Ramblings on death

It’s been hard to get back to this wibbling stream of unconsciousness. I think it’s been since attending a family funeral… the funeral service went as well as these things can do; the service was a Catholic Mass which was fine and apart from the obvious issues of being on ‘the wrong team’! But after the lengthy and emotionally charged Mass we drove the five miles from the church to the crematorium.

Now, I’m no fan of crematoria or cremation. It’s a funny thing to know that a self-identified Druid, William Price, established the right to cremation at the end of the 1800’s. It feels wrong to me, to burn something that is so well designed to melt back into the mother Earth. Not to mention the pollution and the fossil fuel used in the process. Hey ho, horses for courses… rant over. Well… that particular one!

We made good time to the crematorium, being only a minute behind the funeral cortège. However, by the time we’d made the short walk to the actual venue we were just in time to see the curtains close – folk behind us, some several dozen, never got to see the final journey at all. It felt as if the whole thing was an industrial process (which, of course, it is) with little or in fact no respect for the body thus transformed. There were several folk and boxes queued up behind us as we left, not to mention the folk before us who were still wandering around looking lost. It just felt disrespectful, and an anti-climax to an otherwise honourable and loving farewell ritual.

I promised myself I would have my own burial plan sorted out by Samhain this last October’s end. I failed. It happens. However, I am thrice committed to a natural woodland burial now and plan to have bought my plot by the New Year. The burial land I am looking at only ever allows one interment per day, allowing a full ritual burial and a respectful and peaceful farewell for all. I plan to be buried as soon as possible after decease, so that preservatives and chemicals are not used, thus avoiding poisoning my landscape. And then I will melt into the roots of a tree, to feed it and become in many ways a part of it, to home new life, to bring pleasure to others for many years to come… rather than a mercury and dioxin smog issuing from a blackened chimney.

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  1. The burial and cremation issue is something I still struggle with, and I know others do, too. One question that Tassja asked that stumped me; how toxic is the human body already, after our fourscore plus ten years? With antibiotics, heavy metals, petrochemicals, accumulated fats, acids and complex proteins and so on that we cannot reasonably hope to avoid within a modern society, is it more honourable to disperse the toxicity via the air, or to confine it to the one tree we choose as our memorial?

    I think this is a part of the conundrum I’m still facing a year or so after dropping out of active TDN-ness. How do I live a good and healthy life, given the endless questioning of ideals that living so honestly must bring? Eventually, I have to just stop and accept that I have to leave some footprint somewhere, and that I’m worth enough to do so.

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