5 Innovative (And Terrifying) Ways To Dispose Of Your Corpse
Mankind's oldest and most profound question boils down to "Well this dude is dead, what the hell do we do now?" Every culture has found different methods for laying the deceased to rest, and every one of them is weird (a subject that gets an entire chapter in my new book, Bizarre World). The way we do it today is no exception. And it also has to change. Cemetery space is in increasingly short supply, cremation creates an unnecessarily large carbon footprint, and most local ordinances prohibit splaying a carcass across the roof of a Hyundai for dismemberment by the local crows. Today there are lots of alternatives that probably make way more sense than spending eternity in a fancy box ... but which are also all utterly terrifying.
Melt Yourself Into Slurry
You know how the executives at Pepsi have admitted that Mountain Dew can dissolve a mouse down to a "jelly-like substance," should such an unfortunate rodent be left soaking in the beverage for long enough? If this sounds like an interesting scenario to try out on Grandma, then a process called "aquamation" might be the pathway to oblivion for you.
According to some forward thinkers, the future could find all sort of uses for this nutrient-rich grandma jelly. Aquamation (a much more marketable term than the more technical "alkaline hydrolysis") is essentially a more clinical version of the way Mexican cartels have been making victims disappear for years. As demonstrated in this cartoonish yet hideous video, after being plopped into a vat that's been heated to 200 degrees, a chemical solution of potassium hydroxide and water swishes around, like so:
Eventually, your bones are left cleaner than they'd be after a long weekend in a piranha tank:
The leftover juices can be flushed safely into the local water supply. Or recycled. How, exactly? Well, all one needs to do is adjust the pH levels with a little vinegar and/or citrus juice, and the resulting chum is "safe enough to pour on the rose bushes." Have we learned nothing from Rick Moranis' fatal hubris?
After everything is said and done, there's no residual DNA left, which should be good news for customers wanting to eliminate the complications of pesky things like "future exhumations" and "trace evidence" from their lives. The final product is like fine sand, which is much more aesthetically pleasing than the chunky, mottled remnants that normally result from old-school cremation.
You can even have this done to your deceased pets, if you want to use them as a test run before the Reaper comes for you. Simply send in your formerly frisky felines and canines (and plush children's toys, according to this promotional video). For the cats, at least, there's a certain symmetry (and further recycling opportunity!) in turning them into kitty litter to let the next rescue tabby know exactly who's boss.
Let Yourself Rot In A Field
Getting to solve crimes after death seems like an opportunity that doesn't exist outside of zombie procedural shows like iZombie and CorpseCop, only one of which we made up. But yes, you can help nail bad guys from beyond the grave, instead of spending the afterlife stinking up a wooden box. Granted, it won't involve many car chases or tripping a fleeing suspect by chucking your own severed arm at him; it's more just laying in a cage in an open field, letting all of the hungry insect larvae have a smorgasbord.
Since the first body farm in Tennessee came into being back in 1981, the concept of decorating fields with open-air cadavers has really caught on. In addition to new installations in North Carolina, Texas, Illinois, Colorado, and Florida, there's even a body farm in Australia now. Although to be fair, any wilderness area over there that you cordon off with humans inside is bound to fill with casualties in a matter of moments. So for those who'd prefer to beat the reaper to the punch, presumably all that needs to be done is sign a waiver, sit down, and wait for the spiders to start draining your succulent innards.
Donating your remains to a body farm doesn't only present you with the most natural method of disposal outside of being dumped in the woods by a serial killer. It also provides crime investigators with a way to research body decomposition and how to better determine times of death by studying the types of bugs that are busy nibbling on your desiccated organs. Not to mention how you'll be earning the eternal gratitude of people like Dr. Sheri Forbes (referred to lovingly as "Australia's Queen of the Dead"), an administrator at the Australian Facility for Taphonomic Experimental Research: "We're forever indebted to the donors and to their families. We understand that it's an unusual way to donate your body to science, perhaps even more so than medical schools, so we are truly grateful of the contribution they make to our science."
Freeze Your Body And Shatter It To Bits
Would you like to spend eternity as powder in an urn, but don't like the idea of getting the flame-broiled treatment? You could always go the opposite route: turning yourself into an ice cube and then getting broken into particles small enough to pack in little plastic baggies to pass out at the wake like Heisenberg meth.
If you'd like for your last moments of corporeal integrity to be the real-life version of a sci-fi movie special effects action sequence, the decomposition system called "promession" should be the very last item on your post-bucket list. Conceived by a Swedish biologist over the course of two decades, it's as close as you can get to being obliterated by a Bond villain without having to go through the grueling MI6 00 agent academy. Diabolically simple, the procedure involves just a few steps: Freeze, vibrate to a fine powder, then find a container quickly before the wind picks up and blows dear Aunt Florence into Lake Winnemucca to be gobbled up by the carp.
As fiendish as it sounds, promession is described (by the people selling it) as "an environmentally friendly and ethical improvement to both burial and cremation." They even claim that the procedure is a weapon against climate change, as it allows your lifeless shell to become "fully integrated with the soil, enabling you to bring your precious carbon back into the earth." If that's indeed what they're up to, that is. Because as much as freezing corpses to prevent global warming makes a certain amount of morbid sense, it also sounds like we may be dealing with a shady organization that's attempting to achieve global domination by assembling an army of undead ice golems. We may be dangerously close to seeing a bloodthirsty Walt Disney and Mickey Mantle awake from their long slumber.
Compost Yourself In A Pile Of Other Corpses
"Letting your body rot and return to earth" sounds a lot like the way we're doing it now, but permanently occupying a tiny piece of land inside an absurdly expensive box is hardly the most efficient way to go about it. Some say that if we're going to turn humans into compost, we should do it properly. No, the plan isn't to feed you headfirst into the wood chipper along with leftover banana peels and coffee grounds. It's to stuff you into this contraption:
This concept, called the Urban Death Project, is not quite functional yet. The inaugural installation is hoped to be operational in Seattle (if you guessed Portland, we'll award you partial credit) by 2023 as a "part funeral home, part place of memorial and part public park." Another way to put it is that it's a big gray dystopian tower full of rotting corpses.
As for the logistics, funerals will consist of mourners lugging the dearly departed to the top of the metallic contraption, lowering it onto a bed of wood chips, covering it with more wood chips, and ... that's it. There are still some questions as to whether the proposed system will work, however. If they don't get the decomposition process precisely right, family visitations will be less a reflective occasion to pay their respects and probably more like encountering a dead raccoon in the heating ducts. It's also unknown at this stage if enemies of the deceased will be allowed to climb the tower and add their own "fertilizer" for a fee.
Grow A Tree Out Of Your Curled-Up Carcass
Unless you count Hunter-S.-Thompson-ing yourself into the stratosphere or paying morticians to wire your cadaver to a bitchin' motorcycle, there really aren't that many truly stylish options available for your journey into the hereafter. However, there is one way to reunite your fleshy remainder with the dirt in a spare yet fashionable manner, reminiscent of something one might pick up at a Swedish retailer notorious for selling impossible-to-figure-out-how-to-put-together furniture. It's a modern, egg-shaped pod just big enough to hold your dead ass:
Capsula Mundi is the name of the project, cooked up by a couple of Italian designers. It's described as "a cultural and broad-based project, which envisions a different approach to the way we think about death. It's an egg-shaped pod, an ancient and perfect form, made of biodegradable material, where our departed loved ones are placed for burial." Naturally, the corpse is crammed inside there like a zombie fetus, because that's clearly what nature intended. It's pretty much what you'd see in the orientation video from the machines running the Matrix's human harvesting fields.
The next stage, rather than being loaded onto a catapult and sent into a skyward arc toward Valhalla, is to be lowered into the ground with a tree on top of you. Then all that's left to do is let nature take over and wait for the tree to grow tall enough for your family can gather around, dogs to pee on ... whatever you're into.
Furthermore, the ultimate goal is to transform the somber depressingness of gray-stoned graveyards into memorial parks filled with lush vegetation. It's just that under every tree will be a skeleton, eternally trapped in the embrace of a tangle of roots. Centuries from now, when frightened children ask how the haunted forest came to be, the elders will have a strange and confusing story to tell.
For more, check out 4 Awkward True Stories About Dealing With Death - Show And Tell:
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