The bodies of the dead have been a matter of great concern especially to the loved ones of the deceased. Various propositions have always been made on how they wanted the body of their own to be handled. For instance, cremating the dead was objected especially in the conservative London, Grainger, H. J. (2000). However with time, legislations changed and the practice was allowed. This paper tries to look keenly into the views people have on cremation, the benefits of cremating the dead and how it is ecologically relevant to do so. The paper will pay attention to the cultural aspects of cremation and how we can benefit from the remains of the dead. The big question here is, do dead bodies matter?
The American people have had traditional burial and respect for the dead practices so close to them for a long time. However with the increase in the need to have ecologically fit burials, there has been a growing disconnection between the dead and the living. They are slowly encouraging the take up of ecologically friendly burials and management of the dead bodies. Though catapulting these practices into the minds of the people has not found a common footing from where the influence can be spread. This is because the practices are paved by many religious and cultural customs (Kelly S, 2012). Further, the efforts have not been fruitful given the fact that there is the secularization of death and by a pervasive disattachment from nature where the dead are deemed not to be doing okay.
Generally, the dead were’ feared’ according to Kelly, S. (2012). The American people wanted to give the dead what they called a decent burial. But Kelly advises that we should reduce this gap and consider the dead part of the environment. The need for green burial should be encouraged. In Britain for instance, as Jupp (1993) points out, the Britons did not accept cremation because of the deep connections they had to their conservative culture. Later, when things loosened up, they cited lack of better technologies to carry out the practice. This was all in the belief that cremation is a preserve of dead gods of the Norsemen (Hillary J, 2000).
The current burial system of ‘six feet under has had a number of effects on the environment including pollution. Furthermore, there is the need to conserve land. With the cemeteries getting full each day, an alternative has to be found which is ecologically safe and acceptable by the people. According to The Journal of American Culture Volume 35, 2012, the dead are subjected to a number of unacceptable acts which irk the relation of the dead. It has been reported in many cases that there are unscrupulous traders who sell the body parts of the dead. These revelations do not really auger well to the family members. It has contributed to family resolving to other alternative burial methods.
Cremation has come in hand to many of them and has gone a long way in solving the numerous legal suits that were previously in place.In finding a way of dealing with the dead bodies, a number of methods have been discovered, many of them having a sound rooting in chemistry. This is good in the sense that it takes care of the environmental concerns having been safe in terms of the end products (Chemistry and Industry, 2007). The methods offer a number of ways of dealing with the remains and since they do not pollute, they have formed a big reason to embrace alternative burial methods.
According to Reade, L. (2012), Dying arts: Chemical and Industry, there is a great need to shift from the traditional ways of burying the dead that had a number of effects on the environment. The scientists have discovered new ways to do this. They can comfortably use the remains to make some more worthwhile things like diamonds. US firm Life Gem, for example, has mastered a way of converting cremated remains into a gem-quality diamond.
Dissolution of the bodies has also been cited as one of the safest methods since it doesn’t release mercury into the air. Thiel embalming, another method, has also replaced reliance on chemical by introducing more friendly food preservation compounds (Chemistry and Industry, 2007). Formalin for example has been replaced by a cocktail of chemical that are more friendlier to the human body and in the process suitable for bodies that have been preserved for medical research exercises.
According to Reade, we can honor the dead without affecting the environment by embracing the many choices that have been discovered by the chemists.
The main reason why we should consider is the cost that comes with the traditional methods. Cremation is cheaper and environmentally safer. The cost of expansive caskets will be avoided as well as the making of graves and grave sites. Land will also be conserved since not very person will require a place to be buried. This will ensure that the land has been saved from spoiling customary practices.
Since precious ornaments like diamond rings can be made from dead material, it is better for us to embrace such practices and earn from the otherwise less beneficial content. On the other hand, we can choose to use it for scientific research and enrich the knowledge base.
It is apparent that embracing the new methods of burial will be a solution to many issues that are currently facing us which may even worsen in the near future. Embracing the new methods will ensure that the burial services do not cost so much as well as do not have a devastating effect on the environment. The acquiring of carbon from the dead content to make far much more valuable items like ornament will make the dead content matter and profitable. In the wake of all these, there should be a change in our practices. We should embrace the new methods and be ready to accept the realities facing us despite our deep connections to our cultures and other customary practices regarding the dead and their burial.
Jupp P. (1993) From dust to ashes: cremation and the British way of death, University of New England, London
Grainger, H. J. (2000). Golders green crematorium and the architectural expression of
cremation. Morality, 5(1), 53-73. doi: 10.1080/13576270050002570.
Kelly, S. (2012). Dead bodies that matter: Toward a new ecology of human death in American
culture. The Journal of American Culture, 35(1), 37-51. doi: 10.1080/13576270050002570
Reade, L. (2012). Dying arts. Chemical and Industry, 76(4), 36-39. doi:10.1002/cind.7604_14.x.
Mortality, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2000 Golders Green Crematorium and the architectural
expression of cremation by Hilary J. Grainger
Dead Bodies that Matter: Toward a New Ecology of Human Death in American Culture
The Journal of American Culture, Volume 35, Number 1, March 2012 by Suzanne Kelly