Monday, December 20, 2010

The ultimate in recycling...

Ever wonder what happens to artificial body parts when someone is cremated?

Yeah. Me too.

Actually, I wonder about breast implants-- that stuff burning can't be good for anyone, right? Are after-market knockers poking holes in the ozone layer?

From a site which boasts funky crematorium facts:

"Another medical device that causes crematoria problems are silicone breast implants. The cremains stick to the residual silicone, which means you’ll wind up with clumps of Aunt Erma instead of gritty ash."

Um. Ew.

Then there's the not insignificant matter of the artificial joints-- that titanium ain't cheap, baby. According to one site, post-cremation, dental gold and silver is not recoverable(though they refer to the precious metals as "jewelry" which seems more perverse to me than to simply call it what it is). My speculation would be that the folks who prepped the body already picked that out, but they don't actually expand on that. They seem to want us to think it's incinerated along with Aunt Erma. Again, all those heavy metals being converted to gas form prolly ain't doing us a world of good.

Apparently the titanium and other artifical parts are re-sold by crematoria to manufacturers for use in-- wait for it-- more artifical joints. There seems to be a sort of toothsome symmetry to that-- sort of a book-end type arrangement.

Yeah, I know it's icky to consider this, but it's stuff we wonder about and I think the wondering is way more spooky than putting on one's big-girl panties and facing the truth.

Speaking of, I've said so before here, but I've told my folks that whatever means of dispensation should suit them will be fine should I shuffle off this mortal coil leaving them to plan my sendoff. I've heard some say they are freaked out by the thought of their body having been destroyed and not being all together when it is swept up to Heaven sometime down the road. Well, sweetie-- I think the Lord of All Creation who made the universe and everything can re-congregate the earthly bits of you, should He so desire, so I think that's a lame argument against cremation. The thought of cremation squicks my Mom out, so I only ask that they don't choose some meringue, hideous casket, but merely a simple Trappist Casket from those lovely monks at the monastery in Peosta Iowa will suit me fine, if I get the standard un-fired burial.

I actually strongly urge everyone to watch Penn & Teller's episode of Bullshit! which focused on the funeral industry. (I think you can actually see bits of this episode on YouTube) I think we often are taken advantage of due to the sheer unpleasantness of the topic, when, in fact, death is as natural as birth around here. If you live long enough, it'll happen to you.


Joe Allen said...

I've never understood the squeamishness over cremation. If anything, that seems so much cleaner than the "normal" process of mortification and the thought of what goes on in a hermetically sealed coffin is just too icky for words. And, to me, the waste of good real estate just seem silly.

Having said though, I had an aunt that spent the sum total of what she had to leave as a bequest on a mausoleum because she was afraid of snakes.

To each their own, I guess.

Spikessib said...

My mother was on hospice in our home beginning in January. We made arrangements early and without the stress of having already lost her, and still the cost was incredible to me. There was no saving in planning ahead. They did offer a slight discount (very slight) for paying in advance, but due to her condition and the way they handle the money, had she died before their accounting was settled we would have had to write them another check and wait for a refund, which we chose not to do.
That said, I'm with you on cremation. god knows which bits of me are important and the idea of decomposing squicks me out big time.


Ambulance Driver said...

I'm going to be cremated, and have my ashes loaded into a special case of shotgun shells, maybe as a shot buffer.

Each of my friends will get a box. One for LawDog, one for Matt, and so on.

That way, I can hunt with my friends after I'm gone. ;)

Joe Allen said...

"I'm going to be cremated, and have my ashes loaded into a special case of shotgun shells, "

If you do that, and they are loaded into a defective shotgun that discharges without the trigger being pressed...

Would that be an AD AD?

Anonymous said...

You know who should get into the casket industry? IKEA. I'd be fine with particle board, although I hope the assembly instructions are better than usual.

Really, though, I'd be good with a biodegradable plastic bag, with a big twist tie.


Holly said...

My Daddy and Step-Mother planned their entire funeral, down to clothes for the casket and hymns to be sung, about 10 years before Daddy died. When Mom goes all we [the 4 kids] will have to do is buy flowers and pay for the grave opening/closing. They did this so we wouldn't have to make decisions at a stressful time.

Sometime in the next couple of years I'll be prepaying for my memorial service. I'll be cremated and will leave instructions for the kids on where I want to be scattered. They're gonna have to take a road trip since I've got several spots in mind for dispersal.
What I don't want is for them to keep my ashes. When my Mother [not step-Mother] dies I have to figure out where to scatter my grandmother's ashes. Mother has kept them in a lovely, sealed ginger jar since she died in 1989. When I was moving Mother from Houston she carried the jar in her lap and gave Nana a running commentary of the sites we were passing. Hilarious and a bit creepy.

Maven said...

I think the finest, most fitting, and most loving gift anyone can give their loved ones is to pre-pay their final "arrangements." My parents did nothing, hell, mom didn't even know where dad's life insurance policy papers were. In the end, the day he passed, but before he was brought down to the morgue, I was sitting on the bed next to him in the hospital, making sure my mother dotted all the "I"s and crossing all the "T"s, with me reading the draft of his obituary to her, the control freak that she is, as he lay there, "cooling off" to room temp.