What To Do With a Dead Body

Everything dies (baby, that’s a fact).

It’s inevitable. We humans have whole philosophies and religions dedicated to the contemplation of what happens to our souls once our bodies give up the ghost. But unless you’re a mortician, how much thought do you give to what can happen to your actual flesh-and-blood body after you die?

Me, I like the idea of a badass Viking funeral. Lay my body in a hand-carved boat laden with my life’s bounty, launch it at sunset, then set that B on fire with a rain of flaming arrows. [Side Note: From nearly ill-fated personal experience I have learned getting a flaming arrow to stay lit when released is very difficult. Even with gasoline soaked rags…]

Although I love walking through old cemeteries, I’m not so into the idea of my body moving into one. A Tibetan sky burial sounds pretty good, though logistically tough. Maybe a Jazz Funeral parade rolling right into a raucous Irish wake. Then just find a tree, name it Katie, and call it good.

Other people might picture their remains being buried underground, launched into space, strung in trees, sunk in seas, probed by queasy medical students, or displayed in museums. These days, dead bodies have a lot of options, with more on the way.  No wonder the U.S. funeral services business is a $21 billion industry. Once the ceremonies are over, there are some choices to make.

Check out my latest SciShow script to hear about new and greener alternatives to traditional burial. And Happy Halloween!


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