Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why can't we be buried anywhere we want to be buried?

Asked by Dutchess_III (44379points) November 20th, 2013

So, like, if I wanted to be buried in my beloved woods behind my house, why can’t I be? Why can’t they just dig a hole and put me in?

All kind of animals die in the woods. What’s so different about humans?

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27 Answers

Judi's avatar

industry lobbyists

syz's avatar

In many areas, you can (with proper permits)

Reasons not to plop a body down wherever: a common water table (toxins, heavy metals, embalming fluids), accidental exhumation, future development, proximity to other dwellings, gas/plumbing/electrical lines, future property owners.

KNOWITALL's avatar

In our area you can apply for special license to be buried on private land.

flip86's avatar

It has to do with contaminating water I think.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@flip86 dead animals are just as likely to “contaminate” the water.

@syz That makes sense. Wouldn’t want to be digging around, putting in water lines and stumble on a human body!

JLeslie's avatar

Because people are afraid of the dead.

flip86's avatar

@Dutchess_III Right, but human remains can be controlled. Animal remains cannot. Imagine if any moron with a shovel were allowed to bury their dead relatives. It wouldn’t be good for anyone.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

When animals die in the woods, carrion eaters arrive to consume the remains.

Human beings bury their dead, deep in the ground, so that scavengers won’t dig up the body, tear it apart, and eat the remains. A decaying corpse will contaminate groundwater. There are also concerns about future land development and exhumation.

But, it’s often possible to bury a loved one on private property. The laws vary among states and municipalities, and – unless an area’s already been designed as a family graveyard – the survivors need to obtain a permit.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

You could always have your ashes buried or spread in the woods.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s probably what I’ll do @Tropical_Willie.
Nothing wrong with animals eating your remains @SadieMartinPaul.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Tropical_Willie That’s exactly what most of us do here.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@Dutchess_III Eventually, carrion eaters do consume buried, human bodies – maggots, burying beetles, and decomposing bacteria. But, if you’re suggesting that we toss grandpa’s body into the woods and let nature take its course, I don’t think you’ll get many people to concur. I’d rather not encounter semi-eaten, semi-rotted human corpses when Sadie and I take a walk through a forest.

jca's avatar

I had heard once that it’s in case of an investigation where they turn up human remains, there has to be disparity (clarity?) between what belongs and what does not belong. In other words, your bones and DNA cannot mingle with the bones and DNA of murder victim.

deni's avatar

You can be, its just illegal. Who cares though. My favorite author and pretty much my hero, Ed Abbey, wanted to be buried in the middle of his beloved desert. He wrote instructions to friends saying to disregard all burial laws, and take him as quickly as possible, in a sleeping bag in the bed of a truck, out into the desert, bury him far away from anything, under a tree or a cactus and let his body nourish the plant and become one with the desert. I think it’s such a beautiful idea.

KaY_Jelly's avatar

^ I like that….Until the friends get pulled over halfway en-route to tree or cactus for suspicious type behavior and then only to find out that said friend is driving on a suspended license and so the cop tells said friends to walk home and pretty much takes the truck and the “sleeping bag” to the impound. And now it’s going to cost more than a burial plot which said friends are now going to have to find plus one casket. And probably a little explaining.

@Dutchess_III If you don’t want to be buried then why not be cremated and have your family dump the ashes in a special place that you like. I am being cremated and with a marble urn it cost me 1700$ and that is with the opening and closing of the grave. I have a plot already paid for with my husband, but I was that I don’t have to put my ashes in the plot if plans change, but they won’t, there is room for 3 my husband was buried my urn and one more urn, so technically it is 1 plot for 3 the crematorium is located right at the funeral home and cemetery is right there also so I think that is why I got savings, plus it’s a family plot.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am @KaY_Jelly. I just wondered why human decomposition is somehow worse than any other animal decomposing.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@Dutchess_III “I just wondered why human decomposition is somehow worse than any other animal decomposing.”

I think that all decomposing animals are disgusting, whether two-legged or four-legged. The revulsion is likely wired by evolution. Flesh begins to rot when bacteria and insect larvae take over. That might make a yummy meal for a scavenger, but it’s hazardous to humans. Our repulsion tells us to stay away and avoid any contact.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes, but decomposition doesn’t harm the earth.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III There are burial grounds where people are buried in cloth and left to decompose quickly. You also might know Jewish people are supposed to be buried in a pine box and not embalmed. The idea is the cycle of life and to go back to the earth to bring new life.

But, that isn’t really answering your question of why we can’t be buried on our own property.
You can sometimes, but you need to get approval. It would have to be land you own I think. Over at Graceland, Elvis and his close relatives are buried there. There are small graveyards all over Raleigh, NC when I lived there. I think some people fear disturbing the spirits and so allowing people to be buried anywhere can impact future land sales. Also, the state has an interest in why people died. So they are notified when someone dies, and then there is some control over the body being released, etc.

Having said all that, I think the cemetary business is a real racket. So much money for a little plot of land. I am sure the people in that business fight to keep laws in place for where people can and can’t be buried. It actually is illegal to sprinkle ashes, you are supposed to get approval for that or if you transport ashes on a plane for instances, but most people just do it and ignore any laws regarding that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah, I heard that even if you’re cremated you have to buy a casket. Is that true?

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t really know the laws, and I would guess they vary by state. Maybe crossing state lines requires approval? Maybe that is why someone told me you are supposed to get approvalmfor carrying ashes on a plane? I’m going by what I have been told and just guessing what sounds logical to me. I don’t have real knowledge of the specific laws. I guess since disposing of a body can be someone covering a crime the state likes to know where remains are? Again, I am sort of half guessing and half heard about different laws from other people.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@Dutchess_III “I heard that even if you’re cremated you have to buy a casket.”

If you’re having a wake with an open casket and viewing, you rent a casket from the funeral director. After your remains have been removed for cremation, the casket gets cleaned and prepared for the next customer. It’s all very cost-effective and avoids unnecessary waste.

JLeslie's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul I didn’t know that. Interesting. No one in my family has been cremated. My sister did have her cat cremated and has his ashes.

I am reminded now that my neighbor had his dad’s remains in a simple container. Nothing fancy. I was with him when he sprinkled them in a meaningul place that used to go to every year. I don’t know if he transfered them to that contained, because it would look less like remains? Not sure,

fluthernutter's avatar

After I miscarried, I buried the remains in our backyard. I couldn’t imagine having done anything different.

We didn’t ask.
It was a natural miscarriage at home. I was the only one that handled her remains. Embalming fluid or water contamination was not an issue.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That must have been heartbreaking @fluthernutter. :(

snowberry's avatar

I just gave this answer on another question, but it applies here too. The punch line is at the end of the song about 2:05. LOL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-QzLIjL1u4

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