Did you ever have a random thought that actually changes your own (supposedly) deeply held belief in something? I just did.
I was re-watching Stephen Fry on Craig Ferguson's Late Late Show and he was talking about the "Body Farm" which got me thinking, as I do, about death. Or, more specifically, our traditions regarding burials.
I had a client who was, among other things (including a pillow manufacturer), an undertaker. He recommended me to other undertakers. At one stage I had 5 Funeral Director businesses as clients, one of which was for pets, another was specifically for the LGBT community (before they requisitioned a few more letters). Through these connections I learned a great deal more about it all than I was completely comfortable with.
Don't worry. I won't share all the gory details here, except for a couple of things…
Cremation is fucking revolting. One word: grease. It's also an incredible waste. All that potentially nutritious material being turned to useless carbon. Not to mention the energy consumption!
Regulations (especially in SA) stipulate that a body must be buried at 2m (ish… I'm fuzzy on details… it was a while ago… I'm drunk… reasons) - and at that depth there is no 'anaerobic activity'. There's no air and therefore no bugs, worms or maggots to break you down, even if they could get at you, which they couldn't because you're mummifying in a sealed container.
One of the businesses was the "Natural Earth Burial Something". He also formed an official "society" of which I became the founding member. We had an actual meeting in a function room above a pub. There were name tags. Someone took minutes. A reporter from The Messenger attended.
The concept was that, basically, people would be buried in shallow graves wrapped in shrouds. A tree would be planted in place of a headstone, and you would fertilise it. I loved this idea. This sounded as if it was exactly as it should be. A cemetery that becomes a forest.
For my contributions I was promised a free burial at such time as I needed it. Nice.
The South Australian government steadfastly denied him any licenses to do so. The law was the law and it was illegal to bury people that way. No. Go away.
So he moved interstate, where it IS allowed, and I never heard from him again. There goes my free burial.
But tonight I just realised something! Who cares? We bury everyone on top of one another in little square areas called cemeteries anyway. Who cares how lush a cemetery is? It's not like we're going to fertilise crops, is it? Just a couple of blocks, east of the city.
Just cremate me and be done with it (not yet, of course).