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[cancer] What to do with my body? - Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2013-10-18 05:47
Subject: [cancer] What to do with my body?
Security: Public
Tags:cancer, death, health, personal
Unfortunately, I do not qualify as a medical school cadaver. I am too large and heavy. This apparently has to do with access to the internal organs as medical students dissect. Also, as liver failure will quite possibly figure prominently in my forthcoming demise, that can cause problems for teaching cadavers due to tissue discoloration.

So, back to the drawing board.

At a purely internal level, I'm completely unconcerned with the disposition of my body. As an atheist, the concept of bodily resurrection falls somewhere between laughable wishful thinking and deep irrelevance. I can be memorialized just fine without physical remains being present. We are in fact currently discussing memorial options.

If there were a convenient body farm here in the Pacific Northwest, I'd totally be down for that. But there doesn't seem to be any such thing in the western United States.

Likewise, plastination is kind of cool. I may yet look into that.

Unfortunately, both the above options would leave my surviving loved ones in some distress, I am fairly certain.

Several people have suggested memorial diamonds. These are synthetic diamonds made from the cremation ash. As it happens, I think that's intensely cool. And think how many diamonds you could make out of an entire human body! But prices start in the low $2,000s from small, low color grade diamonds, and quickly work their way up. I certainly cannot afford to have myself baked into fifty or a hundred diamonds.

On the other hand, we do have the makings of the world's weirdest Kickstarter...

The reality will probably be cremation and the disposition of ashes. I might look into a serious steampunk reliquary as well. Anybody know any sculptors or fabricators in the steampunk art world who might be interested in such a thing?

I dunno. Still noodling. The diamond option really appeals to me, but I don't think there's much of a market for 1/4 caret pieces of me at $3,000 a pop.

What would you do with my body?

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scarlettina: Spirits
User: scarlettina
Date: 2013-10-18 13:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Spirits
What would I do with your body? I can't answer this one in a facetious way: if you don't believe in burial (even natural burial, which is legal and available in Oregon), then I suggest cremation and spreading of ashes at a place meaningful to you and the family. I say the second part of this quite deliberately. A big part of grieving is healing. If you yourself have no further use for your body, ask yourself very deliberately--ask your family--if having your ashes in a reliquary around the house will help them heal and move on. Once you're gone, their healing will be the most important thing.

My model for this is a combination of my heritage and the example of my cat, Merlin. You know I was raised Jewish, and you've probably heard me--and other Jewish friends--talk about Jewish custom being to bury the body within 24 hours so that the focus, in the wake of a death, can be on caring for the living. There is validity and kindness in this. I've never understood the gentile habit of keeping a body around for a week or more, or the gruesome custom of carting a president's body around the country before interment. I don't understand the point of it. The body is a shell; its most important characteristic, animation by a beloved consciousness, is ended; its presence, in any form, is a reminder of loss.

This lesson has been brought home to me by my having kept Merlin's ashes. I'd never kept a pet's ashes before. At the time of his death, I couldn't bear the thought of his anonymous disposal, mainly because I felt like I could have done more for him there toward the end and didn't--certainly a feeling that many of those whose parents died of illness are familiar with. So there the ashes sit, in a little urn on my windowsill, a place he liked. And now, years later, I still feel enormous responsibility for this urn of ashes: where do I put it that it will be properly cared for? How can I distribute the ashes somewhere that he never visited? It's a burden, a little one but a burden nevertheless. Years after his death, I continue to feel mildly anxious about them. While not everyone is me, I can't help but wonder how much more difficult would it be to have a child's, a father's ashes in the house this way--and for the rest of one's life.

If you don't believe in burial--and I go back and forth about it for myself--then I would advocate for cremation and disposal somewhere meaningful.

Edited at 2013-10-18 01:48 pm (UTC)
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2013-10-18 13:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've thought about this too. If no one around me had any investment in what happened, I'd go for cremation.

But you? You have a lot of family & loved ones. If you truly don't care -- and it doesn't place a burden on them or cause tension and arguments -- maybe you could let them decide. It's possible someone may want to visit your plot at a cemetery, knowing your remains are there.

Or maybe your family would like those diamonds. That option appeals to me too. Could you perhaps have a few diamonds made for those who want them, and then cremate the rest? Or is it an all-or-nothing thing?

Then, of course, there's always being shot into space. There's an appeal to that too.
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Debbie N.
User: wild_irises
Date: 2013-10-18 14:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm an anonymous disposal girl myself, but that's just me.

This is a blog I wrote a couple of years ago (actually, it's the second half, with a link to the first half). The organization linked in the blog may not consider you too fat and they will not consider you too old. The person we did the research for was roughly your size healthy (a good deal smaller when he died) and they took his body.

I like the tree idea.
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dionysus1999
User: dionysus1999
Date: 2013-10-18 14:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Include your ashes in a satellite so we can look up to remember you.

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When life gives you lemmings...
User: danjite
Date: 2013-10-18 14:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Damn scarlinetta said that so elegantly.

But, yes, less elegantly and for an array of reasons: Once you are done with your mortal remains, don't burden anyone else with them and for this, frankly, don't give anyone else a vote. If they want your remains around, forever, they really might not be thinking.... sanely.


Edited at 2013-10-18 02:20 pm (UTC)
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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2013-10-18 14:26 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm considering turning myself into a tree...

http://bigthink.com/design-for-good/this-awesome-urn-will-turn-you-into-a-tree-after-you-die
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Keikaimalu
User: keikaimalu
Date: 2013-10-18 21:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I forgot about the tree option. I vote for this. :)
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threeoutside
User: threeoutside
Date: 2013-10-18 14:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
By all means talk this over with your family and loved ones. I just this summer took my husband's ashes to a National Park site in a neighboring state, as per his wishes, after years of dithering because such disposal was illegal until pretty recently (they now have a NPS permit process, thank goodness). So if you decide on cremation, I'd also recommend making the memorial disposal site somewhere not only meaningful but also as accessible and logistically/legally as easy as possible. I'm going to go for cremation, my self, and tell my son to scatter the ashes anywhere he likes. I won't care; I'll be dead.
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The Ferrett
User: theferrett
Date: 2013-10-18 16:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I would convene a panel of judges you trust. Get a fundraiser to have your body made into diamonds. Then, every year afterwards for as long as there are bits of you, someone is awarded the Jay Lake Award For Exceptional Fiction, which actually includes a piece of you to inspire them.
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2013-10-18 18:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
oooh, he could become part of the Campbell Tiara.. now, that would be very cool.
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Elizabeth Coleman
User: criada
Date: 2013-10-18 16:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm very fond of the tree idea, though as others have said, your family should have a big say, though if you do go for the diamond idea, I have three words for you: New Campbell Tiara.
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A wandering fellow on the long road
User: tsarina
Date: 2013-10-18 16:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm fond of the plant a tree with your ashes idea linked above. It's a nice thing for the planet.

The diamond business is so goddamn cool. If I thought there was anyone would want to inherit that, I would do it.
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karenjunker
User: karenjunker
Date: 2013-10-18 17:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Have you ever seen the movie The Little Buddha? A friend of mine (a Buddhist nun) was a script advisor for it and I told her about how when my son died, we divided up his ashes (two custodial parents). One of us took his ashes out on a boat off the coast of Bainbridge Island near his favorite park and scattered them in the water of Puget Sound. The other gave the remaining ashes to his grandfather, to be buried with him when he died. They ended up using a variation of those ideas in the movie.

The remains can be emotionally significant to the survivors -- they may not know now that they might sometime like to visit the place where your ashes were scattered.
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They Didn't Ask Me
User: dr_phil_physics
Date: 2013-10-18 17:15 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There are ceramics made from ashes that are also pretty, and cheaper than diamonds. The idea of a Kickstarter with multiple levels, up to The Diamond Level, amuses me.

Dr. Phil
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Deborah J. Ross
User: deborahjross
Date: 2013-10-18 17:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'm getting scattered at sea. I figure it's all one water anyway.

A few days ago, we scattered a small portion of Bonnie's ashes in the cedar grove in back of the property, a place in which she found immeasurable peace. It was very helpful to the grieving family. Other small portions will go to other places that were meaningful to her.

FWIW
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shelly_rae
User: shelly_rae
Date: 2013-10-18 18:35 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I've thought about this too. When Fritz Leiber died he asked to be cremated and his ashes spread in the city he loved. So we took Fritz walkabout. Some of him at the top of twin peaks, some in Golden Gate park. Some at the Blue Lamp--the bar next to his home that he frequented. The statue of Diana at Sutro Park and the rest here and there. Finally the beach. Most of Robert Heinlein is in the Pacific Ocean embracing the world.

A friend and I took beloved pet remains to the beach where we waded out as far as possible and said goodbye. </p>

For me. Ashes in the ocean.

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Ding-dong.
Hark! now I hear them—Ding-dong, bell.

Anon

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anghara
User: anghara
Date: 2013-10-18 21:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I just did that. WIth my father's ashes. A friend took me and my mom out to Puget Sound and we poured his ashes out into the blue and then tossed flowers in to mark the passage. Most fo them dispersed, floating away, but two red roses crossed and locked and lay there on the water for the longest time. My friend said that might have been a final farewell from my dad to my mother after fifty two years of marriage.

I thought I would cry. I did not. I looked out into the sea and the sky and I knew that my father would be there for me every time I saw those things now. This wasn't a goodbye-forever-weep-weep-weep, it was more of a goodbye-for-now, it was an acknowledgment that I knew that he was physically gone but that I did not see the need to let him pass from the world completely. I carry him within me, and I always will.

In the same way, whatever the eventual end is for you, I suspect that those who loved you in this life will find a similar link to the memory of you. Somehow. In some way that is personal to them.
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martianmooncrab
User: martianmooncrab
Date: 2013-10-18 18:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I am a toast and toss kinda crab, but my siblings want me to be up at the VA Cemetery. They have beautiful columbariums up there, and it would be near our Dad.
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horace_hamster
User: horace_hamster
Date: 2013-10-18 19:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I read about the memorial diamond thing a few years ago and I too found it fascinating.

It's your body and your decision, but I reckon it'd be nice to ask your loved ones what (if anything) they'd want to have, whether that be a grave/memorial site or a Lake-diamond or a vaseful of ashes on the mantel (or all three!).

Given your success with fundraisers and kickstarters, whatever you choose should be feasible!
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