Archive for the ‘Cremation’ Category
Did you know that cremated “ashes” aren’t really ashes? What comes out of the cremation chamber is actually bones. Super high heat — 1800 degrees+ after a few hours creates a few pounds of bones that are then crushed to create a fine sand or “ash”. That was interesting for me to learn, and I thought you might appreciate knowing that. As far as I know, it is legal to spread remains on your private land with the owner’s permission. I am currently checking on spreading remains in Lake Michigan, and will see what kind of Chicago laws we have in place. California seems to be the most sophisticated with their laws and permit process, and it seems that many other States look the other way. I am checking on Illinois… stand by.
How Do I Ship Cremated Remains?
Shipping cremated remains does carry some risk. The United States Postal Service (USPS) is the only shipping option I know of for Americans. Unfortunately, USPS has lost my packages (NOT human remains, but just basic things like jewelry, books, etc.) shipped to me in the past, and I have always been cautious about sending anything irreplacable in the mail. A few weeks ago (July 19, 2010), a woman’s cremated remains were lost between Arizona and Chicago (see embedded video below)! My guess is, other shipping companies do not want to be sued if remains are lost. It is quite sad and unfortunate to lose something so special. I personally think hand delivery is your best option. If you do decide to ship remains, USPS has a PDF you can download from their site and the following information explains how to do it.
Here is the information you need copied directly from a PDF from USPS.com:
452.2 . Cremated Remains . Human ashes are permitted to be mailed provided they are packaged as required in 453b (see below). The identity of the contents should be marked on the address side. Mailpieces sent to domestic addresses may be sent via USPS Express Mail or Registered Mail service. Mailpieces sent to an international address must be sent via Registered Mail service, and the country listing in the IMM must show that cremated remains are permitted and Registered Mail service must be available for that country.
453b. Powders. Dry materials that could cause damage, discomfort, destruction, or soiling upon escape (leakage) must be packed in siftproof containers or other containers that are sealed in durable siftproof outer containers.
Keep me posted on this story. I will update the note/video.
Fascinating. So, here’s the thing, if you pre-purchase a plot from a cemetery and you decide that you do not want to use it… you will have to sell it yourself to get your money back. (You can’t really return it.) If you need a spot for a loved one, consider buying one from a private buyer. Of course, you need to be sure it is a legitimate transaction. (Do your homework!) You might save some cash. More people are choosing cremation and getting away from burial plots… so I think there is a bit of a surplus out there.
http://cemeteryplotsforsale.net/illinois.html There are a couple of spots in the Chicago suburbs for sale.
I really like the idea of visiting someone who has passed in an outdoor space, and happen to love the history in cemeteries. I am a fan through and through… but I am not a fan of fertilized grass and wish that bodies could just be buried without excess materials encasing them.
From www.floridatoday.com: “According to the Chicago-based Cremation Association of North America, cremation was the choice in approximately 35 percent of deaths in the United States in 2007, up from 29.5 percent in 2003.”
I think answering your own question is a great gift to your loved ones. Do you want to be cremated? Do you want to be buried? Do you want to donate your body to science? What are your thoughts? Do you even have an opinion? I think the ones left behind are often left with difficult decisions and it can be hard to answer those questions during the immediate time of grief. My mother has always been very clear — “I want to be cremated and I want my ashes to go here!” There is no question in our minds. We know that the funeral better be pretty darn organized, or we will hear about it later. Now, the question is, how organized do you want to be for your loved ones? There are so many ways to handle a funeral, and I think it is something we should all talk about before we get sick. (If possible!) The beauty of talking about it when you are well is that it becomes a lighter topic. For example, when a person is fighting something like cancer, it can be hard to talk about death. All of the person’s energy is often focused on fighting the illness and appreciating life. It would be nice to have all of those things figured out before someone gets sick.
As I learn more about death and dying, I am becoming more comfortable talking about it with my own family. I now know I want my remains to be processed in the greenest way possible. Currently, the greenest way is to put my body in a very simple shroud in a green burial plot in a green cemetery somewhere in America. If there is anything of use — my organs, tissues, etc., then I would like those to be donated to people who could use them. I do not want to be cremated unless my family would find that to be easier for them to deal with. I do not want to be embalmed. And, for a life celebration, I want a potluck in the middle of a park in the town I am living in and I want everyone who wants to attend to come in the brightest color they can find in their house…no black. I also want immediate family members and close friends to be able to go in my house and touch things that I have touched, and smell things that remind them of me. When loved ones have passed, I truly cherish the things that they have touched and I try and keep their smell on the items as long as possible. I still have scarves that belonged to my great aunts, and I can still smell their floral perfumes and powders when I hold them to my nose and inhale deeply. I plan to go into more specific details for my loved ones, and I encourage you to do the same.
Think about how you want to be buried. Do some research on the process and provide a written plan for your family. Do it for them, and for you.
There are multiple articles and blog posts about Alkaline hydrolysis or resomation available on the web, but we figured we would direct you right to the source of the company that has commercialized the process for human remains developed in the United States in the 1990s – Resomation, Ltd. based out of Glasgow, Scotland. www.resomation.com.
Here is the answer taken directly from their site:
“Resomation is an environmentally beneficial alternative to cremation and is both dignified and respectful. It has been developed in response to increasing environmental awareness and concern. The key aspects of the overall process are patent pending.
A funeral involving resomation is exactly the same as one involving cremation until the point at which the coffin is committed from view. The coffin is placed in a special chamber and, instead of fire, resomation uses a water and alkali based method which uses the same chemistry as in natural decomposition but is much quicker.”
Kudos to the Anderson-McQueen (http://www.andersonmcqueen.com/) funeral home in St. Petersburg, Florida. They will have the first commercial resomation machine installed in a funeral home in the United States this year. The process has been used in the Mayo Clinic for a few years and is only legal in a couple of states. There is opposition to the process by many, but I, for one, am excited about the idea of a greener version of cremation.
If you hear of progress being made in Illinois for legalization — keep Wake the Memory posted! What are your thoughts about alkaline hydrolysis? To learn more, try Googling “Alkaline Hydrolysis”. (There is a LOT of information on the process out there.)
Here is a company in Indiana that has developed their own version calling it: BioLiquidator. It sort of sounds like Bio Going Out of Business — but we like this idea a lot. They are marketing their system to cattle ranchers and the like for removal of animal carcasses.
THIS IS A GRAPHIC VIDEO . WARNING . (Video shows actual processing of animal carcasses.) This is the real deal video from BioLiquidator demonstrating a version of alkaline hydrolysis. I can’t stand the rather “upbeat” music on the video, but I do think it does a good job illustrating the process:
WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT ON THIS VIDEO.