I have a conflict

Love Blooms in the Eternities
Love Blooms in the Eternities

I love spending time in graveyards. They are, for the most part, quiet, and a good place to hang out in bare feet, without too many people around. The lawns are well manicured. Birds make their homes in trees close by, squirrels and chipmunks can often be seen running around. Often there are lots of real flowers to admire. Some of the plastic flowers don’t look too bad either and add some colour.

Occasionally a human or two or a whole family arrive to spend time with their loved one. It gives me a good feeling when I see the care and love that is shared through these visits to the grave.

Being back home here in Nova Scotia, I have the opportunity to go visit my Mother, in the Valley. I feel grateful that she chose to be buried. Because of our estrangement a number of years ago, having a grave to visit has become very important to me. I understand the significance of burying our dead in a place that allows us to go visit, pay our respects, share our tears or to just go and have a talk.

I have a conflict.

Burial as a tradition to be observed in this day and age from an environmental perspective, I am not a fan of. I have written about my concerns in my blog post: The Impact of Cemeteries on the Environment. I was recently speaking with someone here in Nova Scotia that recounted a story about a funeral they had attended. The grave was so full of water that the casket could not be lowered during the graveside service.

My Mother died of Cancer. Treatment was unsuccessful in prolonging her life. What do we know about chemotherapy drugs when they enter the groundwater in a grave?

What about real estate? Is building cemeteries to bury over 7 billion (and growing) people who now inhabit the earth something we want to continue to do? Of course not all people choose burial. There are other methods to dispose of a body.

Direct Cremation is becoming the number one choice in North America, because it is the least expensive. People now expect more from funeral homes for the money being charged and tend to use less of the services that are being offered. For some, keeping the cremains of their loved one close by in a box or urn in a room in the house or special place, or to scatter here and there in favorite spaces is preferable to burial of the body of their loved one.

Whatever method we choose for when we drop our body, I think it is important for us to consider how we want others to find us, to visit and have a chat, or to help future relatives find links to their ancestors, as well as considering the Environment.

Last Modified on November 27, 2016
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7 thoughts on “I have a conflict

  1. Paula Stein

    I’ve chosen to donate my body to the UofA’s science program because I won’t be needing it. My relatives are all out east and there is not much money for funeral expenses. In spite of it being inconsistent with my family’s traditions, when the UofA is done, they’ll cremate it, put it in a container and into a wall monument in a cematary. In not too many years from now, no onw will know anything about the person who inhabitated that body. And that’s ok.

  2. Roxanne Walsh

    Have you spoken or registered with the U of A to ensure that you meet their criteria or have a back up plan if at the time of your death you do not meet their criteria? Not all schools will take all dead bodies.

  3. Ceska

    In Canada now the cremation rate is almost 50%, so half of the people who die will be cremated. Older cemeteries, with acres of green grass, shrubs
    and trees are preserving green space in cities. The trees contribute to purifying the air. I see these cemeteries as a good thing. In earlier times families used cemeteries more like a park. When they visited graves they would often have a pic nic and enjoy the space as a family. This is something to be revived today. As cities grow we should encourage the use of this green space. Green space that already exists and is protected as green space for the future.

  4. Roxanne Walsh

    I am curious about the uptake of chemicals into the trees and shrubs, and if it is significant enough that special care needs to be taken when they die, or get cut for firewood.

  5. Roxanne

    You ask a good question. I would say yes, care should be taken, at least until scientific research rules it out. Even then, one would need to look carefully at what was analyzed and what was not. Sometimes there is a lot of information that can be gleaned from what was omitted, and of course who bought (paid for) the research.

  6. Roxanne

    I love spending time in cemeteries. They are generally peaceful places with lots of trees, and occasionally a critter or two. Trees do contribute to purifying the air, in fact they create the oxygen we need to breathe. All trees, shrubs and plants should be encouraged to grow, in cemeteries and elsewhere. However, a word of caution, does your favourite cemetery use pesticides or herbicides? How does this impact the trees? Rivers? Lakes? etc.

  7. Roxanne

    There are lots of reasons why someone would choose to donate their body to science. Certainly, it is a low-cost alternative, and some donors are purely interested in leaving a legacy of learning.

    Back in the late 1980’s, I visited the Anatomy Museum at the U of A. Right then and there was when I decided donating my body to science was not for me.

    Regardless of your reasons for wanting to donate your body to any institution, you need a plan “B.” Especially if your reason is to have a free method of disposing of your body. Not all schools need all bodies, and not having a plan “B” may cause unnecessary hardship for others not only financially but in adding unexpected stress as well. Especially if you have no close friends or relatives where you live now. Your plan “B” in this case may need to involve the Public Trustee in your province.

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