, and they object to cremation because of the mercury from dental fillings that gets into the atmosphere. And in polls, they seem to very much like the idea of one’s molecules being directly taken up into a plant. Sort of a literal reincarnation. The inventor of the process has already spoken to people in the U.S. who are interested in licensing the process. It’ll be a while though. The machinery is still being tested.”

If you find yourself particularly interested, 8minutesaway, you can check out the book that this is from. Stiff by Mary Roach.
Another one that will change your perceptions forever is The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford.

buster's avatar

how about a burial at sea? just dump you overboard

goldilocks's avatar

I don’t care either way cuz I’m sure I’ll have no say in it

gooch's avatar

Thats what I want too exactly I want to buried under an oak tree no headstone.

gailcalled's avatar

@eightlightetc:You sound very young to be making funeral plans,but if you have strong feelings, leave them written in a letter and signed by two witnesses. Tuck the letter away-type on the envelop: “To Be Opened Only on the Occasion of My Death.” And spell out your wishes. Just keep in mind that there are certain health laws to be followed…But, the Jewish way is to lay the body out in a linen shroud and place in a plain pine box and bury. All will return to the earth rather quickly.

Some Indians used to walk out on the ice floes when they felt their time had come; another custom was to lay the body in the tree as food for the birds and animals. Illegal here now, I am sure.

richmarshall's avatar

I think the whole casket thing is just to comfort your loved ones you left behind. I can just picture my funeral and them just tossing my body into a hole. Kinda funny to me, but I don’t think everybody would appreciate that.

xxporkxsodaxx's avatar

Well it sounds nice, but I would have to warn of graverobbers and people who really like bones of people. Being buried without a casket would just mean easy pickins, but on the brighter side, you would make the world a better place. As for not cutting down trees, they probably have already cut down the trees before your dead and not just for you so its not like YOUR cutting down a tree. Despite that though, very respective outlook

I tip my hat to you sir

scamp's avatar

My ex husband has donated his body to the University of Florida when he dies. They will use him for studies for a year, then cremate him and give his ashes to my daughter. I put instructions in my will for my daughter to do whatever she is comfortable with for me. I also signed papers to donate my body, but only if she feels comfortable doing so.

8lightminutesaway's avatar

@gailcalled.. I don’t think its early at all to be thinking about my funeral, anything can happen tomorrow. Part of livin everyday like its your last, and I find it strangely comforting to think about me growing into a tree. Thanks, I should write a letter though, good call.

@xxporksxsodaxx I didn’t think about graverobbers.. does that still happen these days? And about the trees.. if one less person buys a casket, maybe others don’t either, and then their demand goes down and they have to make less. I don’t know, I have a thing for trees. And thanks for kind words

@buster burial at see would be ok, I didn’t think of that. As long as they tie a sinker to me, lol. I don’t particularly want to get sucked into a boats propellers, lol.

@ delirium.. thanks, I will definitely check out those books. the composting thing sounds cool too.

@lifeflame, those caskets are a good alternative, thanks.

as far as donating my body for research, its certainly a noble thing to do, but I’d rather just naturally fall apart. Thanks everyone for the responses, I’ll be thinking a lot about this. Anyone know of any good locations to be buried? I’m thinkin maybe a mountain somewhere. Also, shipping a body out to space would be awesome, but thats not for me.

wildflower's avatar

Personally I completely agree with you. The casket is ceremonial – and an expensive one at that.
I guess it comes down to this being your last will and testament. Not anyone else’s. The most meaningful thing those around you can do when you pass away is honor your will. They don’t have to agree with it, just respect it.

After all, it’s your funeral (both so to speak and literally).

ckinyc's avatar

there are two more options (I saw on a TV program). One they mix your ashes (I think) with something and make you into a big sphere with holes. Then they lower you into the ocean with a floater as marking. So when your love ones diving down to visit you in the future. You will be giving lives (covered with) all sorts of marine liveforms. The second option is they make you into a diamond so you wife and wear you as a ring!

ckinyc's avatar

oh! Does anyone remember how Nate (in Six Feet Under) buried his wife… That was really hard to watch!!!

wildflower's avatar

I’m quite partial to the idea of being buried in a boat – assuming I had one.

peedub's avatar

@wild- that’s because you’re a viking. I envy your peoples’ funerals and hats.

wildflower's avatar

That is true….I am quite fond of my ancestors’ ways. I don’t go pillaging much though. Although next time I do, I’ll grab you a couple of horns for your fedora….

delirium's avatar

@gail: the eaten by animals scenario is actually quite feasable. If a person donates their corpse to a place called the body farm you get to decompose naturally. The farm studies human decomposition. It’s a very cool place and their reaserch has helped the forensic anthropology community in endless ways.

DS's avatar

I agree with you such a waste of material for the dead. My dad was buried in Algeria and other they covered his body with a white “linceul” and buried it as such now after few years there’s flowers growing up in that specific place.
My mum wanted to be buried this way in France but it’s totally forbidden.

syz's avatar

If you want to investigate the various traditional and non-traditional things that happen to dead bodies, I highly recommend “Stiff”, by Mary Roach. It is actually one of my favorite books (although I haven’t enjoyed her followup books, “Spook” and “Bonk” nearly as much). In spite of the topic, it’s funny, well researched and an enjoyable read (but not insensitive or disrespectful).

delirium's avatar

syz… **points up to the last paragraph of my first post**

;) Its nice to find another mary roach fan.

sugamama4040's avatar


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